You can get A LOT of mileage out of beads in the early childhood classroom! Children can sort them, string them on yarn or chenille stems, count them, create bead patterns, and MORE. Here’s your chance to create an adorable keepsake with your students by melting plastic beads. You’re going to love the results of this easy pumpkin craft, and it might even inspire you to try out other melted bead art!
Melting Beads in the Oven to Make Suncatchers:
MELTING BEADS with preschoolers
WHILE CREATING THIS FESTIVE KEEPSAKE, YOUR STUDENTS WILL ALSO EXPERIENCE SCIENCE IN ACTION AND LEARN NEW VOCABULARY!
Learning how to melt Perler beads/pony beads gives young learners valuable experiences with listening, following step-by-step directions, questioning, predicting, and analyzing the final result/product.
I love this project because it covers so much ground, from creativity and color choices to new scientific vocabulary.
The melted pumpkin ornaments fit well in any fall or back-to-school theme. Hang them in a sunny window throughout the theme, then send them home for families to enjoy forever!
In addition to celebrating the fall harvest with suncatchers, you might also delve into deeper questions:
- What is the life cycle of a pumpkin?
- What do pumpkins need to grow?
- Are pumpkins good to eat?
- What will you find inside a pumpkin?
What Can Preschoolers Learn from Melting Pony Beads in the Oven?
MELTING PONY BEADS TO MAKE SUNCATCHERS
ALTHOUGH KIDS WILL FOCUS ON A FINISHED PRODUCT TO PROUDLY DISPLAY IN THE WINDOW, THE PROCESS OF MELTING PONY BEADS IS A GREAT LEARNING OPPORTUNITY.
Here are some scientific questions to get kids thinking:
- Why/how do the beads melt?
- Does everything melt in the oven?
- Does a higher/lower oven temperature change the melting time?
- Do the beads change color after they melt?
SCIENCE OF MELTING TO HELP KIDS UNDERSTAND
New Vocabulary: polymer, molecule, amorphous, crystalline, solid, liquid
Plastic is a polymer (a long chain of molecules). Heat causes the polymers to expand and move around, eventually melting when they get hot enough.
The first type of polymer to melt is called amorphous. Think of this type as a big jumbled mess. As the plastic gets hotter, the orderly crystalline polymers also begin to melt.
As the polymers melt, the beads turn from a solid to a liquid. As they cool, they go back to a solid.
Why is it Important for Kids to Craft?
Besides the fact that kids love arts and crafts projects, there are so many other reasons you should do art and craft activities with your child.
Materials needed for the Pumpkin Melted Plastic Bead Suncatcher:
- Plastic pony beads (shades of orange, green)
- Metal cookie or clay cutters (shaped like pumpkins or another fall object)
- Baking pan
- Aluminum foil
- Drill fitted with ⅛ inch drill bit, optional
How To Create the Pumpkin Melting Beads Craft
MELTING BEADS IN THE OVEN with preschoolers
PLEASE NOTE THE MELTY BEADS DO CREATE FUMES WHILE MELTING. AVOID UNPLEASANT SMELLS BY MELTING IN A TOASTER OVEN OUTDOORS.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Line baking pan with aluminum foil to protect the pan and make it easier for the pumpkins to release from the pan.
Place cookie cutters on aluminum foil in baking pan. Fill each shape with a single layer of beads. Use a toothpick or bamboo skewer to arrange the beads.
Carefully put the baking sheet in the oven and melt the beads in the cookie cutter. The time can vary based on the type of bead. Begin checking at 5 minutes. (My pumpkins took 15 minutes to melt.) The melted pony bead craft is ready when the beads are melted and the hole in each bead has disappeared.
Remove from oven and allow to cool completely prior to removing from the cookie cutters. To remove the ornaments, gently pull the sides of the cookie cutter away from the ornament.
If desired, drill a hole in each ornament for hanging.
*All beads are NOT created equally. There are many different types of melting beads for kid crafts, including hama beads, glass beads, and Perler bead patterns,
I used pony beads for this fall craft. Feel free to experiment with other types of beads for melting and/or fusing.
More Pumpkin Activities with Beads:
Paper Pumpkin Craft
Use orange construction paper to cut pumpkin shapes. Then, create faces with black beads and glue.
Make small 3D pumpkins with chenille stems and orange beads. Students can string the beads and an adult can help assemble them into a pumpkin shape with a green chenille stem.
Place beads into a muffin tin for melting instead of a cookie-cutter shape. Then, string small circles together to create fall-inspired suncatchers.
Find even more engaging activities in the Life Over C’s shop!