Editor's note: This is the first installment of a new online column, "Wonder Years," by artist and certified teacher Laura Elson of Westerly. The second Monday of each month, Elson will walk parents step-by-step through a seasonal activity. Though these activities are designed to help parents foster thinking and motor skills in young, preschool-aged children, older kids will like them too.
Sea Shell Wind Chime
Creating a sea shell wind chime with your child provides the opportunity to spend time together combing the beach and offers the chance to enjoy the music you made together for years to come.
Collection pail or bag
Wire or string
Beads (be mindful of size if your child puts things in his/her mouth)
Mismatched silverware at least 1 fork and 5 spoons or fork
This activity is designed to take several days to complete.
Caregiver and Child Activity:
1. Plan an outing with your child to the beach to collect shells for your wind chime. As you collect the shells discuss the color, shape, size, and texture.
2. Wash your shells. This is a good time to compare your shells, sort them based on characteristics, and count them.
Adults only take care of this part:
1. Using the small nail hammer a hole in each shell.
2. Place the pliers half way down the handle on each piece of silverware and bend the handle in half. Repeat with each piece of silverware.
3. Using pliers twist the prongs of the fork in opposite directions and curl the prong into a loop.
4. Cut 5 lengths of string or wire to your desired length of your wind chime.
5. Tie a wire or string to each piece of bended silverware.
Caregiver and child activity:
1. Place the beads and shells on a tray for easy viewing. You can encourage your child to sort the shells and beads by color, size, and shape by talking about the differences you notice in each piece
2. Help your child add beads and shells to each piece wire or string. This will help strengthen fine motor skills that are essential for future writing.
3. Tie one of the beaded wires to each fork prong.
4. Together find a special place to hang your wind chime. Once you hang your wind chime sit together with your child to listen to the wind chime. Talk about your observations of the wind chimes loudness or softness depending on the winds strength. Continue to discuss these observations daily as you walk past your wind chimes.
Laura Elson has more than 12 years experience in early education and holds a degree in studio arts. Believing that every interaction is a learning opportunity inspired her to start her own home-based program. She runs a licensed preschool alternative and daycare, and gives private art lessons. When not working, she can be found creating in her studio, baking with her two young children or working in her garden.