Paper Beads

Time 45 minutes
Age 7 & up
Group Size 4 or more
Tags Bracelet, Crafts, Individual,   more...
Necklace Paper Recycle

Make a beautiful bracelet or necklace using just paper, glue and string!

In this activity, children will make beads out of scrap paper and string them together to make wearable art. These beads can be really beautiful, and aside from all that kids get out of this as an art activity, they will also be experimenting with patterns and shapes.


Gather scrap paper – the more interesting the paper, the better the beads. Magazines and wrapping paper work well, but you can also use construction paper, origami paper—anything you have around. You might also want to make some beads ahead of time yourself so your students can see what they’ll be making.

Paper Beads

Suggested Materials

  • Scrap paper from magazines, wrapping paper, etc.
  • Wooden skewers, straws or pencils (1 per child)
  • Glue sticks (2-3 per table)
  • String, fishing line or dental floss (about 100 feet)
  • Scissors

Optional Materials

  • Rulers
  • Elmer’s glue, thinned slightly with a little water, or clear nail polish
  • Small paintbrushes

Make it Matter

Opening Discussion

Ask your students if they’ve ever made jewelry. What did they make? What materials did they use?

The Challenge

Make a beautiful bracelet or necklace using just paper, glue and string!


Make it Happen

Doing the Activity

  1. Students will work individually on this project.  Show your students any beads or necklaces you made ahead of time.  Tell them they’ll get to make their own unique piece of jewelry.
  2. Allow your children to examine the scrap paper you’ve laid out for them.  They may need some time to leaf through the magazines, etc.  Have them choose their paper and bring it back to their tables.
  3. Hand out a ruler along with skewers, straws or pencils to each child.  Skewers work best, but anything thin, long and round will do – even knitting needles are good.
  4. Demonstrate the process of making a bead for the class:
    • Cut a long, thin triangle from the scrap paper.  Using the ruler can help you to create the right shape.  The triangle should be between 8” and 11” long and anywhere from ½” to 2” wide.  A wider triangle will make a wider bead.  A longer triangle will make a thicker bead.
    • Lay the triangle on the table with the pattern that you like face down on the table.
    • Using the skewer and starting at the wide end of the triangle, roll the triangle around the skewer until you are an inch from the point of the triangle.  Use the glue stick to add some glue to the last inch of the strip, then finish rolling it up.  You will have an almost-round bead.  Let the glue dry a little, then remove it from the skewer.

Once your students have seen this process, have them make their own beads, and make lots of them—they’ll need many beads to make a necklace or bracelet.


Make it Click

Let’s Talk About It

After 10–15 minutes of activity, when everyone has made at least 1 bead, stop your students and bring them together to share their observations with each other. What was easy or hard about making the beads? Does anyone have any advice on the process, or on picking out cool patterns? This discussion should last no more than a few minutes.


Make it Better

Build On What They Talked About

Send your students back to the activity to finish making all their beads. Once they have their beads done, students can cover them in watered-down glue or clear nail polish using small paintbrushes. This last step makes the beads both shiny and sturdy. Let these beads dry completely, then thread the string, fishing line or floss through the holes in the center of the beads to create the finished necklace or bracelet.


  • Have your students make their beads out of different-shaped strips. Triangles make round beads, rectangles make cylindrical beads and rectangles with a triangle cut out of two opposite sides (figure 1) make hourglass-shaped beads:
  • In your discussions with your students, ask them if they are thinking about how the beads they are making will go together in the final product. Does this influence their choice of what paper to use?
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