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Playing with beads has immense developmental benefits for preschoolers that are often overlooked. When we think of beading, we often think about threading beads. We might not be aware that there are bead mazes, large bead blocks and counting bead toys. When we look at the collection of these bead toys, the developmental benefits just pile up. In this post, I will introduce you to brands such as Melissa and Doug, Hape and other toy makers who make indoor preschool toys such as bead toys to help preschoolers work on a variety of skills.
My son JJ has a collection of bead toys that he will reach for when we are indoors. When he was 18 months old, he had a hard time concentrating on tasks. With a significant increase in gross motor skills, he was a boy who hated to sit still. However, every time a bead toy was presented to him, he at least played with it for a few minutes. Bead toys allowed him to work on his fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, math skills, social skills, and writing skills.
Developmental Benefits of Playing with Beading Toys
Fine Motor Skills – Playing with bead toys involve the manipulation of beads and strings with fingers. Turning the beads, threading the string, grasping the beads of varying sizes all work out little fingers.
Hand-Eye Coordination – In early development, it’s very important to work on visual memory, scanning and visual discrimination. Threading the beads or playing with bead mazes both involve: separating the beads (visual discrimination and scanning), step through a series of steps (visual memory) in order to accomplish the task.
Planning Skills – In order to thread the beads, a child has to grasp the bead first, then use the other hand to hold the string.
Concentration – This benefit is often overlooked. However, for active toddlers, bead toys can help to soothe an overactive sensory system. It can provide a place where the preschooler can work on concentration and focus.
Math Skills – Counting the beads offer an opportunity for older preschoolers to learn about numbers.
Social Skills – Bead Maze Activity Center is a great toy for siblings to play together. There are different sides to the activity center. On top, there are multiple bead mazes. Siblings can learn to work together to move the beads to a certain location.
Writing Skills – Beads come in different sizes. As the preschooler grows, smaller beads can be introduced. Grasping smaller beads are not easy. It is, in fact, similar to grasping a pencil for writing.
Top Indoor Preschool Toys – Beads
Country Critters Wooden Activity Play Cube by Hape
This versatile activities center has a lot of favorite preschool activities in one activities center:
- a shape
- a spinning maze
- a ball drop
- a color code activity
The entire activities center is animal themed. Older preschoolers will find moving the beads on top in the bead maze to be soothing. Younger preschoolers will love to play with the spinning maze, the ball drop and the shape sorter. This activities center is designed for plenty of productive sibling interaction.
Battat – Wooden Activities Cube
This activities center is a little cheaper. We have this at our home. We’ve also seen this activities center at many public libraries. The great thing about this activities cube is that it has an animal flip board that’s also alphabetized. There are names of animals such as: narwal, sloth etc.. that are exotic. Scruitinizing this flip board and learning the names of exotic animals is my son’s favorite activity at the moment.
Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Lacing Beads
This bead set has been our favorite since my son was a baby. Large beads of different shapes are bright and colorful. When he was one year old, he would feel the shapes in his fingers. I put the beads in a “mystery bag” for him. When he picked a bead, I named the shapes for him. He was completely mesmerized by the colors in this bead collection. At 18 months, my son loved to stack the beads of different shapes. At 2 years old, my son uses the large beads and the string inside the set. He still has a ways to go before threading multiple beads to make a necklace. But, he can at least thread one bead at a time.
Melissa & Doug First Bead Maze
This is a great bead maze for a younger preschooler. We’ve gotten to the point where we have to take it with us in the car. Sometimes, when my son is in meltdown mode, I can give him this toy to occupy him for a bit. The concentration that’s required to work on a bead maze allows my son to calm down.
Hape Wooden Rainbow Abacus
This wooden abacus is sturdy. My son tried it several times at a play space that we go to. At one year old, he learned to recognize colors by moving the beads from one side to the other. At two years old, he could name those colors as he moved them across. Close to three years old, he now counts (although out of sequence): one through ten on the Abacus. It’s the perfect toy for increasing both verbal and math skills.
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