One of the earliest Christmas presents for most babies is a sectioned toy in which the separate pieces are ‘threaded’ on a central stick. ‘Tunnel blocks’ are flat blocks of wood which are pushed successively through a wooden holder. Some baby threadingconsist of a base with holes large enough to take a thick wooden ‘needle’ and strong cord. The next stage is probably a set of cotton reels and a thick lace made stiff at the end by wrapping it round with Sellotape or brown sticky paper strip.
Later versions of these earlyuse the same principles with smaller and more varied material. Sets of shaped wooden beads in varying sizes, shapes and colours provide for sorting and for completing patterns started by an adult in addition to the motor coordination factor. There are some excellent sets of these to buy and they are very popular in nursery groups. Boards made from peg-board bound with tape at the edges to neaten them and used with the largest possible bodkin and nylon cord make good threading boards. The next stage might be a stiff card punched with holes showing a simple geometrical pattern to follow. Those which often appear as stocking-fillers at Christmas may have designs which do not allow for regular ‘stitches’ and are too complicated for the age of children who will do this. A nine-year-old who could manage these designs could do something better with his time and energy. A slightly different game is a threading board with metal eyelet screws through which a cord may be threaded. Proper sewing on coarse canvas might be possible for a few five-year-olds.