Rainy day? Stuck inside? Beading is one of those activities that never seems to go stale. Here's an activity to get your kindergartener practicing math patterns while making trendy, noodle "jewelry". She'll also be building her fine motor skills by creating beautiful necklaces, bracelets, or anklets to wear or give as gifts.
What You Do:
- Prepare the pasta! Put 1 tablespoon of rubbing alcohol and several drops of one color of food coloring into each sandwich bag. Add ½ to 1 cup of dry pasta.
- Zip the bag and gently work the color through the pasta. Use a slotted spoon to remove pasta and spread on wax paper to dry. Repeat to create different colors of pasta "beads."
- If you have a glitter-loving fashionista, you can also add a finishing touch once the pasta dries: spray one color or more of the beads to give them a little extra dazzle.
- Once the pasta is dry, your child can lay out patterns. Younger children can start with just two colors to create an a-b-a-b-a-b pattern and then aa-bb-aa-bb-aa-bb patterns. Older children can add a third color to create a-b-c-a-b-c-a-b-c- patterns, aa-bb-cc-aa-bb-cc-aa-bb-cc- patterns, or any combination that repeats over and over.
- In order to reinforce other math skills, have your child count all the beads in the set. Then, when you’ve gotten to aa—bb—cc patterns, count off by twos and tens. Can your child figure out how many noodles are needed for a kid’s necklace or bracelet? How about for a mom's?
- Cut a string long enough to make a necklace. Wrap a small piece of masking tape around one end to create a “needle," or a stiff point that will easily thread through the pasta.
- Thread one piece of pasta and knot the end of the string around that piece to keep the pasta from slipping off the necklace.
- Thread the pattern onto the string, tie the ends together, and let your young designer slip into the latest fashionable jewelry!
What’s Going On:
Being able to create and extend patterns will give your child a leg up in kindergarten math. Ever seen blocks and beading activities in the classroom? They're there because, as kids learn to understand numbers, they need to be able to understand abstract patterns, something that beading and block-building provide practice in.
With this activity, your child will also be exercising and strengthening important fine motor muscles and eye-hand coordination, both crucial to writing and school success. And of course, everyone hopes that your child is doing this while having a whole bunch of fun!
Cindy Middendorf, an elementary teacher for 30 years in Tioga Couty, New York, is the author of Differentiating Instruction in Kindergarten, and a nationally respected teacher trainer and mentor.