Concentration, perseverance, and "crab pincher fingers" will reward you with a beautiful product...just to be turned over for the next person to work on the same shape. We are using the photos to remember what we made and how hard we worked.
We played the game Perfection a few weeks ago - it doesn't have all of the pieces, but it is a challenge for four year olds to get all of those shapes in, anyhow. The children took turns racing against time for get all of those shapes into the right place, and when the timer finished and their friends were cheering them on and then all of the pieces go flying into the air...those are the moments when we learn about perseverance. No one was sad when their turn was over, they simply watched the next child and waited their turn to try again.
This activity with the beads reminds me a bit of Perfection. It took a minimum of 15 minutes to get all of the beads on, and for the younger children, it took much longer. Some children chose to stay until the shape was all covered, and others noticed the challenge right from the start with the first bead and went to choose something else to do. Some children helped each other; others wanted a teacher to do "just one row". One girl spent 25 minutes covering a heart, just to hold it up to show me and have all of the little beads come tumbling off.
This was a fine motor activity on the surface, but it was also about sticking with it. And we don't have to do it alone in preschool - there are so many ways to get help - and a few children called on those resources as they worked towards the end goal of covering their shape. When I was little, we did these in Girl Scouts, and we put an iron over the beads at the end to melt them together and then take them home. I thought about that with these children, but the idea of a process was jumping out at me for some reason. The product would be beautiful, but the process is even more rewarding.