Some of the children have been super excited about decorating for Christmas. I have been hearing all about the time they have been spending with their families, especially about their Christmas trees!
Earlier this week, I introduced the children to the idea that they can make their very own Christmas Ornaments -- and that has been the top response I have received from the children when asking them to help plan our day. The first ornaments we made this year used our special "Christmas Clay Dough" - and are a great keepsake for the parents as the children created Fingerprint Ornaments.
Today, our focus switched to working on our fine motor skills while creating for the tree with our spiral beaded ornaments. We used an assortment of beads (most of them are pony beads and have a larger hole than regular beads) and pipe cleaners/chenille stems.
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I have given the children these supplies for years to help build fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. I like to give them an opportunity to succeed, and the stiffness of the chenille stem (because it is made with wire) makes it easier for them to thread the beads. (String works too, but is more difficult for beginners to thread.)
I love to watch the concentration as they diligently work to add the beads. I know that small beads can be a choking hazard, but I don't let that stop me from allowing the young toddlers to participate. In order to keep it safe, I work either one-on-one or in small groups. I allow the children to choose their own beads, but to only take one at a time. Today, our group of children ranged in age from 16 months to almost 3 years. NONE of the children even attempted to put the beads in their mouths.
Not all of the children had a finished product to display, but all of the children were highly engaged in the process of this activity. For one of the children, spending time putting the beads on the stem was quite rewarding, but being able to quickly slide them all off was just as fun! I was careful to remain close in order to support, but not to jump in to determine when the activity was "done" for that child. Clearly, having a completed spiral ornament was not on his agenda- and I respected that.
When the children were done (which of course was not at the same time). I showed them a picture of the icicle ornaments I saw over at Happy Hooligans. Then I asked them if they wanted to help to spiral their stem into an ornament like the ones we looked it. If they responded yes, I helped them to twirl it!
As I previously mentioned, we have been beading on pipe cleaners for years and we have made numerous ornaments in this manner, but I NEVER thought about simply turning them into a spiral until I saw Jackie's post of inspiration! Hop on over to check out her blog when you have a chance- she has an amazing array of ideas and inspiration!