My 4-year-old has recently become very interested in necklaces. He’s always had a bit of interest in my necklaces, but it never really stuck. Then his big brother bought him a cat necklace at the Artisan Fair where his big brother had a booth, which immediately turned my 4-year-old into an every day necklace wearer.
Following the introduction of the cat necklace, we took a family trip to Michigan, where – in addition to lots of family gathering and fun – we cleared out my [deceased] mother-in-law’s belongings in order to donate them to a local women’s shelter. In this process, we all picked out a few things that we wanted to wear or hold on to. My 4-year-old picked out one of his grandma’s necklaces, which he has since worn almost daily.
Fast forward another couple of weeks. We’re back home, and he has now discovered the fun of making his own bead necklaces. It started when he came across a big box of beads among our arts and crafts supplies.
“Mama,” he asked, “Are these for making necklaces?”
“They’re for making whatever you want, Love.”
“Will you make me a necklace?”
“Would you like me to show you how to make your own necklace?”
And with that, he was off. I set him up with a needle and a piece of string. I tied on the first bead, so he wouldn’t keep losing his end, and he made a necklace. Then he made another. And yet another. He made one for each member of our family. He made one for his grandma. He made one for his great grandma. Then he made three more for dear friends of ours. He’s having fun while making something beautiful for people he cares about. (He’s also talking about making them to sell at next summer’s artisan fair; he saw his older brother’s success and now he’s determined to run a booth of his own.)
In addition to enjoying himself and making something beautiful, both laudable ends in and of themselves, he’s also developing his fine motor skills. He’s learning how to work with a needle. He’s repeatedly threading that needle through the small holes in the beads. He’s learning to keep an eye on his string as he sews, making sure he doesn’t pull it so far it comes unthreaded from his needle. He’s sorting through small objects, and coming up with his own combinations of colors and shapes; each necklace has its own distinct look. He’s thinking about who might enjoy his finished projects. And all of this learning comes under the guise of having a good time and giving generously.
Learning is fun. Like everything else in life, it’s all in what you make of it.
If you want to set up your little one with their own bead making supplies, we used an assortment of beads like THESE, THESE, and THESE. He used this type of needle, and while the above picture shows his first necklaces made string we had on hand, we generally use something like THIS or THIS.
How do you encourage learning in your little ones?