A perfect way to blend sensory appreciation of colour and shape with the fine motor experience of threading. This classic threading set features 90 beads in a variety of colours (blue, red, yellow, orange, green) and shapes (including cubes, cylinders, ellipsoids, and discs). The sizes of the beads vary according to shape but they are an average of around 3cm in size. 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 so many beads means that the set can easily facilitate some social collaboration, as multiple children work together to create patterns, and for this reason several 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 90 beads all at once, so a separate tray, basket or bowl allows the adult to preselect a more manageable quantity. Alternatively, if the adult is introducing colours to the child (either at home or in a classroom) then the beads could be presented corresponding to the colours currently being introduced. For instance, if the child is learning primary colours (red, blue, yellow) then just these beads could be presented to reinforce their recognition.
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 shapes) 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 shapes by touch alone!