I am a few weeks into preschool now, and I have a great handle on who my students are, what they like to play with and what skills they are developing. As preschool teachers, we are always assessing, not with tests, just by watching our students play. When my students play outside, they love to play with the tiny pea gravel in our playground, and I decided to make an activity that could replicate that fine motor work, add in a little sorting, and make an awesome sound too!
I made this bead drop activity with mini mason jars and while it’s fun to use, what would make it even better is using these jars with flip top lids. You can find them here with my affiliate link –> jars with flip top lids
OK ready to see how I made the bead drop tray?
It’s so easy!
Gather your materials. You will need some mini mason jars, pony beads, a screwdriver and hammer IF you are making a hole but I really really suggest using the flip top lids instead ( I just ordered some, I didn’t know they even existed)! Oh, and you’ll need a tray too.
Start by making a hole with the screwdriver and hammer, if you do this be sure to flip the lid over and carefully pound the sharp edges into the underside of the lid so little fingers are safe from getting cut. See why the flip lid is such a good idea? Need that affiliate link now? Click here.
Next, sort out three colors ( or as many colors as you have jars) and pop them in the jars. You don’t have to divide the colors but it adds an element of color sorting to the activity and preschoolers naturally sort to make sense of things. I say go for it!
Scatter some on the tray, adjust the number of beads based on the abilities of your students. Sometimes children feel like they need to complete the activity if this is the case only scatter a few. We want this to be fun not a chore.
Pop those beads in! If you are with your students when they are engaged feel free to work in some new vocabulary by saying something like “Oh Jillian did you hear the sound the bead makes when it drops?” “I wonder how many beads are in there, should make an estimate Jillian?” If they are not interested in talking while working give them space, you can always talk about it later.
Need more fine motor ideas?
Check out our archive of fine motor activities here.