Bead Mazes – Not Just Another Educational Toy

Rollercoaster bead toys are a favorite of pediatricians and teachers.
Designed for children from 18 months to 5 years, rollercoaster toys are a three-dimensional manipulative experience in the perceptual, motor and language areas. Developmental and learning skills are “challenged” through fun play! 

Eye Hand Coordination…

Encourage the child to move the rollercoaster beads from one end to another following the paths of the wires. Start with the least complex wire (blue). The red, blue, orange and green are progressively more complex in their bends and turns as they develop and challenge the eye-hand coordination.
Finger Fun Activity Table
Visual Tracking…
Have the child follow the movement of the beads with the eyes. Vary the type of movements such as fast, slow, up, down and around.
Imaginative Play…
The rollercoaster invites imaginative play. In a child’s mind the beads transform into cars, trains, airplanes and rocket ships. Pretend play is vital to the development of imaginative skills.
Language Development… Ask the child to relate a story in words and sounds as he/she plays with the rollercoaster. Help to expand vocabulary.
Color and Shape Recognition… Ask the child to identify the primary colors. Direct him/her to point to the red, blue, green, etc.  Ask what color beads are on each different wire. Increase the difficulty by asking to identify different shapes in combination with the various colors
Grouping… Instruct the child to make a pattern that has two (2) groups of three (3) beads, one (1) group of five (5) beads, two (2) groups of four (4) beads, etc. Children always find this fun. 
Problem Solving… Ask the child to put three (3) beads on the longest wire, two (2) beads on the shortest wire, etc. There are numerous possibilities relating to colors, grouping, shape, length and direction which will allow for development of problem solving. Give clues to help “unravel” the problem.
Directional Change and Spatial Relations… Demonstrate concepts such as over, under, left, right, up and down. The rollercoaster enables difficult concepts to unfold right before a child’s eyes.
Understanding Numbers/Math… Playing with the rollercoaster with numbers and counting. Exercise: Stack a number of beads on a wire. Have child count beads. Next add or subtract beads one at a time. After each movement ask the child how many are now on the stack or how many are left. Vary the number of beads added or subtracted. Allow the child to feel the beads as they are added to or taken away from the stack. Demonstrate the basics, e.g., 1+1=2; 2-1=1. Remember the rollercoaster is like an abacus!
Mirror and Bead Children's Pathfinder Wall Game
Memory Activities…  Set up a pattern of beads and ask the child to study the pattern. Remove the pattern and ask the child to repeat or replace the pattern. This improves visual memory and makes for a delightful game. Other memory activities involve the child closing the eyes after studying the patterns and then opening his eyes after the teacher/parent changes the pattern and thereafter having the child point out the changes.
Pre-writing Skills…
The configuration of the wires designed so that the movement of the beads along the paths aids in the development of finger and wrist dexterity. Such flowing and curving motions are prerequisite to developing basic writing skills.
Whether you get your developmental toys from us or not we hope you got value from this article and can apply the information during your play time with the kids you love to play with.
Some of the information listed here came from the information included Anatex’s Original Rollercoaster Handout. That toy was really THE ORIGINAL when it comes to wire & bead maze toys.
Fleur from Anatex credits watching her son play as the inspiration for inventing this perfect developmental toy that revolutionized the industry and became the standard in waiting room toys in pediatric offices worldwide.
We strongly support the use of wire and bead maze toys in educational and waiting room environments for young children. The need to develop fine motor skills in a natural play based way is crucial to the physical and emotional well being of our kids.

This article was original published on our blog in 2013 but was updated with new information on January 16, 2016.

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