Makena picking beads.jpg

Developmental Benefits of Beading for Children and Seniors

by Kimberly Voaden, OT Reg. (Ont.)

Beading is seen "as an excellent leisure activity, promoting children's development in the following areas:

Fine Motor Skills

Grasping: Various sizes of beads promote different grasps. Larger beads often promote the "3-jaw chuck" grasp, similar to holding a large pencil or marker. Smaller beads encourage children to use their pincer grasp, thus strengthening the small muscles of their hands.


In-hand manipulation skills: Many components of making a beaded craft increase strength and coordination in the small hand and finger muscles.  For example, picking a bead up from the beading tray, and then manipulating it in one's hand until it is pinched between hour thumb and finger, involves translation, shift and rotation movements of the bead within the hand.


Visual Motor Skills


Eye-hand coordination: Threading beads onto a string involves bilateral coordination of the child's hands and requires their eyes and hands to work together.


Cognitive Skills


Planning: What style of necklace does the child want to make?  What patterns will they choose?  Where are all the materials needed to complete this beading activity?  By answering these questions, the child develops his/her planning and problem -solving skills.


Math Skills:  How long will my necklace, bracelet, or keychain need to be?  How many beads do I need to complete this project?  How can I create and maintain this beading pattern?  Encouraging children to think through these functional math problems is a motivating way to improve academic skills in this area.


Social Skills


Beading parties promote sharing an cooperation, as children choose beads and complete their projects in a group setting.


Overall developmental benefits of beading:


* Improved fine motor, visual perceptual, visual motor and cognitive skills

* Improved dressing skills (especially clothing fasteners, like buttons and zippers)

* Improved pencil grasp and pencil control during coloring and writing activities

* Improved visual perception and better planning often help a child to become more organized (e.g. Where is my sock?  where did I put my pencil

   or favorite toy?  Do I have everything I need to complete my homework?)

* And last but not least, beading can provide a sense of accomplishment in completing a project that offers freedom of self-expression and

   camaraderie with other party-goers. This sense of "Occupational Fulfillment" can contribute to improved self-esteem.


In other words, beading is just plain FUN, and FUN is good for kids!"