Ta-da! I should mention that I was inspired to make this toy after seeing a photo of one on a post from Desert Shadows Montessori Toddler's blog many months ago.
I didn't take many photos, but here's bit of a run-down on the process. After a little practice on some scrap wood, I excitedly got to work.
This was the main frame of the bead tree before sanding, drilling holes and painting. I didn't think that I was going to paint the tree until I already had all six dowels glued in place and realized how many flaws I wanted to cover. This made painting interesting! I only wish that I had taken a photo of my husband I and painting it last night. He painted the dowels white, I did the base in blue and we were constantly getting paint on each other's pieces. It was quite an interesting time! I then glued it to an unfinished tray that I bought at a craft store for stability and to store the wooden beads. I like how it turned out functionally. Aesthetically it isn't exactly perfect, but I'm okay with that. I learned so much from this first project and will be able to carry that knowledge into the next!
Tyler was interested in this immediately. It took him a little bit to learn to turn the beads to find the holes at first, but he's catching on fast and seems to really enjoy this activity.
As he gets a little older I may color each dowel to match the beads or perhaps paint patterns for him to copy or he can make his own. I think this will be a good toy for him to practice fine motor control as well as color and pattern recognition for years to come!