Beaded Necklaces

In this lesson, children will create patterns using beads to string a necklace.

Math Lesson for:

Toddlers/Preschoolers
(See Step 5: Adapt lesson for toddlers or preschoolers.)

Content Area:

Algebra

Learning Goals:

This lesson will help toddlers and preschoolers meet the following educational standards:

  • Understand patterns, relationships and functions

Learning Targets:

After this lesson, toddlers and preschoolers should be more proficient at:

  • Identifying, modeling and creating patterns

Beaded Necklaces

Lesson plan for toddlers/preschoolers

Step 1: Gather materials.

  • Beads and lacing strings
  • Bead pattern cards (make your own or use pre-made bead pattern cards)
  • Book: What’s Next, Nina? by Sue Kassirer

Note: Small parts pose a choking hazard and are not appropriate for children age five or under. Be sure to choose lesson materials that meet safety requirements.

Step 2: Introduce 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 restring the necklace with the beads in the SAME pattern as before. Who knows what a pattern is?” Encourage the children to verbalize what they think a pattern is.
  2. Read: What’s Next, Nina? by Sue Kassirer
  3. Ask the children to predict which beads to add to the necklace in order to follow the pattern.
  4. Show the children that you are going to make a necklace using a pattern. Start stringing the necklace in front of the children while verbalizing what you are doing (e.g., “I put two red beads on, now I want two blue beads, now I want two red beads again and now two blue beads. I like my pattern. Who can tell me what color to put on next so that my pattern stays the same?”)
  5. Create your own necklace using large beads in front of the group. Have the children help you figure out what to add to the necklace in order to complete the pattern.
  6. Show the children examples of other beaded necklaces and have them tell you which ones do NOT have a pattern.

Step 3: Engage children in lesson activities.

  1. Tell the children that they are going to make their own necklaces following a pattern.
  2. Direct the children to sit in small groups.
  3. Give each child a bucket of beads and the lacing strings and bead pattern cards.
  4. Tell the 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 the 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 the pattern to the necklace string. Assist them by verbalizing the pattern out loud.
  7. Encourage the children to make longer extended patterns.
  8. Allow the children to wear the necklaces for the day and take them off before they go home.

Step 4: Teach math vocabulary.

  • Pattern: Something that repeats more than once (e.g., “Can you find the pattern?” or “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

Step 5: Adapt lesson for toddlers or preschoolers.

Adapt Lesson for Toddlers
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
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 two red and two blue and two red and two blue, you have two green and one red and a blue and a yellow.”
  • Ask: “Can you make a new pattern starting with three blue beads?”
Adapt Lesson for Preschoolers
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:
  • Encourage the children to compare their necklaces with the necklaces of their classmates
  • Ask children to make more complex patterns: “Can you use three colors in your pattern?”
  • Ask the children to make a new pattern with the remaining beads

Suggested Books

  • Dots, Spots, Speckles and Stripes by Tana Hoban (New York: Greenwillow Books, 1987)
  • Exactly the Opposite by Tana Hoban (New York: Greenwillow Books, 1990)
  • Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature by Sarah C. Campbell (Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills Press, 2010)
  • If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff (New York: HarperCollins, 1985)
  • Mouse and the Apple by Stephen Butler (Topeka, KS: Sagebrush Education Resources, 1994)
  • Patterns by Ivan Bulloch (Chicago: World Book Inc., 1994)
  • What’s Next, Nina? by Sue Kassirer (New York: Kane Press, 2001)

Music and Movement

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, in windows and doors, etc.

Web Resources

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