5 Ideas for Kid-Friendly Beading Projects

Make a Kid-Friendly Beading To-Do List

Week #1 of Summer Vacation is novel: Hurray! It’s Summer! Picnics at the beach! Canoeing on the creek! Sleeping in!

Weeks #2 and #3: Well-planned. Filled with sports, music, and reading classes.

And now it’s Week #4. I’ve already pooped out in the plan-your-summer department. As a result I’ve received more than my fair share of “I’m bored”s and my kids have received more than their fair share of “Talk to the hand because my ears can’t hear you”s.

Sound familiar? Even if you don’t have kids around every day during the summer you probably come into contact with them. You’ll notice their presence because they’re gnawing on your ankles and tend to have that “entertain me” look on their faces.

Don’t get me wrong, I have great kids and I love them, but I’m often struck by their lack of creativity in boredom department. I guess I remember roaming the woods all day, making mud pies, and putting on plays with my friends—my only worry was to keep an ear out for the dinner bell. I realize that was a different time—now we put GPS tracking devices on our kids’ cell phones to keep a virtual tether. Oy! I’m pretty sure this “I’m bored” problem is one we’ve created for ourselves, but that’s another discussion for another venue . . .

Keeping the Kids Busy with Beads this Summer: 5 Ideas

To battle the boredom and my lack of patience with it, I’ve decided to make a list with 100 things on it that my kids could do on their own. It involves things like “Pick weeds,” “Water the garden,” and “Practice your cello,” but also fun stuff like “Build a fairy fort with sticks” and “Make a bleach-pen t-shirt.” Also included are these bead-related entries:

1. Make a project from the new Creative Jewelry.

Even though this magazine isn't written specifically for kids, I figure they can pick any project strikes their fancy and dig through my stash to find the proper materials or at least similar materials. This new issue of Creative Jewelry is full of over 135 very easy, very fashionable stringing and light wirework projects and provides page after page of inspiration for jewelry makers of all ages. (Bragging mom moment: My daughter has her first published design in this issue! Check it out on page 74.)

2. Macramé a necklace.

Macramé at our house was a HUGE hit last summer, so this year I’ve made sure to have lots of waxed linen, jute, and wide-holed beads on hand for my kids and their friends.

3. Organize Mama’s bead stash.

This entry has a “$$” by it, as do some of the others on my List of 100. I need it done; they need the money.

4. Make a cell phone charm.

These little dangles for a cell phone are so easy to make that they could make a different one for every day. It’s really just a matter of adding a dangle (like that for an earring) to a cell phone charm finding.

5. Bead a ball cap.
This is actually a great project for new bead embroiderers. Since the canvas is stiff, you don’t need to mess with hoops to pull the fabric tight. Use wide-holed beads and embroidery floss to sew beads right to the crown.
What else would you add to the list? Please help all us desperate parents by sharing on the website.

Related Posts:


Beading Daily Blog, Beading for Kids
Michelle M.

About Michelle M.

I was the founding editor of Beading Daily (2007-2009) and my now a freelance designer/writer/editor.  My designs have been published in Stringing, Step by Step Beads, Jewelry Gifts for the Holidays, Creative Jewelry, Beadwork, and other magazines. I enjoy stringing, bead embroidery, wirework, metal work, mixed media, beadweaving—pretty much anything that involves beads or jewelry.  I also enjoy exploring new crafts like pottery and felting.  I write a personal blog if you want to see more of my work. 16+ Free Beading Projects: A list of the free projects I created for Beading Daily. Contact Info If you have a question regarding Beading Daily, please contact customer service at beadingdaily@interweave.com or the current editor, Kristal Wick. If you'd like to contact me, you'll find my info on my website:  www.michellemach.com.  You can also follow me on Twitter at:  http://twitter.com/beadsandbooks Pictured here is a pair of earrings I made for the Spring 2010 issue of Stringing in an attempt to get over my fear of designing with the color orange!

