The tongs (training chopsticks actually, I think), beads, & tray we are using were a post-fire gift from our friend Colleen at Sunrise Learning Lab. These are also items that are easy to pick up at thrift stores, discount stores, and craft stores clearanced out at the end of a season. The seashell is a bath slip gripper thingy (I'm sure that's the technical term). The suction cups on the back provide the perfect spot to place each bead while keeping them from rolling around. You can also use a bath mat cut into an interesting, relevant, or seasonal shape. Cotton balls and mini pom-poms make great tweezing practice as well. For some kids, they are easier to start with than beads- which roll around a little more on their own.
All of the Montessori practical life transferring activities help develop muscle control and strength in the hands, but tweezing in particular really helps build up those pencil-holding muscles in the fingers. Another pre-learning trick about Montessori activities is to always set up the activity to move from left to right. You wouldn't likely do this activity ONLY to develop a sense of left to right movement, but these intentional, indirect aims are a large reason why the Montessori method is so successful.
Expect to see even more sensorial and practical life activities in the coming weeks. Kylee has entered an intense period of interest in this type of work and as long as she is working I might as well share!
This post is linked to: Montessori Monday at Living Montessori Now