I’ve had a few questions about the materials we used for beading with my 4 year old this week. I have a bunch of different stuff in my beading bucket 😉 but I’ll list some options for you that are easy to grab on Amazon. Honestly, depending on the day, I might rather go to JoAnn’s and use my coupons and see what is the best deal but when I’m in normal craycray mode, Amazon is my go-to. So, I’ll list the Amazon links, but you can always use this as a guide through your local craft store as well!
1.) When mine are young and/or their fine motor skills aren’t great, I like lacing card/bead strings to use for beaded necklaces. They have a long aglet (apparently that’s the word for the long plastic thingy on the ends of your shoe laces) that allows for easy beading. I just tie a bead on one end as the knot and then I let them go to town. Once the beading is done (and some beads have inevitably fallen off and I’ve consoled and replaced the beads), I just tie a giant knot together…it’s not super pretty but it works. The lacing bead strings also tend to be longer, which somehow I feel like is safer for toddlers so they won’t accidentally choke (?!? this makes no real sense, but it’s what I do).
2.) Pony Bead Lacing Cord is what we progressed to next. It’s a plastic cording that I feel like is a little “older” looking but it’s still stiff enough that it’s easy to string beads on and can just be tied in an easy knot at the end. It comes in a longer roll, so you can just cut to size (always leave longer than you think you need – these darned beads are hard to tie on sometimes).
2) This same type of plastic cording comes in a necklace form that has a plastic clasp already on the end. One side is thinner so it’s easy to string the beads on and it’s easy to open and close for little ones – this is my favorite/easiest way to make necklaces lately with my 4 year old.
3.) I just tried this Stretch Magic cord this week but it seems relatively good and is much thinner than the other options I’ve listed so far. It does stretch a little so is forgiving if you happen to cut the string too short for the necklace your 4-year-old was working on…hypothetically, of course. It is a little harder to tie at the end because it’s thinner/slicker but it’s easy to lace your excess string back through the first couple of beads to make sure it’s secure.
4.) I just bought elastic cording for my son today because he’s apparently promised 2 girls in his class that he’ll make them bracelets – hahaha. I haven’t purchased this before because I felt like it would be too flimsy for little hands and I know it will fray and some of the beads with smaller holes won’t fit on it easily, but given the whole-hearted request to make bracelets happen, I succumbed and we’ll try it.
I have a container labeled “beads” in my craft closet and we just buy what we like and store each different type of bead in separate plastic baggies within the box. I’m sure that there are 4-year-old girls all over the world with cute little bead organizers, but I know that one flying boy leg is going to make the whole thing tumble and my OCD brain won’t be able to handle all of the beads mixed together. So, pick your poison 🙂
Here are some of the beads that we like the best:
- Classic, Glitter, and/or Glow in the Dark Pony Beads
- Animal Beads – these are the hit at my house – and have always been used in my boys’ preschool classrooms – (they have transparent ones at the craft stores, but I couldn’t find on Amazon)
- Letter Beads
- “Sports” Beads…cause anything with a sports ball makes it automatically “not girly” in our house, which is apparently cool
- If you don’t mind or even like a mixed bag…literally…I just saw an awesome bag of mixed beads in the craft section of Target today that you can buy online here – and they’re pretty cheap!
If you think you can roll with a cute bead organizer, I might just buy the beads in a kit and get started in one fell swoop. This set looked cute on Amazon, though I clearly haven’t purchased it before…and it’s not the most “masculine” of sets if you’re looking for boys. Maybe throw in some of the ball beads listed below and they won’t notice. **I don’t know how small the holes are in these beads and whether they’ll fit through all of the cording I listed above, so just know that in advance!
1.) Key chain Clasps: Any of these strings can be tied onto the end of these cute key chain clasps – they’re big and plastic so they’re easy for little ones to use and I feel like we’ll make about a million key chains over the course of the upcoming birthday party season 😉 I didn’t love that I couldn’t find a bag on Amazon smaller than 100 count that seemed to be reasonably price but someone told me that Hobby Lobby carries them, so you might try there if that’s in your area.
2.) I have some sorting trays that I use with beads…but I can’t remember where they’re from. We like to pour out our different types of beads into different cubbies…like I said, I’m OCD and don’t like the beads to mix. Here are some nicer ones if you think you’ll use them for other activities around the house. Or, just use a good old fashioned muffin tin from your cabinet.
Whew – who knew there could be so many words about an easy preschool activity? But, hopefully you find some options that make it easy to get up and running. And, fingers crossed that it’s something your little decides he loves so it buys you a few minutes of peace over coffee.