Monday, October 28, 2013

Building Math Skills with Beading

The other day I was looking for something quiet for Big Brother and I to do while Little Brother took his nap. I realized we hadn't done any beading in a while. As soon as I knew Big Brother was too old to put small things into his mouth I introduced him to using beads.

We use classic "pony" beads. Originally we started with stringing them onto pipe cleaners, as they were easier for little hands to start with but these days we use a thin, satin ribbon. We tie one bead to an end to be a stopper as he beads. When he finishes we knot the other end through the bead.

I've liked keeping beads on hand as it promotes developing fine motor skills, including the small muscles in a child's hand which we use everyday for a multitude of things: writing, buttoning, zipping, playing, etc. It also promotes hand-eye coordination, helping our brain to get our eyes and hands to work together.

But as we were creating our necklace this day it struck me how much more we were doing; this simple quick project was full of early math skills. All of the skills mentioned below are important in developing early mathematical understanding which will lead to stronger reasoning, logical thinking, and complex problem solving skills.

Sorting: To begin with we decided to use Halloween colors, so we sorted out the green, purple, and orange pony beads from the other colors in our set. Sorting involves looking at a set or collection and discriminating specific differences or similarities and then grouping alike things together.

Creating and Following Patterns: Big Brother recently has been interested in exploring what patterns are and how to follow one. Currently the patterns he creates usually only have two colors or objects. He chose to create two different patterns for this necklace. Recognizing and following a pattern is not only an important math skill, but a pre-reading skill as well. 

Counting: Counting objects helps kids to develop 1:1 correspondence (the ability to connect the amount of specific objects to the number being counted instead of just counting randomly as high as they can count.) After creating his first pattern, Big Brother wanted to see how many he had put on so he counted. On his second pattern he decided he wanted to put on 16 beads, so he kept recounting to see how close he was getting. 

Adding: Some of our counting lead to early addition skills. For example, now you have 8 beads, how many more do you need to get to 10? 

We decided to use some letter beads as well, which meant now we were practicing some pre-reading skills as Big Brother searched for the letters in his name. 

When he was done, Big Brother was really proud of his creation. And I was yet again reminded that you don't have to create a super amazing project with lots of steps in order to create great learning opportunities for your kiddo. It can be as simple as engaging over some beads on your living room rug. 

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