Thursday, July 2, 2015

Emma's Entertainment: Beads

Let me start off by saying that I thought about this activity for quite sometime before I actually jumped the gun and tried it. Emma is still very much into putting things in her mouth. And her ears... that's a newer quirk, but still definitely not a bead friendly one.

After much consideration and a lot of mulling over possible bead scenarios, I just went for it. And I am so glad I did! This activity has kept us occupied every day for at least 20 minutes. This is like hours to an 18 month old! The first day she actually played with beads for over 30 minutes. Truth be told, I'm so used to the fast paced play of a toddler, that I was actually getting bored.

Moving on, here is how we got ready for our bead exploration AND the different ways Emma has enjoyed interacting with beads. 

I started off getting prepared during Emma's naps. This purely came from not wanting her to see my bead collection. She is in love with bags... I didn't want her see my bag full of pony beads and insist on having the whole bag. I try to avoid meltdowns at all costs.

While Emma napped I put out a couple of pipe cleaners and one of those cute silicone ice cube trays from IKEA. I filled the tray filled with about 20 beads spread out over a couple of the openings. Major preparations, I know.

When Emma woke, we snuggled, had a snack and I introduced her to the beads. The first thing she did was take a bead and go for her mouth. She was looking right at me as she did this. She's a smart cookie but sometimes the urge to taste things wins. The eye contact made it really easy to tell her no. She tried about 3 more times before she realized that she wasn't going to get away with it. Then she moved onto her ears. One bead for each ear... she only tried this 2 times before giving the idea up. This was the end of the bodily bead exploration, and she really hasn't tried eating/earring any beads since!

I beaded a couple of beads onto a pipe cleaner before I encouraged her to try. She was working so, so hard to do this. Her little concentration face is the absolute best. Pursed lips, puffed out cheeks, focused eyes... love it all.

I started out by holding the pipe cleaner for her. Then my big girl wanted to do that part herself! She gave it a try but decided it was far less frustrating when mama held it. She did get a few beads on though!
Beading the pipe cleaners kept us busy for quite awhile. So did unbeading the pipe cleaner and putting beads in the ice cube trays. Perhaps her MOST favorite though was dropping a bead on the floor and yelling, 'got it!' Then we got a little crazy and dumped a handful on the floor. Good thing about toddler hands is that they are tiny, so it was only a couple of beads really. 

Emma's also really into taking the beads out of the ice cube tray and putting them back in, one at a time. She also likes straight up dumping the entire tray on the carpet and cleaning them back up. This one is more 'messy' but it's kept her so entertained that I haven't really minded.

Obviously this activity is good for their hand eye coordination and their fine motor skills, but it can also be expanded into sorting, counting, colors, and the foundation for division and fractions. Once a teacher, always a teacher.

BUT just as important as all of those skills, is the fact that she was having SO much fun! That, right there is my favorite kind of play... the kind of play that is engaging and educational, in a sneaky way.

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