Threading beads is a popular activity for people of all ages. From children and teenagers to adults and seniors, beading is a fun way to be creative and pass the time. Starting beading is easy. All you need are some thread and beads, such as semi-precious gemstone beads, and you will soon be on your way to creating some beautiful jewelry or other artistic pieces.
So, why do people start threading beads? Some people bead to create jewelry they can give to loved ones as gifts or even sell. Others start because of the therapeutic benefits of beading, and to help relieve stress and reduce day-to-day worries. You may have heard the term “bead therapy,” which perfectly sums up why some adults turn to beading. Threading beads can also be a particularly beneficial activity for children and seniors. It can support your little ones’ early development, providing transferable skills they can use as they grow. For seniors, beading provides additional health benefits and a great way to socialize.
Benefits of Threading Beads for Children
Improve fine motor skills: Threading beads can help to strengthen the small muscles in children’s hands as they grasp different sized beads. They will use various hand movements, depending on the size of the bead. For example, smaller beads will be picked up with a pincer grip (thumb and finger) while larger beads will use a clenched hand action. Using a bead tray to store your children’s beads provides even more opportunity to improve their fine motor skills. Reaching for a bead, picking up a bead, and then rotating the bead to thread it all use different hand movements. The benefit of developing fine motor skills through threading beads is that it uses similar hand movements to gripping a large pencil. Your child will get used to this action early, helping them to hold a pencil when they start coloring or writing during school.
Improve visual perceptual skills To successfully thread beads, children will use visual perceptual skills to see all the beads that are available, and then select the one they want to use. This may be based on a mental image in their mind of how they want their creation to look, or a pattern they are following.
Improve visual motor skills: Visual motor skills involve the combination of visual perception and motor skills; in other words, hand and eye co-ordination. To thread a bead onto the string, children will see the bead and the string using visual perception, and then use their hands to thread the bead onto the string in the right order. To start, use larger-sized beads with bigger holes and thicker string to make this task easier. Once your child gets the hang of this, you can move toward using smaller beads and thinner string to provide more of a challenge.
Increase concentration: Threading beads helps to increase concentration as children have to choose and sort beads, arrange them into patterns, and create their project. This will take concentration and dedication, so it will be helping your children develop these skills for later in life when concentrating is important––for example, when your children are in school and need to listen to the teacher to learn.
Inspire creativity Statistics show that children spend around two-thirds of their time in imaginative play. Threading beads can stimulate creativity as part of this play. A wide choice of bead colors, sizes, and styles provides the ultimate sensory experience and allows children the freedom to choose their patterns and designs to make their creations.
Enhance planning skills: As your children will decide on the pattern they want to create and the order the beads must be threaded to achieve this. This can help them become more organized in day-to-day life––for example, thinking about the best order to put clothes on to get dressed in the morning.
Encourage teamwork: Beading playdates can be fun and a great activity for everyone to get involved with, including adults. Children can build friendships while playing and learn how to share and consider other people. They can share creative ideas and support each other. For example, a child with higher ability may hold the string for another child, so they can focus on threading the bead. This encourages teamwork. Your children will also be excited to show you their creations. By delivering positive feedback and reassurance, you will be reinforcing the benefits of sharing achievements, as well as letting your children know it is okay to ask for help if they are struggling.
Expand counting skills: Beading also prepares children for math by counting beads and getting used to lengths and numbers. Encourage this further by asking your child “how many beads are on the string? Shall we count together?”\
Benefits of Threading Beads for Seniors
Bead therapy: One of the main reasons why seniors enjoy threading beads is because this therapeutic activity can relieve stress. Other health benefits include lowering blood pressure and increasing energy levels. It also keeps their fine motor, cognitive, and visual perceptive skills sharp. If a senior is already suffering from ill health or is going through a period of recovery, for example, from chemotherapy, threading beads can provide a welcome distraction. Having something pleasurable to focus on can help to reduce worry and anxiety.
Encourage socializing: In a similar way that children can have beading playdates, seniors can take part in the adult equivalent––threading beads as a group over a cup of coffee and a good old gab-fest. This can help to relieve feelings of loneliness, especially if seniors live on their own. It also provides a great excuse to get out of the house and socialize, making new, healthy friendships in the process.
Create personalized items: By choosing unusual styles and beads in different sizes and colors, seniors can create unique, customized pieces that match perfectly with a particular outfit to wear again and again. Seniors can also use beading to create thoughtful gifts for family and friends, fashioning keepsakes they will love. Beading can also be used as a source of income for additional support later in life.
Threading beads is enjoyable for people of all ages. Being able to design your own creations and wear pieces with pride ensures the pleasure lasts long beyond the original activity. It’s also important to consider how threading beads can help your child’s development, as well as the therapeutic qualities that can support seniors in later life.
Articles written by SensoryEdge are a combined effort of the SensoryEdge publishing staff. At SensoryEdge our focus is to educate, inform, and inspire each person caring for children to be and do their very best. It is not always easy and sometimes we don't take action (or we take the wrong action) because of a lack of understanding the real issues. We hope that the conversations that occur here will help in some small way better the lives of children, their families, and the professionals who work with them.
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