I've seen many variations on this activity, including lacing tiny beads into bracelets and lacing big wooden beads onto shoe strings, as in the Melissa and Doug version.
This is an activity that requires and encourages a great deal of fine motor skills. Tobias at 16 months old is able to string 1-2 beads independently and watches me intently as I do it and with me holding the string he can do more beads halfway independently. I wouldn't suggest trying this under 15 months old unless your child is already scribbling with a crayon and using a fork and spoon with some success. This activity can be great for 15 month olds to 3 year olds.
- As many bottle caps as you can find (a slight addiction to soda could be a good thing here)
- Half a shoelace with a big knot in the loose end
- drill with large drill bit
- drill holes in the center of the bottle caps
Demonstrate to your child how to lace the bottle caps onto the shoelace. Do it slowly and holding it up in front of them. Talk about the colors of the bottle caps as you lace them and then hand one to your child if he hasn't already picked them up and encourage him to put it on the shoelace as you hold the shoelace up. Once your child shows interest in doing it, step back gradually and let them take it on independently.
With an older child (ages 2+) you can make a pattern (red, green, red, green) on your own shoelace and ask them to copy the pattern.
* ignore the goofy face, that's just Tobias' brilliant look of concentration, or maybe the flash was just in his eyes :)