In one of my trips through the dollar store, in search of cheap, light weight “toys” to keep my toddler busy on planes, I came up with this version of stringing beads.
I bought a couple packages of sponge curlers (the kind some of us slept in when we were little). They came in black and pink in our dollar store. I took them home and sliced some in thirds, some in half, and kept others the full length. I keep them in a small wipee box with some pipe cleaners. The sponges are perfect to string on the pipe cleaners. I think it’s a little easier for them use the pipe cleaners than regular string, making this activity possible at a younger age. Wealso make jewelry with them or link them together to create a chain (thought J needs a lot of help with that).
This makes a good plane/travel activity because it keeps them occupied for awhile, it reuses the same materials from other plane activities (so you have to pack less), and it’s lightweight. The disadvantage is that the sponges can be decidedly fun to throw around on the plane (but at least they don’t hurt if they hit you and they’re cheap, so it’s not terrible if some are lost). This works well for J now at 23 months; our first experience with this plane activity (at 14 months) didn’t go as well.
Age attempted: 14 months (too young for on the plane), better by 18 months and good at it by 23 months
Teachable Moments: We’ve worked on the meaning of push and pull with this. You can make patterns with the different colors, practice counting by assigning a different number of sponge beads for each pipe cleaner
Try Again? This is usually an activity I either bring on the plane or have in the hotel; it is saved for those events to keep it’s novelty but still gets used fairly often