Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Ordering the alphabet by threading alphabet beads

I love to create fun and inviting activities, to encourage my daughter to be interested in letters. I know she loves playing hide and seek, so I thought why not hide some letters in a tray of dried beans and encourage her to find them. The result was an afternoon of fun, hunting for letters, playing with beans and learning about the alphabet.

Who can play?
Children aged three years and above, depending on their age and stage of development.

Children can choke on the beads, so adult supervision is needed.
As a rule of thumb, the threading string should be no longer than 8 inches (so that it can not be wrapped around the neck)

What do you need?
  • Alphabet beads or beads with the alphabet wrote on them with permanent markers.
  • A length of thread
  • Container to hold the beans and beads
  • Bowl to hold the alphabet beads when threading
  • The alphabet wrote on a piece of paper (I chose to use upper case letters, but you could use lower case)
  • Scoops/spoons or chopsticks to promote physical development when searching for and trying to pick up the letters

What did the Critique have to say?
"It's like hide and seek" Bee aged 3 years old

Questions to ask?
  • Can you find the letters that feature in your name?
  • How many letters are in the alphabet?
  • What words can you make? Start with CVC words first, like cat, dog etc
  • Can you thread the letters in the correct order of the alphabet?

What did we do?
The first thing that I had to do was set up the invitation to play. I did this by placing dried beans and the alphabet beads in a tray. I placed this on Bee's table in her playroom, ready for her to come home from preschool.


As soon as she saw the container, She picked up the box and placed it on the floor (maybe so she could easily access it). Soon she began to search and investigate its contents. Bee said "There's numbers in here!" and pulled out a letter B. "this one is in my name". At the moment she gets confused with letters and numbers, but that's OK and perfectly normal for her age. I gently reinforced that they were letters "You found a letter...I wonder what the name of that letter is?"

As we searched for the letters we sang the ABC song. I love the way she sings the 'L, M, N, O, P' part so tickles me every time.
Bee found the letters that feature in her name by scooping them up, picking them out with her fingers and using the chopsticks. She also enjoyed stacking the beads on top of each other making little towers.

The next thing we did was organize the letter beads on the paper, that I had wrote the alphabet on. Bee matched the letters and developed an awareness of space as she tried to fit them all on.


Once all the letter beads had been found, we began threading them onto the piece of string. This encouraged hand eye coordination, ordering and sequencing. We sang the alphabet song as she placed them on.

Once all the letters had been placed on the string, I tied a knot on the end (ensuring that the beads can not come off) I am planning to put it in Bee's storage unit in the back of the car, so that she can explore further.

What did we learn?
  • Communication and language- Discussing what she sees and finds in the box. 
  • Physical development- Fine manipulative skills whilst threading the beads onto the string and hand eye coordination. Building small towers with the beads.
  • Personal, social and emotional- Making relationships, developing social skills and  pride from finished product
  • Literacy- Recognizing and inking sounds to letters, learning how to read and blend/segment words. Organizing the letters of the alphabet. Spelling out her own name.
  • Mathematics- Ordering and sequencing, counting the letters of the alphabet and developing an awareness of space.
  • Understanding of the world- Whilst using the chop sticks we talked about how people use them in Asia to eat.
  • Expressive arts and design- Singing the alphabet song.

What could be done next?
  • We focused on Upper case letters for this activity, so our next step will be to do the same activity, but use lower case letters.
  • Use numbered beads instead of letters and see if your child can put them in the correct order
  • Make up words with the alphabet beads and thread them onto the string.

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