The shaken bottle.
One of the preschool classes at school made some pirate treasure bottles as part of their pirate theme. A was intrigued by the treasure bottles, and wanted to make one at home. The bottle contained a variety of items, including sand, coloured water, glitter, beads, pebbles and other crafty materials.
The bottle and some of the treasures.
We used a clear plastic bottle to place our treasures in. Some of the treasures included plastic beads, coloured plastic, sparkly pom poms, cut up plastic straws, some broken loom bands, and lots and lots of glitter. The kids took turns adding treasures to the bottle, then I used a funnel to add silver and gold glitter. Once all our treasures were in the bottle, I filled it with water and tightened the lid. For bottle crafts like this, I normally add glue to the thread of the lid before screwing it back on too, so that the lid doesn’t accidentally come off and result in a huge mess.
Tipping the bottle upside down.
Watching the contents settle.
The kids squeezed the bottle, tipped it upside down, and shook it. They watched to see what sank and what floated. They watched as the contents settled and swirled. They were mesmerised.
The pile of wooden beads.
A found a little box of wooden beads and laces while we were tidying up her room. She asked to do some beading with them today.
Sorting the beads.
She tipped them out into a pile, and then sorted them by colour. There was also a few bigger beads with flowers on them, and A placed all of these ones together. Once she had them in separate piles, I gave her some little cardboard labels on which I had written the French words for the colours. She read each one, and then put the label next to the correct pile.
Sorted beads with French labels.
A placed the beads onto the laces, making patterns with the colours. Once she was happy with her string of beads, we hung them up in her room.
All of us are guilty of reading several books at once, leaving bookmarks in them, and forgetting to replace our bookmarks when we are done. L made a lovely bookmark holder out of pop-sticks a couple of weeks ago which is helping us to keep our bookmarks together, but we could do with some more to add to our collection. We were browsing through a Hama Beads Inspiration booklet when we saw some bookmarks made from the beads and some ribbon. We decided to have a go at making some bookmarks like this, though we made up our own bead designs.
L made this design on our penguin pegboard.
Each of our designs included a hole for the ribbon to be attached, and we tried not to make them too big or they would have been too heavy to stay in the book. Since each one wasn’t very big, we used a few of the smaller pegboards to create them.
I ironed the beads together and when they were cool we threaded some ribbon through the hole we’d left, and tied it off. We made the ribbon long enough that it would lie right along the height of our books and poke out the bottom.
These make for some very cute little bookmarks, and they were really easy to make. L particularly liked that she could make any shape or design she liked with any colours.
L’s new bookmark in one of our books.
When L was a preschooler her teacher noticed that while she was advanced in many areas, her fine motor skills could use some improvement. The school gave me some ideas for things to practice with her to improve her fine motor skills to help improve her writing. One of their suggestions was melty beads, which I found under the brand name Hama Beads in Lincraft. These are little plastic ring-like beads that are placed on a peg board in the desired design and then the top is ironed to melt the beads together (with baking paper between the beads and the iron face to prevent the beads melting onto the iron!). Then once the beads cool down, the design can be removed from the peg board and displayed or used in whatever way one wishes. These melty beads were a huge hit with L. We have done many designs over the past couple of years, and it never seems to lose its appeal. Now A is also very interested in making designs with the melty beads.
L adding beads to her star peg board.
Yesterday we used our melty beads to make some bag tags. A chose to make her bag tag in a heart shape, while L picked to use the star peg board. There are many different shaped peg boards available, and we only have a small selection. There are also lots of different coloured beads, which can be purchased as individual colours, or in various mixed packs. I have always bought sets of mixed beads for variety, and L and A mostly like to place the coloured beads randomly onto their chosen shape.
A placing beads on her peg board.
As predicted, A made her two hearts in a completely random way, though L made some patterns on her stars. I wielded the iron as it is too dangerous for the kids to touch.
I used a hot glue gun to attach a piece of ribbon to the back of one of the shapes to form a loop from which the tag could be hung. Continuing with the glue gun, I stuck the second shape back-to-back with the first shape, so that the ribbon was sandwiched between them. A’s two hearts went together nicely, and L asked to have her stars placed so that the points of one were between the points of the other. She thought this looked cool. The glue doesn’t take long to dry, so shortly after finishing the kids could attach their new tags to their bags.
We didn’t write their names on these tags, but they do help the kids to identify their own bag at school.
New bag tag hanging on A’s backpack.
L’s new bag tag hanging from the handle of her backpack.
Since L was able to thread beads onto some elastic, she has loved making her own necklaces and bracelets. Plastic beads are readily available and reasonably cheap, and are great for beading fun with the kids. It is cheaper, and longer lasting than store-bought play jewelery, and you get all the fun of creating something for yourself with the beads you want to use. L and A use the jewelery they have made in their dress-ups, and often wear them around the house and out and about just because they like them. They have also made them as gifts for their friends.
We usually use elastic for our beading projects, as it makes it easy for the kids to put on and take off themselves. Proper clear beading elastic is the best for this, but we have used basic hat elastic too. Unfortunately, after a while, the hat elastic tends to stretch and break, which requires tying the broken section together (more knots on the necklace) or re-threading the beads.
This time, however, I had some pre-made non-stretchy necklace lengths with clips to do them up, I think they came from Spotlight. Only the beads with the larger holes would fit over the end of each length, but the kids didn’t mind, they threaded lots of beads onto them, and then wore them about the house. I had to help them undo and fasten the clips though, so it didn’t lend itself to independent dress-up play as much as the elastic ones we’ve made.
A also spent some time running her hands through the beads, swishing them around with her fingers, and trying to get them to stick to her hands. She liked the sensation of rolling the beads in her palms, and spreading them on the floor.
Sensory play with the beads.
A big pile of plastic beads and we were set for an hour of fun! A separated all these beads into different coloured piles. She was particularly excited about the four shades of pink she found. She also liked the fluoro yellow and fluoro green beads, though she called them “blue-ray” colours 🙂
The sorted piles.
Once she had sorted all the colours out we compared the size of each pile. She showed me the biggest piles and the smallest piles. She also counted the number of beads in the smaller piles. We talked about some of the shapes she could see too. Some of the beads were round, some heart shaped, some looked like flowers, and she even found a red butterfly.
We used the beads to practice making patterns. I set out some simple two and three colour patterns and asked A to place the next bead. She liked doing that, and then she made up some of her own patterns with the beads.
Placing the next bead in the pattern.
We like to use plastic beads to make play jewelry, but the beads can be used in a number of different ways too. This week we used them for making L’s spelling words. It was a great fine motor skill activity too, as she had to pick up the individual beads in her fingers and place them carefully to make each letter.
L also did some sorting of the beads, using one colour for a whole letter. The ‘e’ in course is also done in a pattern of white and blue beads. Using these beads for sorting and pattern making will be a fun maths activity for A some time soon.