A perfect way to blend sensory appreciation of colour and shape with the fine motor experience of threading - while perhaps introducing a bit of interest in healthy eating!
This cute threading set features 30 wooden beads in the shape of various fruits - bananas, strawberries, blueberries, orange wedge, watermelon wedge, apples and pears.
The sizes of the beads vary according to shape but the banana is around 5cm in length and the strawberries are approximately 3cm. The beads come in a handy plastic jar for easy storage when the beads are not in use. The manufacturer recommends the activity for ages 3 +
The presence of 30 beads means that the set can facilitate some social collaboration, as two children could work together to create patterns, and for this reason two strings are included with the set.
The child builds hand-eye coordination, motor control and concentration through the process of carefully threading each bead onto the string. Threading exercises can also be a wonderful opportunity to prepare the child's hand for writing, as the 'pincer grip' (used to hold a pencil/pen) can be practiced when holding the thread and the beads.
Although the beads arrive in a plastic jar, from a Montessori perspective I would recommend presenting the beads on the shelf in a different container so that you can limit the number of beads according to the number of children or the intended purpose of the exercise. For instance, if this is being introduced at home to a single child then they may not need 30 beads all at once, so a separate tray, basket or bowl allows the adult to preselect a more manageable quantity. Alternatively, the adult may choose to present just two or three types of beads at a time to focus on introducing the names of those 'fruits'.
Threading is an engaging exercise that can be staggered for a progression of difficulty that grows with the child. Younger children may just thread at 'random', concentrating on the act of actually aligning the thread with the hole in the bead. Older children can be encouraged to engage in more deliberate sequencing and pattern-making. Children can either invent their own patterns, or can copy 'sequencing cards' made by an adult.
The variety of colours and shapes in the bead set also means value for money as they can double up as sorting objects.
Sorting games can be presented with the thread included if you are trying to subtly scaffold a child from random threading to more deliberate pattern-making. Alternatively, the thread can be removed and the materials presented simply for the exercise of sorting in order to 'isolate the purpose'. A beginner level sorting activity would involve sorting by colour, while a more advanced process could consist of sorting the varying shapes. Both of these experiences offer an opportunity for an adult to introduce the terminology used to describe the characteristics (the names of the colours or fruits) and for the child to practice these terms to reinforce their knowledge. If a child is highly enthusiastic about challenging activities then an expert level sorting game could even be presented that involves the child wearing the blindfold and sorting the different fruits by touch alone!