You start with a variety of beans. I like the larger ones since my little guy is only two and can handle these easier.Then I used some sentence strips that I purchased at the dollar store. I just turned them over and used the back. I put dabs of tacky glue across the middle. Then inserted the beans in a pattern across it. I also painted the glue over the beans to make them more secure.With some of the strips, I made the pattern simple. And I also drew (in pencil) where the child is to place the next few beans to make the pattern. The pencil can be erased once the child gets better at this.And for some of the strips, I just used a more complicated pattern. The child can continue the pattern off of the strip or (for a younger child) they can simply copy the pattern below each bean.
Another activity our group is doing is making "I Spy" bottles. Now, I'm not sure who was assigned this, I just know it wasn't me. But I decided to try one out for myself. I took these mini erasers and tiny toys and placed them in the bottle with the little white beans.
You could use any type of sturdy bottle with the label taken off. I used the medium gatoraide bottles. We have had a lot of those around here lately (I guess there's one positive thing about how sick we've been this summer). They work well because the opening is bigger than that of the water bottles. I LOVE the tiny erasers for this! I'm going to search for more the next time I go shopping.This occupied Evan for a while! And it encouraged him to talk about what was inside. He was naming the items. And I would reinforce it by saying the color of the item mentioned. I'm sure you could take this further, too. You could count the items, or ask the child to find a certain thing. You could make them with sand or rice instead of beans. Or they would be nice with themes, too, like Advent or Christmas, or animals, or cars, etc. I'm going to keep my eye out for things to go in these now. I bet the Dollar Store has the mini erasers in different themes. Another plus to this activity is that it is inexpensive to make. And I wanted to mention that I am going to use a hot glue gun to seal mine because Evan did mention "open" a couple of times. So he eventually might learn how to open them and we don't want that now do we?
If you give either of these a try, please let me know how they worked for you!