3 – 4




What to do with this activity?

Threading large wooden beads onto a shoelace, a piece of string, or a pipe cleaner is fun for 3 and 4 year olds. As a play activity it might also improve: 

  1. Grasping and hand movement skills - that will help develop hand and finger muscles used to hold and control pencils and crayons.
  2. Hand-eye co-ordination - accuracy will improve as they try to push the shoelace through the hole.
  3. Visual and pre-maths skills - get them to try to form a regular pattern with the beads. For instance, blue, red, green, then blue, red, green again. 
  4. Counting skills - count the number of blue beads or red beads.

If you don't have wooden beads, use large pasta tubes (like macaroni). Have a look at this threading fun from Laughing Kids Learn. 

Make sure always to supervise this activity as small items and shoelaces can go places they shouldn't.


  • Why am I doing this?

    There are at least four stages in learning to write. The first is movement - your child learning to control their body and their hands - reaching, feeling and holding things - is part of this first stage.


    The second stage is making marks - seeing that if you put this crayon here and move it, it makes a mark.


    Drawing is a third stage.


    The fourth then is learning how to make letters and later words.


    For your child, the more they are aware about how useful writing is, the better. Seeing you writing is great and you pointing out other people writing will help them see how useful it is too.

  • How can I do more?

    It’s always good to keep crayons and paper close at hand, so that you can give them to your child anytime to play with.


    Write words under your child’s drawing – like their name or what they have drawn – that will help them understand the meaning of words.


    Later you could clip 10 or 12 of these drawings together to make a book. This will show your child how books can be made.


    Let your child see you writing – notes, lists, letters and emails. If you don't write much yourself, show your child other people writing when you are out and about.


    Encourage your child to use ‘pretend’ writing in play - writing their own name, notices or price lists. You could even give them a little notebook when you go to the shops or when they’re playing ‘shop’ with their friends.

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