NAME THE COLOR Direct the child's attention to the circles of color on the bead maze's wooden base. Point to each of the circles individually, saying the name of each color aloud. Encourage the child to name the colors with you. Ask the child to point to the circles and name each color. When the child can easily identify all six colors, ask the child to point to and name the color of individual beads. Ask the child to slide his/her finger along a pathway and name the pathway's color. Encourage the child to continue pointing to and naming colorful parts of the bead maze.
COUNTING ACTIVITY: Arrange the beads into three stacks of six, with one stack at the end of each pathway. Select a stack of beads and use them to guide the child through counting activities, pointing at each bead counted. Guide the child in counting "groups" of beads. For example, if orange and blue beads were selected you might ask the child to count only orange beads (3), and to count only blue beads (3). You might ask the child to count the number of circles on the wooden base (6), or the total number of cube-shaped blocks (6), or the number of beads on the yellow pathway (6). To increase the challenge, you might ask the child to count the total number of beads on two pathways (12), and the total number of beads on all three pathways (18). Assist the child as needed.
BEAD RACE (1 to 3 players): Arrange the beads into three stacks of six, with one stack at the end of each pathway. Each player selects one stack of beads. (When three people play, the blue pathway's beads should be stacked across the wooden base from the red and yellow pathways' beads. When two people play, stack the players' beads on opposite sides of the wooden base, regardless which pathways are selected.) On the count of "three", players slide one bead at a time toward the opposite end of each pathway. When a player's bead comes to a complete stop at the opposite end of its pathway, the player may begin to slide another
FOLLOWING DIRECTIONS: Distribute the beads randomly around the bead maze. Use verbal instructions to guide the child in sliding beads in a variety of directions around the bead maze. For example, you might say, "Please slide one bead upward." If the child follows your directions correctly, you might wish to add extra steps to the instructions. For example, you might say, "Please slide one bead upward, then around a circular path." Or you might say, "Please slide one bead up, then over a bump, then under a red pathway." Continue guiding the child verbally using terms like up, down, over, under, around, back and forth.
PATTERN PREDICTION: Select a pathway. Ask the child to face away from the bead maze, while you stack four beads at one end and two beads at the other end. Conceal the stack of two beads behind one hand. Ask the child to face the bead maze and examine the stack of four beads, identifying the colors used in the pattern from the bottom up. For example, if the child selected the blue pathway and stacked four beads on the purple circle, the color pattern would be "yellow, purple, yellow, purple." When the child can easily identify the colors in the stacked pattern, ask the child to predict what the next color in the pattern should be. For example, you might say, "If the color pattern is yellow, purple, yellow, purple, what color should come after purple?" When the child correctly predicts the next color in the pattern, release the matching bead from behind your hand while keeping the other bead concealed. Repeat this activity with the other two pathways of beads.
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