One of my favorite stores to roam through alone (without child!) is Tuesday Morning. It’s one of those places where I find the most unusual or unexpected items when I’m not looking for them. It was on one of my shop expeditions there when I found a great craft buy: packages of wood spools and beads for under $4! I bought two different shapes for variety, and later picked up a package of large blue shoelaces at Target. This became the inspiration for this craft activity, painting wood spools and beads to use for stringing.
You can find chunky wood beads and spools at craft stores or on Etsy.com under supplies, if you are unable to find them in the craft bin at your local Tuesday Morning store!
wood beads, spools, etc, with pre-drilled holes
washable acrylic paint
paint brushes, glass of water for washing brushes, paint palette (plate)
cookie sheet or tray covered in paper
smock or paint clothes
1. Cover your work surface to protect it from wayward brushes. Cover your child with a smock or old clothes. Using a cookie sheet with edges or a tray makes clean up easy for this project, as once all of the painting is done, the tray can be moved out of the way until the wood pieces are dry.
2. Explain to your kids that they will be painting wood beads and spools and will use them to make necklaces or stringing them for decorations later.
3. Set out paints on a plate or palette, add brushes and a cup of water, and lay out the wood shapes. Let your kids decorate them away and have fun getting messy. It really is important to use washable paint! Paint some along with them!
4. Let the pieces dry for a few hours or overnight. If you want, you can spray a coat of clear acrylic on all of the pieces before giving them back to your kids, but this is not necessary. (I meant to do it, but didn’t get a chance before my son started playing with them.)
5. Once dry, give your kids the wood spools and beads, along with long shoelaces that have a knot on one end and let them string away. My son had so much fun with this that he has asked to do it again with the leftover beads. (We initially painted two packs of 15 wooden shapes each.) This is a great activity to help little kids develop hand-eye coordination and color recognition. Use a recloseable container, such as a recycled plastic jar or a zipper baggie, for storage. I also think this would be a fun birthday gift for a kid that loves crafting…put all the supplies into a cute container with directions!
You can find more crafts and other adventures with a preschooler on Diane’s blog Knitting Zeal.