Wooden Lacing Apple
A bright and cute threading exercise for young children featuring a green caterpillar creeping through a shiny red apple!
The apple measures approximately 8.5cm x 10cm. The caterpillar and the apple are both wooden.
I have used this activity in my Montessori classroom for many years. Whenever it is presented on the shelf it is well-received by the children and is in almost constant use. Each child tends tod spend a great deal of time focusing intently on the task and engaging in lots of repetition (please see below to learn more about undoing the threading to allow for repetition).
This is a great exercise for Pre-schoolers. The child builds hand-eye coordination, motor control and concentration through the process of pushing the caterpillar through the holes, pulling the thread through and finding the next entry point!
The wooden caterpillar's cylindrical shape resembles the dimensions of a pencil (or other writing implements) making this in ideal but subtle 'pre-writing' exercise. The child needs to turn and rotate the apple to find the next hole and this ensures that the activity is 'bi-lateral', involving both hands for two different elements of the same overall task.
The task of 'unthreading' the caterpillar provides a greater degree of challenge. The adult can demonstrate to the child how to push it back through the last hole it entered and then pull gently on the string (and so on).
Younger children may need assistance with this process, particularly during their initial attempts. In a Montessori multi-age classroom setting the younger child can be encouraged to seek the assistance of an older peer (as Dr Montessori said - "There they work side by side; he who prepares himself and he who perfects himself.") In a home setting the young child could ask an older sibling for assistance or the parent may need to help to undo the threading to prepare it for use again.
Once a child has mastered the art of 'unthreading' (which is much more challenging than the initial threading process!) then the Lacing Apple provides opportunities for long periods repetition without intervention from an adult.
Please note - one of the four year olds in my classroom recently pointed out to me that the 'caterpillar' doesn't appear to have any legs and must therefore be a worm! He is the first child in many years to make this observation but he is actually quite correct that a true caterpillar is the larval stage of an insect and should therefore have six working legs! So it's up to you if you would prefer to use the term 'worm' for the little green creature or if you would prefer to just assume that a caterpillar met with an unfortunate amputation accident!