20 thoughts on “5 Ideas for Kid-Friendly Beading Projects

  1. RV Beading for kids:
    Kids love to see their name on a necklace or bracelet. I had them use the thin ribbon and string their name and tie with a bow.One of the boys refuse to wear a ribbon, so he sewed his name beads on a leather shoe lace.
    Beaded marble boys or girls.
    Simple take a length of Copper wire and have the kids make a Spriral for th crown of the marble. Next lift the top, and leave a loop on the top.finish like a head pin for earrings.
    Glue to the Marble. when dry string on Leather shoe Lace, or cord,ribbon etc.
    One Little guy about 9yrs old, made his so he could stick the marble inside and glue it and he finished it on both ends like a headpin and attached his Initials to the bottom of the Marble. While I was drooling, His dad came by,(you guessed it, )Dad does wire work.
    Thanks for Shareing your ideas.Mary

  2. My preschooler strings Cheerios and Froot Loops onto pipe cleaners. My older child has learned to make beaded bracelets using those awesome UV-ray detection beads. This is a great project and lesson to build awareness of the dangers of too much sun exposure!

  3. I really like the “organize Mama’s bead stash” one. Good grief, if they get good at it, you could hire them out to other disorganized beaders. I’d hire them! Bonnie

  4. What about Shrinky Dinks beads, buttons and pins?! If the commercial product isn’t available there’s always the lids from plastic take-out and deli containers.

  5. Oh, yeah, we’ve done the Shrinky Dink charms too, usually available at your local craft store like Michaels, Hobby Lobby, or Jo-Ann’s. They love coloring them first and watching them shrink before their eyes.

  6. My five year old grand daughter loves to draw and paint. I have given her a bead box of her own. She uses the beads to embellish her drawings. I have printed out some princess items for her to embellish (flat backed crystals for her tiara). She is becoming very adept at using her scissors as well as controlling the amount of glue she needs for each bead. I had saved several small boxes for her to use. I punched a couple of holes in the side of one box and she strung the beads to create a handle. We slid the small box inside of a slightly larger one to make a drawer for her creations.

  7. There was one wonderful year, kids age end of 3rd grade through end of 7th grade, when I announced that anyone who claimed to be bored, with nothing to do, would have to wash the kitchen floor. End of summer, 4 happy kids, and only two times was the floor washed, by a smart-aleck friend!

  8. At art camp this summer, I had the kids (ages 8-14) make paper beads. I began with plain white copy paper and made a black lined template for them to cut out. I made both a barrel–straight line and a tapered shape. After running off copies, they color with markers and cut out. I gave them wooded skewers 6 inches long to role their beads on. They stuck each stick in a glob of clay and when finished, sealed them with matte medium. They loved it so much they asked to take extra materials home so they could make more.

  9. When I was very young my mother would keep me busy while she was sewing by giving me her large button jar and a piece of crochet cotton thread with a button tied on one end. I would happily spend hours stringing button necklaces and sorting buttons. My mother is now gone but her button jar is now one of my treasures. Including her own, it has now served 3 generations of early beaders and hopefully at least one more.

  10. I love the comment about the button jar, though mine is a box (several of them, in fact), and includes buttons from both Grandmothers. It’s all about history.

    For the kids I find in my company, I usually keep a few pieces of memory wire in the basket that already have a loop on one end. I give them my box of “bead soup” and help make the finishing loop when they are done. This can keep them busy for hours, making things for themselves and their friends.


  11. Bug Rocks!
    The 1st thing u need are some little smooth round or oval rocks. Dont use sand stone b/c they just fall apart in no time at all. After u find ur perfect lil rocks u need to wash the dirt off of em and let em dry.
    Now go to ur paint stash and grab some acrylic paint and brushes. Lay down some newspaper or whatever to keep the paint off the table.
    A couple of tips: 1- if using a lighter color of paint start off with a base coat of white. 2- To make perfect little circles for like eyes and ladybug poka dots use the end of the paint brush. Just dip and then dot. Dip N’ Dot! Huh Huh…
    Good luck, Have fun. Oh, and when they are good and dry you can spray or paint them with a clear coat to make them last a very long time. They are perfect for little flower gardens. Just try to keep em out of babies reach.

