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Using Tweezers to Sort Pony Beads

Sweet Pea is 47 months old.

From: This is another activity suggested in John Bowman’s new book Montessori at Home (I am giving away a copy here.)


  • Tweezers (I used rounded-tip beading tweezers).
  • A bowl of pony beads in 4 different colors
  • 4 Small bowls.


  • Sit near your tot and say, “I am going to use these tweezers to sort the beads.”
  • Pick up the tweezers and demonstrate holding them between your thumb and forefinger.
  • Slowly open and close the tweezers a few times so your tot can observe how they work.
  • Using the tweezers, pick up a pony bead from the large bowl and then drop it into one of the small bowls.
  • Pick up a bead of another color and drop into a different bowl.
  • Continue sorting the beads by color until there is 1 or 2 beads in each small bowl.
  • Help your tot hold the tweezers correctly.
  • Allow your tot to sort the rest of the beads.

  • When all of the beads are sorted, extend the activity by inviting your tot to use the tweezers to move all of the beads back into the large bowl.

Observations: I was so surprised by how much Sweet Pea loved this simple activity.  I put it together quickly and did not anticipate her spending much time on it.  But boy, was I wrong.   She did the entire activity twice in-a-row when I showed it to her.  Usually she will only do something once before moving to something else.

Another thing that surprised me was how she sorted the beads.  Sweet Pea picked all of one color out of the large bowl and filled 1 small bowl  completely with them, before she moved on to the next color.  I had expected her to randomly pick up beads from the big bowl, but she selected all of the blue ones first, then the purple, then orange and then yellow.

At first, Sweet Pea found it easier to just put the pony bead on the tweezers with her other hand, although as she got used to the tweezers she did this much less often.  🙂

Sweet Pea has chosen to work on this activity almost every day since I first introduced her to it.  She absolutely loved it.

We have done other sorting activities in the past that didn’t go as well. I think the added challenge of using the tweezers was critical to this one’s success, otherwise Sweet Pea would not have been as engaged.   I think it is important (and difficult) to find activities that are appropriately challenging for your tot.   This was a huge hit for us and I would recommend it for older tots with good fine motor control.  If the tweezers are too difficult for your tot, you could try allowing them to move the beads with their fingers.  An younger tot would probably just enjoy using a spoon to transfer the beads from one container to another.

Notes from the Trenches: The hardest part of this activity was getting Sweet Pea to hold the tweezers correctly.  I had to demonstrate the correct grip more than once, but as soon as she figured that out, she didn’t need any more help.

The beads could be a choking hazard.  The tweezers could poke an eye, etc.   Supervise your tot accordingly.

Rating: 4 Stars * (Fun, Easy, Independent, Frugal)



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