Help the child string all the beads on the lace in order, beginning with the engine and letter A and finishing with Z. Sing the Alphabet Song together, touching each letter bead with a finger as you sing its name.
Ask the child to sort the animals by color. Help the child think of other ways to sort and group the beads, (such as land animals/sea animals or vowels/consonants).
Ask the child to look for all the letters in his or her name. Look for the letters in other familiar words.
Create your own spelling cards for the child to copy with the beads. (Be sure each word has only one of each letter.)
String two or three letter beads on the lace to make a common sound (such as "AT" or "EN"). Then help the child add a starting letter to make a complete word (such as "CAT" or "PEN"). Sound out the word together, then replace one or more letters to change the word.
Place all the beads upside-down so the pictures are hidden, and string the engine on the lace. Then take turns choosing a bead, revealing the picture, and using that animal to add to a story about a crazy train trip.
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