Jewelry making can be a fun family activity that allows kids to express themselves through their own creations. Making jewelry is a great hobby for kids because it allows them to “dress up” and also to have hand made gifts to give their loved ones and friends.
It also has many educational benefits. (Shhhhh! Keep this quiet and just let them think they are having fun!) The keys to success are knowledge of the child’s developmental skills, organization of the materials and lots of praise and adoration for their work.
Use bead boxes or even egg cartons to store and sort beads. Having them in bags makes them hard to retrieve and likely to get spilled.
Also, always give your child an edged tray to work on to keep beads from rolling or getting scattered. When one hundred beads roll across the floor, jewelry making goes from friend to foe.
For preschoolers, who are learning to master fine motor skills, use “shoe string” type thread that is easy to hold and manipulate and large-holed beads. Many pasta noodles will even work as beads. They can be put into a plastic bag and your child can sprinkle in a few drops of food coloring, close the bag and “squish” them around. Allow the noodles to dry on a paper towel for a couple of hours and you’ll be almost ready to begin. For all ages working with beads, but especially preschoolers, don’t forget the edged tray!
At first allow preschoolers to make their creations “frees style” with out a pattern just to get the hang of the fine motor skills involved in beading. This really helps with hand eye coordination and strengthening little fingers for writing.
Skills such as counting and naming shapes and colors can be reinforced subtly while you’re both working. Adults can help by “modeling” the task while making their own necklaces, but allow preschoolers to do their own thing unless they ask for help. Also, this age group can have quick gratification. They are usually happy with just a few beads.
Later you can encourage kids to try simple patterns which will get them ready for reading and math in kindergarten. Wooden beads are awesome for this. Try simple patterns that alternate colors first like red, blue, red blue. Later you can add more colors or even alternate shapes, like orange square, yellow ball, orange square, yellow ball.
You’ll no doubt be the recipient of one of the beautiful creations so wear it with smiles and pride.