Wednesday, March 25, 2009


My art class with Leah is finished for now but I had promised my niece that I would post one more article about the class. There was one activity that I thought was the most age appropriate. STRINGING MACARONI NECKLACES. This requires some prep work before the child can get started but it is an activity that a young child can do with very little supervision. Stringing beads helps to develop fine motor skills and eye hand coordination, both of which are essential pre-reading and writing skills.

Step One: Preparing the Macaroni

You will need to purchase some macaroni. You need to select pasta that has a hole like penne. Try to avoid the kind that has too many bends like elbow macaroni. There are so many shapes out there so be creative. Secondly, you need to have rubbing alcohol, food coloring and some large empty plastic containers. I used a large yogurt container.
Pour a half of cup of the alcohol in the container. Squirt in a generous amount of food coloring. I used red. Did you know that food coloring now comes in neon colors? Add approximately 2 cups of pasta. Cover and set aside. I let mine sit for about a week because I was too busy to check on it but overnight is probably long enough. Drain off the alcohol and spread the macaroni out on newspaper or paper towels to dry. They will look lighter in color and the pasta will be soft. Don't worry! The color darkens as it dries and the pasta gets hard again when dry.

Step Two: Beading

You will need some string for the necklaces. Shoelaces work great! You can use cotton crochet thread or yarn but you will need to tape around the end to make it easier for the string to push through the pasta.

Remember that plastic tray I suggested that you use for finger painting. Well, it would be great for this project too. Spread the different colors of pasta out on the tray or a cookie sheet. Show the child how to put the pasta onto the string and then watch. Once the child masters the stringing part, you could start suggesting different ways to string the "beads". Here's one suggestion. String a pattern like "two red, one blue, two red" or "one round shape, one tubular shape, one long shape." Lay it in front of the child and ask him or her to copy your pattern. This is a pre-math skill called sequencing.

When it is time to clean up, have the child sort the different colors into containers. Sorting is a great skill. This promotes color recognition and naming.

Have fun!

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