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Suitable for children: 
Skills this activity improves: 
Toddler playing with a toy

You can thread nearly anything that has a hole in it. A hole punch is great for making holes, even in leaves. Cut a length of string, thin plastic tubing or wool. Tie something on one end so the pieces don't fall off. Try threading pasta shapes, cut-up straws, beads, leaves, shells or pieces of fabric.

Can you put this shell on the string? Can you turn it around so it fits?

The threadings can become necklaces or decorations to hang in trees or windows.

Materials you will need

  • Straws
  • String
  • Shells
  • Plastic tubing
  • Wool
  • Pasta shapes
  • Beads
  • Leaves

Alternative tools

  • Paper
  • Cardboard
  • Bottle tops
  • Curtain rings

Why does this matter?

This activity helps children as they develop eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills. They are strengthening the muscles in their hands which will help them with drawing and writing. When children create or copy patterns they are learning about classification, and developing skills in noticing details. Talking to your child while working together helps them to build their vocabulary.

What does this lead to?

Eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills are very important for writing and drawing. Patterning and sorting will lead to skills in classifying and in noticing details which are important numeracy skills. A wide vocabulary helps with reading and expressing yourself.

Language to use

  • Threading, next one, match, sort, pattern, colours, shapes
  • First, next, last
  • Stiff, shiny, slippery
  • Big, small
  • One, two, three, four, few, many, more
  • Thread, bead, string, button, straw, leaf, shell

Questions to use

  • Can you put this bead on the string?
  • Which one will you thread next?
  • How many beads are there?
  • Can you fit any more on the string?

Useful tips

  1. Your child could collect items from the garden to use, such as leaves and flowers.
  2. For safety information see Safety for 0-4 year olds or visit www.parenting.sa.gov.au
  3. Remember to talk to your child in your home language.

Variation by age

Birth to two year olds

  • Younger children can begin threading with larger objects like cut-up swimming pool noodles or cardboard tubes. These can be threaded onto a rope, hose or even a broom handle.

Three to five year olds

  • Work together to try out different types of patterned threadings. You can make them simple or tricky:
    • red, blue, red, blue
    • two red, one blue, two red, one blue
    • pink, green, blue, pink, green, blue
    • flower, shell, leaf, flower, shell, leaf
  • You could draw some patterns for your child to follow.
  • Go looking for patterns around your home and neighbourhood.
  • Make patterns with other materials like socks, cups, pegs, gumnuts or shells.