Today’s 5 Bead & Ball Activities can be brought out and set up super quickly and just as quickly be tidied up for another day! This activity helps to foster fine motor skills, early math skills, such as pattern recognition and number awareness, with a touch of a sensory experience thrown in for good measure!
I have included multiple ways of doing this activity with your child. You can do them all or save some for a different day. One thing that I used to do in daycare is to set up activities, usually on a play tray, to create a play “center” at a table then, just watch to see how the children use it without instruction. You would be surprised with what they come up!!
Ok, so here is what I used for this activity.
- wooden dowels
- play dough
- practice golf balls
- large dice
1. Bead Tower
I took a piece of play dough in order to secure the wooden dowel in place. The great thing about using play dough is that is can manipulated countless times to secure the wooden dowel, PLUS it also adds a sensory experience when molding the play dough and re-positioning and securing the wooden dowel! I placed a bowl of large beads beside the play dough and dowel tower.
The goal of this activity is to place the beads on the dowel, one on top of the other, creating a Bead Tower.
Simple right? While it might seem simple to us, remember, your child’s brain is still developing we need to challenge that brain. This simple activity helps to develop fine motor skills, by picking up the beads and successfully placing them on the wooden dowel. Fine motor skills are essential in later life for things like holding a pencil, buttoning a button or putting a thread through a needle!
2. Bead Tower with Dice
The set up for this one is identical to the Bead Tower, with the addition of a large foam dice. The goal of this activity is to roll the dice and place the same number that you rolled with the same number of beads onto the wooden dowel. So if the child rolls a 2, they place 2 beads on the tower!
Adding the dice adds a whole new set of developmental skills to the activity. The child will have to count and identify the number that they rolled on the dice then count out that many beads on their tower, supporting number awareness and counting along with the fine motor skills.
3. Pattern Bead Tower Game
A third way to play this game is by playing along with your child. For this activity, you would set up 2 identical play trays, the same as the you would in the Bead Tower activity. One for you and one for the child. You would create a pattern of beads on your Bead Tower and the goal of this activity is for the child to recreate the same pattern on their Bead Tower!
This activity will assist in pattern recognition, which is a very important skill for a child to learn and master. Mastering pattern recognition allows children to make predictions about what is coming up next! It also supports fine motor skills, as mentioned in the previous activity options.
4. Ball Tower
I found these practice golf balls at the dollar store and thought it would be a great addition to this activity set. The gold ball option can add a different level of complexity to the activity because there are 2 holes to put through the wooden dowel. This will require some manipulation, which is a good thing.
The set up for this activity is the same as the bead tower, except, instead of the beads, you place the practice gold balls on the tray.
Can you guess which skills are being practiced?
You guessed it, fine motor skills when placing the balls onto the tower, early math skills when counting the golf balls and patterning skills, if you use different colored golf balls.
5. Timed Tower Battle Game
This one is fun to do with older children. By adding a timed element, it challenges them to use their skills in a much quicker way. This set up is identical to the Ball Tower, with the addition of a timer. I was always the timer LOL!
The goal of this activity is to be able to place all the practice golf balls onto the tower and once that is done, stop the timer! The secondary goal is to try and beat their own time. Adding the timer also adds the ability for more controlled movements and focus in order to achieve and better their end result. This becomes a fabulous way to practice those skills, over and over again!
Please keep in mind that not all children appreciate the timed factor! I had children in daycare who LOVED playing it and others who HATED it. You know your child better than anyone so you it’s your call.
The goal is to give your child countless opportunities to practice their skills. Only with practice can they learn to master them! The challenge is also to change up the same activities so they become new again!
If you need the PERFECT play dough recipe, you can find it here.
Have fun with it, and more importantly HAVE FUN WITH THEM!
Until my next post,