Math at Home Math Access for Teachers
and Home Child Care Providers

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Beaded Necklaces
Children will create patterns using beads to string a necklace.
Content Area Standard Target
  • Algebra
  • Understand patterns, relationships and functions
  • Identify, model, and create patterns
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Obtain materials Obtain the Materials
  • Beads and lacing strings
  • Bead Pattern Cards (make your own or use pre-made bead pattern cards)
  • Book: What Next Nina by Sue Kassirer

Note: Small parts create a choking hazard for children. Make sure that all materials you choose to use for an activity or lesson with children meet safety requirements. Small parts are not appropriate for children who are 5 years of age or younger.

Introduce the activity Introduce the Activity
  1. Say: "We are going to read a book about a girl named Nina. Something happens and Nina needs to restring her sister’s necklace exactly like it was. Nina needs to make the SAME pattern with the beads as it was before it broke." "Who knows what a pattern is?" Encourage the children to verbalize what they think a pattern is.
  2. Read: What Next Nina  by Sue Kassirer
  3. Ask children to predict which beads to add to the necklace in order to follow the pattern.
  4. Show children that you are going to make a necklace using a pattern. Start stringing the necklace in front of the children verbalizing what you are doing (e.g., “I put 2 red beads on, now I want 2 blue beads, now I want 2 red beads again and now 2 blue beads. I like my pattern, who can tell me what color to put on next so my pattern stays the same?”)
  5. Create your own necklace using large beads in front of the group. Have children help you figure out what to add to the necklace in order to complete the pattern.
  6. Show children examples of other beaded necklaces and have them tell you which one is NOT a pattern.
Engage the children Engage the Children
  1. Tell children that they are going to make their own necklaces following a pattern.
  2. Direct children to sit in small groups.
  3. Give each child a bucket of beads and the lacing strings and bead pattern cards.
  4. Tell children to first choose a pattern card and then choose beads that match the pattern card and lay the beads on the card.
  5. Ask children to lace the beads in the correct order of the pattern.
  6. Encourage them to describe what their pattern is. Some children may be able to create the pattern by placing the beads on the cards appropriately, but may not be able to transfer that to the necklace string. Assist them by verbalizing the pattern out loud. 
  7. Encourage them to make longer extended patterns. 
  8. Allow children to wear necklaces for the day and take them off before they go home.
Encourage vocabulary Encourage Vocabulary
  • Pattern – Something that repeats more than once (e.g., "Can you find the pattern? What is your pattern?")
  • Repeating – To do or make again and again (e.g.,"Does a pattern repeat?")
  • Same – Identical in kind or quantity (e.g.,"Is yours the same as the picture on the card?")
  • Different – Not similar in size, shape, color or other characteristic (e.g.,"Are all of the necklaces the same? What is different about them?")

Glossary of MATH vocabulary

Make adaptations Make Adaptations

Supporting Children at Different Levels

Toddlers   Pre-K

Toddlers may:

  • Play with beads but not lace or pattern them.
  • Lace beads but not pattern them.
  • Lace beads and call their creation a pattern, even if it is not a pattern.
Vertical line

Preschoolers may:

  • Copy an adult’s pattern.
  • Extend a pattern.
  • Make a pattern but not be able to describe it.
  • Describe their pattern.
  • Recognize when something is not a pattern.

Home child care providers may:

  • Make a bead pattern and encourage children
    to describe it.
  • Compare the teacher’s pattern with the child’s
    non pattern saying “I have 2 red and 2 blue and 2 red and 2 blue, you have 2 green and 1 red and a blue and a yellow."
  • Ask, “Can you make a new pattern starting
    with 3 blue beads?”

Home child care providers may:

  • Encourage the children to compare their necklaces with their classmates.
  • Ask children to make more complex patterns “can you use 3 colors in your pattern?”
  • Ask the children to make a new pattern with the remaining beads.
Books Books
  • What's Next Nina? by Sue Kassierer (New York: Kane Press, 2001)
  • Patterns by Ivan Bulloch (Chicago: World Book Inc., 1994)
  • Mouse and the Apple by Stephen Butler (Topeka, KS: Sagebrush Education Resources, 1994)
  • Dots, Spots, Speckles, and Stripes by Tana Hoban (New York: Greenwillow Books, 1987)
  • Exactly the Opposite by Tana Hoban (New York: Greenwillow Books, 1990)
  • If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff (New York: HarperCollins, 1985)
  • Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature by Sarah C. Campbell (Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills Press, 2010)
Music and movement Music and Movement
Outdoor connections Outdoor Connections
  • Go on a leaf walk and collect leaves.  Look for patterns in the leaf designs.
  • Go on a walk around the neighborhood. What kinds of patterns are all around the neighborhood?  Look for patterns in the sidewalk, with windows and doors, etc.


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