Discover Big Kid Sensory Play!


Discover Big Kid Sensory Play: Fine Motor, Language, & Math Activities

Even big kids can enjoy sensory play. Children of all ages love digging their hands into a tray full of beads. They adore the feeling of the beads, and the sounds they make rattling together.  They like the imaginative possibilities beads hold.

I didn’t always know this. 


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My twins got
an amazing bucket  of beautiful wooden beads for their 4th birthday. It was similar to this Big Bead Box, except it also had letter beads. For a long time, we just used them for stringing necklaces and bracelets. 

I didn’t want the beads to spill and make a mess, so I kept them on a high shelf.

Yes, my kids really are growing. The other day they took the beads down from the high shelf, and started playing with them. 

Beads for Sensory Play

Only, they weren’t stringing the beads. They were dividing them into categories, pouring them into baskets, and carrying them around.   Their enthusiasm inspired me to share the idea
of using beads for sensory play. 

I pulled out a basket, lined it with a leftover
scrap of fleece fabric, then dumped all the beads in. Then, to make it more
interesting, we added an ice cube tray and a small bowl for sorting into.

Discover Big Kid Sensory Play: Fine Motor, Language, & Math Activities

My kids could
hardly wait for me to finish taking pictures of the setup. They wanted to put
their hands in and play! 

Discover Big Kid Sensory Play: Fine Motor, Language, & Math Activities

I had been thinking of this as sensory play for preschoolers.
Yet, once I let my 5-8 year olds loose, they entertained themselves for a surprisingly
long time.

It’s amazing
how a new presentation of an old toy will spark kids’ imagination.
Once your
kiddos have their fill of free play, consider these activities:

Language
Activities

  • Use letter
    beads to form simple words.
Discover Big Kid Sensory Play: Fine Motor, Language, & Math Activities

Yes, telling a story with beads might sound crazy…bear with me.

Did you ever read One
by Kathryn Otoshi? Or Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni? The characters in these books are just blobs of color. Yet the stories are
wonderful! 

You and your child could retell one of those stories or create your
own using beads as characters.

Math
Activities

  • Estimate
    how many beads there are. Then count them.
  • Sort beads
    by color, shape, and texture.
  • Organize
    beads into a repeating pattern.
Discover Big Kid Sensory Play: Fine Motor, Language, & Math Activities
  • Use them to
    add and subtract, and even group them to demonstrate multiplication and
    division concepts.

Fine Motor
Activities

Any kind of
play with beads of this size is great fine motor practice. Here are a few more
ideas:
Discover Big Kid Sensory Play: Fine Motor, Language, & Math Activities

  • Stringing
    beads – I like to use embroidery thread and a dull needle. I thread the needle,
    then secure it with an overhand knot. On the other end, I tie on the first bead
    to make a “stopper” for the other beads.
  • Line beads
    up in shapes – draw simple shapes, or even short words, for kids to line with
    beads.
  • Stack up as many square shaped beads as
    possible before they topple.

Use Your Imagination

Beads are fun because they allow open-ended, imaginative activities. I’d love to hear about the creative (and not so creative, but fun) ways you and your kids play with beads. Feel free to leave a comment below, or strike up a conversation on the Books and Giggles Facebook page. Don’t be shy!

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