Beads Are A Literacy Tool
Whats In The Workbox? Beads
Beads are a really neat medium for arts and crafts. You can do so many things with them. They are also really useful for teaching math, colors, sorting, and patterning concepts. They can also help strengthen a child’s eye hand coordination, fine motor skills, and more. But did you know they could also be used for literacy?
My ten year old son, does not like to write. He loves to talk. He will dictate a story for you to write. He loves to draw. He loves word puzzles, word search and crossword puzzles. He loves to read and gets in plenty of reading time. He loves math, and is a whiz at it. His favorite subject is science and engineering. But he doesn’t want to write sentences or work on spelling words.
His test scores are high in every category, except when it comes to spelling. I know this is normal for a boy of his age, and I choose not to worry about it.
I was brainstorming how I could incorporate more fun ways for him to work with letters. He loves legos and working with his hands. So rather than writing worksheets, spelling tests, or journaling which he just doesn’t seem ready for, I was trying to think of other ways to build his word skills, including typing on the computer, magnetic letters, letter puzzles, letter tiles, and such.
When we were at the local craft store, I found some really nice alphabet beads. I bought a package of colored alphabet beads for $4. I figured I would get him involved making something with letter beads. Even if he didn’t want to, at least I could use them with the younger kids.
I wasn’t sure how my son would take to this activity, but he surprised me and was very interested. At first I told him I needed his help sorting them and spelling a word for the younger kids so they can get used to how it is spelled.
( I know, I should be re-named the sneaky mother, as I am always finding ways to get him to participate even if it is a subject he hates. You should see what I sneak into his meat loaf! But it works with him and with his dad and siblings too. His personality is geared so that if I say I could really use his help, he will help even if it is a task he doesn’t like. His younger siblings? Forget it. You could beg and plead and if they don’t want to, they won’t! It takes lots of different “sneaky” strategies to make this house of seven flow.)
We are doing activities this month with the color “green” and I asked him to find the letters to spell “green” for me. As I mentioned, these letters were going to be used later in a letter activity with the younger kids.
He organized the whole container of beads by color, and found all the letters for the word “green”. He attempted the words of the other colors, but there was not enough letters to spell the colors. I was proud of him, as I didn’t ask him to go to that step. So, now I knew this was a manipulative that was peaking his interest.
After sorting out the colors and the word “green”, we put the other beads away. I gave him some cord and pony beads, and clear beads and he strung a necklace. He counted how many pony beads he wanted on each side. Then how many clear beads to place next to each letter bead and he came up with a nice pattern.
As he worked, he changed his mind a few times and unstrung the beads. Then he started over with counting and spacing them again.
He was really proud of the outcome. He especially likes it if he thinks it was all his idea. Shhhhhh. We won’t tell him he was set up…
He remade this again, taking it all apart and adding in black pony beads. You can see that version in the middle of the table below.
His brothers also wanted to work with the beads and spelling words, so we brought out a package of black and white alphabet beads also purchased from the same store for around $4.
This turned out to be a very good activity for boys. I knew girls enjoy making necklaces, but I never thought my boys would enjoy it and want to wear them. This is really a great activity for boys and girls. I think using colors that appeal more to boys, and using alphabet letters, made it seam like a guy thing. I am sure if we were using pink, purple, and delicate colors and flowers, my boys would not have been very interested.
In the picture below, the six year old is making a necklace with a message for his dad. We talked about making a pattern. He doesn’t yet have the insight to make the pattern first in his mind. He needs to lay out the parts and then follow the steps. Where the ten year old is able to see the pattern in his head and work from there.
The eight year old could not quite get the concept that if he picked up the necklace, before tying an end closed, his beads were going to slide off. I bet we picked up his beads at least a dozen times.
For some reason, he wanted to show me the necklace he made in a vertical position. Yep, you guessed it. Beads went everywhere over and over. He just wanted to hold it this way, but would forget to hold on to the bottom, at all times. Once he let go, we had beads all over the room. (I think he might have enjoyed this.)
When the ten year old had a huge array of alphabet letters to work with, his language skills really started to show. He made up all sorts of words, quickly and easily. Then he used two pipe cleaners, and put on the words “Back Jack”. Then he started chuckling and adding more beads and presented me with his funny necklace “Back Jack This Means You”. He laughed and laughed. I am not sure why it was so funny.
He continued making more words with the letters. I it was really obvious this was working as a learning tool for him.
Later that night, he wore his creation to the 4 H meeting. (To my horror. I hope
d no one would see it as disrespectful, because that wasn’t his intention, he just thought it was funny.) But he was so proud of his creation, I just couldn’t say no when he asked if he could wear it to the meeting.
Making beaded necklaces was a great activity, because various skill levels can participate and still have fun.
All of the boys had a lot of fun. We will definitely make this a regular activity in our workboxes. I would like to create spelling worksheets or various printables to go along with this.
I will keep you posted.
How do you incorporate words with your reluctant speller?
Leave a comment. Thank you!
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Kids Get Crafty
The Play Academy
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