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I can’t believe that it has been two years since I decided to step out of the classroom and stay home to be a full-time mommy to my daughter, Dessa. In those two years, a lot has changed. Our family was blessed last fall with the arrival of our son, Harvey. The struggles of balancing motherhood with work and everything else has continued to be a daily struggle, and life at home has continued to keep me extra busy.
My husband and I had been planning to send Dessa to preschool for the first time this fall, but we ultimately decided to delay preschool for a year and provide her with more intentional learning experiences at home. I don’t have plans to formally homeschool my children now or in the future, but Dessa is young enough that she doesn’t require elaborate lesson plans. We use play-based and simple activities at home as a springboard to promote her learning and development, and she is thriving.
Last week we created simple bracelets with pony beads and pipe cleaner, which served as a perfect opportunity to work on patterns. If you are looking for a simple way to engage your toddler, this activity just might be perfect for your family! (And if you have a baby at home who is always getting into mischief, do what we did and save this project for when the baby is asleep.)
This is such a simple task to do with your toddler, but it is highly engaging. I didn’t want to overwhelm Dessa with a rainbow of bead colors and too many choices to distract her from creating patterns, so I let Dessa pick the two colors she wanted to work with first. She chose red and blue beads with a blue pipe cleaner. I got her started on the activity by sliding one bead down the pipe cleaner and folding the end of the pipe cleaner to prevent the rest of the beads from sliding off the back as Dessa worked. (We happened to have star beads that Dessa really wanted to incorporate into her bracelet, but any bead would work.) Next, I got her started by demonstrating how to create a simple ABAB pattern with red and blue beads, then let her do the rest.
Little by little, Dessa worked to continue the pattern and place additional beads onto her bracelet. I’ve attempted some activities during the quarantine that were a total flop and couldn’t hold Dessa’s attention for more than two minutes, but this was not the case with beaded bracelets. She was completely engaged and you could practically feel her level of concentration in the air.
Even though this was designed to be an activity to work on Dessa’s patterning skills, it had the added benefit of being a great fine motor activity. Any activity that activates and challenges those little fingers now will make writing and coloring easier (and less stressful) for Dessa later on when she is ready for school.
If I happened to see two blue beads or red beads in a row, I simply pointed out what had happened, and Dessa was quick to remove the extra bead and replace it with the correct color.
After a few minutes, Dessa’s first bracelet was complete! I threaded the loose end of the pipe cleaner through the first fold, then tucked the end under the beads to keep the bracelet secure.
Dessa couldn’t wait to create more bracelets, so we kept the good times rolling! Next up was a purple and green bracelet, then one with orange and yellow beads. I offered support and encouragement along the way for the purple bracelet, then worked on a few household tasks while Dessa beaded the orange bracelet all by herself. Occasionally, I would remind her to do a yellow/orange pattern, but Dessa worked nearly independently and it was a good opportunity for me to see just how well she can execute an ABAB pattern on her own. Not surprisingly, she needs more practice. And that’s perfectly ok. I don’t expect her to become a pattern master in a day.
Dessa was extremely cooperative during the activity and made patterns for me, but I knew she was itching to make a bracelet with all the bead colors. I had promised that she could make a rainbow bracelet when she was finished making patterns and Dessa was so happy when she finally had a chance to create that beaded rainbow.
Once her rainbow bracelet was complete, I bent the end of the pipe cleaner, tucked it through the beads, and handed Dessa her final masterpiece. She proceeded to slip on all four bracelets and show off her brand new arm candy.
If you have a toddler at home and you’re searching for a way to engage your child in a meaningful way, try making beaded bracelets! It was a hit with Dessa and I hope it will be for your child too.
Stock Up On Project Supplies
These days I buy almost everything from Amazon and I’m sure you can relate. Here are a few quick shopping links to get you started if you want to create beaded pattern bracelets at home. Just click on any of the images below!
We keep things pretty simple at my house. My husband and I choose to entertain our two young children with simple activities and very few toys. You can often see glimpses into our daily activities in Instagram stories on our lifestyle account @crazytogetherblog or get a more in-depth look on the Crazy Together blog.