This is a little activity we’ve been playing for a while. Each time we play, we add more to the learning experience! When we first started playing, it was for the purpose of building finger muscles and hand-eye coordination, but as now we practice skills like recognizing colors, patterning, sorting by color, counting, graphing, estimating, comparing numbers, and more. The great thing about this activity is that there are few materials needed and it is quick and easy set-up!
Multi-Colored Beads – I used Pony Beads that were pink, yellow, orange, blue, white, and green.
Wooden Kabob Sticks – You will want to make sure the wooden sticks will fit through the hole of the beads that you use.
Play Dough – You will need the same color play dough as the beads that you choose to use if you are working on colors.
Plate/Bowl – The plate/bowl will keep the beads from rolling around and onto the floor while your students are working on this activity.
(Fine Motor Skills)
Provide each student with beads in a plate or bowl. Stick the pointy side of a kabob sticks down into play dough while still in the container. Students pick beads from their plate or bowl and push them down onto the kabob stick, but not to far as to push them into the play dough.
(Color Recognition and Patterning)
Students place beads on the kabob stick to create a pattern based on the colors of the beads. Have students name the colors and identify the name of their pattern.
(Color Recognition and Sorting)
For this activity, you will need play dough colors that match your bead choice colors. Line the play dough containers up and place one kabob stick in each. Students should name the color of the bead they choose from their plate or bowl and place it on the stick found in the matching play dough color.
(Graphing, Estimating, Comparing Numbers)
This activity continues on from the Color Recognition and Sorting activity found above. Once all the beads have been placed on the appropriate sticks, have students look at the beads in bar-graph-like fashion. Have them determine which bead color they have the most of and the least of. Have students make a guess to determine how many beads they have in each color.
(Counting and Comparing Numbers)
Once all the beads have been sorted by color, you can have students count how many beads are stacked for each color. Caleb counted two different ways. First, he tried counting just by starting at the bottom and pointing to each bead as he counted up the stick. When that proved difficult, we laid the play dough container on its side so Caleb could slide the beads one at a time to the right like an abacus. We didn’t need to, but if there was a problem with beads sliding off the top, you could stick another container of play dough on the opposite end. Once we count all the sets of bead colors, we line them up from the smallest about to the largest about. We talk about which colors equaled and what that means when we’re organizing them in order.
If you love these activities and would like a resource to help encourage your students to transfer their understandings from what they’ve learned to paper check out my product: Learning Beads (Counting & Cardinality).
I hope you are inspired to bring some fun to your learning activities by reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my ideas with you. I know teaching can feel overwhelming at times, especially if you look at Pinterest for all your ideas, so I like to share ideas on how to make learning fun and purposeful without a lot of preparation.
God Bless Your Learning Journey!