Our family likes to make colorful jewelry for different family celebrations. Here is a fun and easy project that we do to make paper beads in lots of interesting colors for different times of the year.
First you will need to choose your colors. You will need three different colors for each of your beads. You can use construction paper, leftover bits of wrapping paper, or leftover bits of wallpaper. You can also print out paper if you have a color printer, with different designs on it. Remember that only a little bit of each color is going to show for two of the colors. So you will want a pattern that isn’t too big or it will get lost.
Cut your strips of paper into 3 different sizes. One inch by four inches, half-inch by four inches, and quarter-inch by four inches. These three strips will make up one bead. Make up a set of three strips like this for each of the beads that you want to make. They don’t have to all be the same; you can be as creative as you want. If you want your bead to be all one color you can even use three strips of the same kind of paper.
Starting with the largest rectangle of paper, (the one-inch by four-inch piece), spread a line of glue down the center of the strip and wrap it around an ordinary drinking straw. Start by putting the shortest edge against the straw and then roll the rest of the strip over that. It should roll up around the straw so that you have several layers thick but its still only one inch wide, similar to what a roll of toilet paper looks like, but much smaller.
Next, take the medium strip of paper, the half-inch by four-inch piece, run a line of glue down the middle of it, and wrap it over the strip you have already put on. Because it’s smaller you will be able to see a bit of the first color sticking out on either side. Be sure to center your second strip, so that you will have an even amount of the first strip showing on either side. Then repeat the process using the smallest strip, (the half-inch by four-inch piece), so that you have all there strips stacked on top each other with bits of the first and second one sticking out on each side.
Repeat this process as many times as necessary, to make as many beads as you want. It’s fine to put as many as you can on one straw because you will be cutting them apart later. Once you have as many beads assembled as you want, allow the glue to dry thoroughly.
Once your beads have had a chance to dry, use scissors to cut the straw flush with the first strip, (the one-inch by four-inch), so that you don’t have straw sticking out on either end. (You shouldn’t be able to see the straw at all unless you look inside the bead.)
Once you have all your beads cut apart you are ready to string them. Using a piece of yarn, string, or ribbon, string your beads one at a time in any order that you find decorative, and then tie the ends together so that the beads don’t fall off. Cut off any excess string.
Making smaller rings of beads will form bracelets or anklets, longer chains can be necklaces or can be used as decorations. For instance, if you get a very long piece of yarn or ribbon to string them on you can run them along doorways or ceiling edges to decorate a room.
When the event you made your beads for is over, you can also take you beads apart and use them as a counting and sorting game tool to help your children learn about colors and counting.
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