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Why Threading Beads is Important for Your Child’s Development

Threading beads, also known as stringing beads, is a great activity for toddlers and preschoolers and one that has numerous developmental benefits.

You will find a tub of beads and string in every preschool classroom, for good reason. 

Although beads may not seem all that fun or as flashy as most of the “educational toys” out there, they are valuable learning tools every child should have at home.

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At What Age Can a Child Thread Beads?

Threading can be a challenging activity that takes a while for a child to master and is very much dependent on their maturity and fine motor development.

Toddlers of 18 months to 2 years often start trying to thread big beads or objects but not with much control.

By the age of 4 or 5, a child should be able to thread regular-sized playing beads (like these ones) and even make patterns while stringing them.

Note that expecting a child to thread tiny beads (used to make necklaces and bracelets) is challenging even for 6-8-year-olds.

preschooler using small beads

The important thing is that your child has regular exposure to threading activities. With time and maturity, he will develop better control and be able to thread smaller-sized beads.

As a rule, always offer toddlers large beads (or other objects) that have big holes. As they get older, they will be able to control and thread smaller beads.

9 amazing benefits of threading beads pinterest image

How Do You Play with Threading Beads?

Threading beads can be played with as they are, or you can improvise and use other toys and materials to practise the skill of threading.

Threading Activities for Toddlers

If you are introducing your toddler to threading, I recommend using large, oversized beads (such as these) that are easier for little fingers to handle.

Another alternative is to thread fun wooden animals, fruits and vegetables. My daughter has a similar set to this and loves them.

It took a while for her to realize that once she got the string into the hole, she had to pull it out on the other side, instead of pulling it out on the same side.

A good way to introduce threading is to cut up toilet rolls into manageable pieces and thread those into a rope or string.

After many confused attempts, the penny dropped and that was all part of the fun learning journey.

Threading Activities for Preschoolers

Your preschooler is ready to properly learn to thread and you can have some threading fun in many ways:

  • Use a store-bought set of plastic or wooden beads and string
  • Thread macaroni onto a string
  • Thread large buttons or spools onto a string 
  • Pierce a hole into flowers or leaves and make a nature necklace
  • Thread cereal loops to make an edible necklace

If you don’t have string or want to change up the activity, use any of these alternatives:

  • Straws
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Cotton
  • Twigs from the garden
  • Pencils 

With an older preschooler, introduce patterning by asking your child to thread according to a ‘rule’, such as ‘one white bead followed by two red beads,’ or ‘two big beads, two small beads.’

Let’s explore the importance of threading beads for your child’s development.

child threading beads onto a string

What is the Difference Between Threading and Lacing?

The words threading and lacing are often used in the same context and interchanged. Some of the threading toys I have suggested in this article are even called ‘lacing toys’ on Amazon.

They do, however, mean slightly different things. 

Threading is actually stringing beads or other items onto a thread (string, rope, cotton, etc.) like you would a necklace [source]. 

Lacing is passing a thread into and out of holes of a surface, such as when tying laces of shoes or lacing a string around a cardboard cutout with holes in it (such as these). [source]

Why is Threading Beads Good for Children?

Here are some of the many benefits of threading beads activities for toddlers and preschoolers.

Fine Motor Control

Threading is an excellent way to strengthen the finger muscles and learn to control the fingers as they work together. 

Developing fine motor skills in childhood is essential if a child is to learn to hold a pencil and write. There is more value in doing pre-writing activities during the preschool years than in teaching a young child to write prematurely.

Bilateral Coordination

Bilateral coordination is about using both sides of the body to perform tasks such as dressing, cutting a piece of paper and walking. 

There are movements that are symmetrical (such as clapping hands), alternating (such as running) and then there are movements that require a dominant and a supporting hand.

When stringing beads, a child must learn to hold the bead with one hand while controlling the string with the other. 

preschooler threading colorful beads onto a string

Colour Recognition

Beading is a great way to practise colour recognition. There is no need to use worksheets in preschool to teach concepts like shapes and colours. 

While your child is playing, ask her to pass you the red bead, make a pattern with blue and orange beads, or tell you what colour bead she wants to string next.

Visual Perception

Visual perception is when the brain makes sense of what the eyes see. 

It is an important pre-reading skill and children must develop their letter recognition through play first – by being exposed to lines, patterns and shapes, which they will later see in letters.

Hand-Eye Coordination

Stringing beads is good practice for building hand-eye coordination, an important aspect of physical development. 

Want your child to excel at sports one day? Spend lots of time doing movement activities, but also lots of time doing intricate activities such as playing with pegboards, to let the eyes and hands work together.

Early Maths Skills

Playing with toys such as blocks and beads teaches children about the concept of number and amount, as well as one-to-one correspondence.

You can also introduce patterning activities to preschoolers which is an important early maths concept.

Concentration and Perseverance

Fine motor activities usually require a child to sit for lengthy periods of time, which in turn builds their attention span.

The act of trying something as intricate as threading a string through a tiny hole will teach a child not only how to sit still and focus, but also how to persevere and try again if he fails.


Children develop creativity when they are left to play independently, to come up with ideas and to solve problems for themselves.

It is ok to do a fun activity with your child, but don’t forget to leave some materials ‘lying around’ and see what your child does with them.

You will often be amazed at the result.


When children are engaging in play, they are learning the vocabulary around what they are doing.

When your child is threading, be sure to tell them what they are doing. 

  • Shall we thread a necklace?
  • Can you repeat the pattern?
  • What colour beads do you have?
  • Are you stringing beads onto that pipe cleaner?
  • Are the holes too narrow?

Would you like a year of done-for-you, ten-minute activities to teach your 3-5-year-old through play? Get your copy of the Learning Through Play Activity Pack for only $27.

Activity Pack for preschoolers

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