  12. Kids love to make useful things for gifts. Try making a beaded keychain. It’s a good way to use up one of a kind beads & charms, leather scraps, etc. Another great useful item is a beaded eyeglass chain, great for Mom, Grandma & teachers.

  13. make original beads, pendants & small critters to string from fimo or sculpey clay – no kiln necessary – it is “fired” in the oven. b/c your making beads only a few dif colors of blocks of clay are needed.

  14. Although im not mum yet i remember when i was young and had lots of time to waste making daisies necklaces singing them into a a piece of wool with a round wool needle passing it trough the center I remem ber i loved how soft the petals will feel on my skin. They wont last long but they looked amazing!!
    I also remember that my dad used to give us large rolling stones he found by the river and gave us paint to make very nice paper or book holders for our rooms.
    But if they dont like any of these they can also try the friendship bracelets plating away with some leftover wool for those friends that went away on hollidays and will not see again until the end of the summer.
    I remember that one of my first things i made was a pasta necklace and you can also paint the pasta beads with your prefered colors! I did one in pink by submerging it into beetroot it was a bit messy but make sure your kitchen table is available and they have some old t-shirts on! i also loved the stars for the soup that have a little hole in the midle and if they are old enough to use a pan they can toast them slightly in the pan to change the color into toasty brown…With pasta posibilyties are endless and so cheap to keep them bussy 🙂

  15. I can’t quite follow the paper bead instructions from Barbara Elmquist. Is there somewhere where I can get written instructions perhaps with pictures? Love the idea. And I played with a button jar too for hours while my mom sewed. . Thanks for the great memory.

  16. To go along with the shrink-a-dink comments…
    get some base metal chain, jump rings and lobster clasps and they can make a charm bracelets (with a little help for the clasps) I am on my way to the craft store to pick up some more shrink plastic so we can do this project tonight.

    Also, if you look in the polymer clay section of hobby lobby or michaels, they sell eraser clay. I personally have not tried it yet but it seems like kids would love it.

    You could also get large pieces of craft paper and craft paint and let the kids make pictures were you fold the paper in half …unfold it and put drops of paint in various areas then refold (don’t rub or you will smear the paint) then open and let the paint dry.

  17. I love the paper bead idea. My kids and I have been making them for a while and I recently added page to my web site showing with photos how we make them – http://www.earthlyexpressions-jewelry.com/paperbeads.html
    Another idea we do is making a home made bead board. All you need is dinner size paper plate(10 1/4 inch), a regular 8 5/8 inch paper plate and some glue or a hot glue gun. Simply glue the smaller plate into the middle of the larger one. If you want to get fancy, use a measuring tape and mark off 7 inches with a marker on your plate.

  18. I watch four grandchildren all summer. Ages 2, 4, 7, & 10. We do puzzles, planted a garden, but the most fun they have is when we are beading together. They have made simple necklaces with whatever beads they want in my extra bead stash. The most fun they had was stringing pearls and seed beads to make lovely book marks. A 12 inch piece of fire line then pearl bead pearl bead. Add a charm of their choice to each end and it is something they are so proud of. Then a trip to the local library and they pick a book to use the book mark in.

  19. A bleach pen is something you find in the Laundry Department. I have one by Clorox. Its a tube with an small opening for thickened bleach. The other end has a brush type opening. You can use it on colored t shirts or any colored fabric that will bleach (test inconspicuously first). You can make dots, draw lines and pictures. Think geometric, squiggles, circles and other shapes.
    Since the pen has bleach in it, do supervise kids carefully.
    Follow label instructions and wash out in the appropriate time (my pen says immediately )
    Would be really fun to use after dying t shirts.