Sunday, September 21, 2008

Developmental Benefits of Beading for Children

by Kimberly Voaden, OT Reg. (Ont.)

As an Occupational Therapist with over 5 years experience working with children of all ages, I can endorse beading as an excellent leisure activity, promoting childrens' 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 your thumb and finger, involves translation, shift and rotation movements of the bead within the hand.

Visual Perceptual Skills:

Visual discrimination, Scanning, visual memory: The child must be able to remember the beading pattern to determine the bead they want to use. Once they know what bead they want, visual discrimination assists them in selecting the bead that fits their mental image of the desired bead. Finally, the child must scan across many different beads before finding the desired bead.

Visual Motor Skills:

Hand-eye 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 pattern will they choose? Where are all the 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.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Important tools/pliers for the beginning jewelry designer

Chain nose pliers are very useful in many different aspects of beading. Such as opening and closing jump rings to wire wrapping.

Flat nose pliers have broad jaws which are useful for flattening wire and putting sharp angles in wire work. They can also be used to flatten crimp beads.

Side cutters are required for cutting wire and other beading material. The sharp tips/ends allow for access to even the smallest of bead work and snip away any unwanted bits.

Round nose pliers are great for looping or wire wrapping due to their rounded ends. The tips/ends are a smaller width which allows for smaller loops. As you work your way down the round nose pliers you can make bigger loops as the rounded width expands.

Bent nose pliers are useful for finalizing any loops or wire work due to their angled tips/end which allows access to hard to reach places in your bead work.

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