I read lots of Montessori material even though my son goes to a "traditional" school. I like many aspects of the Montessori methods, especially their Practical Life units.
Many of the blogs I read show sorting beads with tongs or chopsticks into shapes with suction cups on the back. The shapes were kind of expensive so I have looked high and low for a different solution. This week, while shopping in a big box store, I found some of those shapes! They were with the tub/sink stoppers and they are bath tub treads. I purchased blue fish and yellow duck shapes. Each package comes with 5 shapes in it.
When I got home I set it all up. I put smiley face beads that we already owned in a small dish and set them with one of each shape and our kid friendly chopsticks on the table. At first my son had no interest in the activity but finally he gave in. We practiced using the chopsticks and will continue to practice but he was able to move some of the beads to the suction cup shapes. This is not an easy activity with the chopsticks so I am now looking for a better tool to use. We eventually went to using his fingers which still worked his pincer grasp. We also worked on only doing one color at a time. I would call the color and he would pick up that color one at a time until they were all used then we moved on to another color.
This is by no means an activity for the really little ones and even my son had to be watched closely at 3.5 years of age. The beads are a swallow hazard and it is better safe than sorry.