It’s About More Than Beading …

We have a group of students this year that love Perler Beads. These incredibly tiny beads stress me out. They fall down everywhere. We even tried Kristi Keery-Bishop‘s suggestion of laying a towel on the table to catch them, but the little bowls of beads still managed to get knocked over and create a giant mess on the floor.

The students are great at sweeping up the beads though, and even though I still manage to find small groups of beads here or there in the classroom, beading usually¬†becomes a daily occurrence.¬†Why?¬†Because the students take them out. They get them when they need them. Usually in the afternoon, a group of children start to clean off a table that’s not being used, grab the container of beads from the top of the drying rack, find some bowls to pour them into, and create their beading area. While these miniature beads stress me out, they help a group of our students self-regulate.

On Friday afternoon, two Kindergarten students actually discussed this very topic as they were beading.

Wonderful things really do happen thanks to Perler Beads.

Beading is about so much more than beading. #teachersofinstagram #iteachk #ctinquiry #art

A photo posted by Aviva (@avivaloca) on

I wonder if regularly trying to capture these positive beading moments is one of my self-regulation strategies. They act as good reminders for me about the value in having these beads out for children and the value in allowing children to choose what works for them. On Friday though, I saw a different positive moment that comes from beading.

As children bead, they often talk. Sometimes they talk about their bead work, sometimes they talk about topics of interest, and sometimes their talk surprises you. This is what happened on Friday. I overheard some students playing with silly rhymes at the beading table as I recorded another learning moment in the classroom. My attention then turned back to this beading table.

After she finished her row of beads, she found me a piece of paper and a pencil. That led to this …

Another child at the table started to sing her own alphabet rhyming song, so that inspired some different writing.

That writing led to some reading and singing.

Another child was inspired to write her own rhymes too, so she grabbed a piece of paper and started this.

I can’t help but wonder if the calmness of beading allowed for this other learning to happen. Beading is also a relatively quiet activity, and with a little additional quiet, we’re sometimes more apt to hear something that we might miss¬†otherwise. I’m glad that I didn’t miss this teachable moment …¬†one that we plan on extending this week with a connection to Dr. Seuss and Lorax Land.

As I think more about beading, I can’t help but wonder about the number of times in my teaching career that I would have avoided something that causes me so much stress. It would be easy to stop beading:¬†to put the container away or let the bead collection run out and not purchase any more.¬†But then I look at the thinking, learning, and sharing that’s happening thanks to this beading, and I’m reminded that sometimes we have to let some things go no matter how difficult that may be.¬†What are some things that cause you stress but help your students (or some of your students) self-regulate? How do you balance these different needs in the classroom (or at home), and what’s the value in doing so?¬†As another week begins, I’m reminded to keep my eyes off the mess and on the learning.¬†Bring on the beads!


4 thoughts on “It’s About More Than Beading …

  1. I brought in a bunch of fidget tools for my students. I worry a lot about them being thrown around the room, especially given the number of needs/behaviours in the room. Today I made a concerted effort to refer to them as fidget tools, not toys, and to set the expectations early and follow up with consequences for their misuse. I worried often, until I saw one boy, sitting at his desk, squeezing and unsqueezing the ball in one hand, and brainstorming ideas pencil in the other hand. Until that point, he had been unfocused and a little “energetic,” but he was finally calm and productive and I realized that the risk was worth it. It is worth noting that only one student needed to have his tool taken away because he was tossing it to himself and distracting others with it. 1 out of about 8 or 10. Pretty darn good. I can live with those odds. It was noticeably helpful for about 5 or 6 of them.

    • Thanks for your comment, Melanie! As much as I’ve heard about the benefits of fidget tools/toys, I’ve yet to see students have success with them. Your comment gives me hope. Maybe it’s helping the child find the right fidget tool/toy that he/she needs, and possibly even supporting the child in using this tool until he/she can do so independently. As with everything else, fidget tools/toys are probably not for everyone, but your comment makes me realize that they could be a great option for some. Thank you!


      • Yes. There are lots of kids for whom fidget tools just don’t work. Several of my students have mental health issues, especially related to anxiety, so the fidget tools help them to stay calm. There are a few for whom the tools aren’t working so they will not have access to the tools any more because they are just a distraction. It’s a daily process of monitoring and supporting to ensure that they are serving their desired need. I also think that it needs to be used at the right time. Some activities match the tool better than others. I learn a little more every day about this.

        • Thanks for sharing your learning here, Melanie! When fidget tools are a distraction, I wonder if the students for whom this is true, notice this too. Can they select another option that works better for them? I find it interesting, as fidget tools/toys are so often recommended for students, but there only seems to be some kids that truly benefit from them. Or is it just a case of not finding the right tool, at the right time, for that student? Thanks for giving me more to think about!


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