Stringing Homemade Beads

Stringing Homemade Beads

I made some flour clay that I then fashioned into beads that our 2 year old son could then string onto shoe laces; it's a fine way for preschool children to learn motor skills. He really enjoyed it. I made each of the beads into different shapes so he could learn his shapes, like circles and stars, etc., and also used food coloring on them so he could learn different colors. So, he is learning in the process of having fun making homemade beads that are fun to string together with shoelaces.

These are very inexpensive, and the nice thing is you can make them the right size (quite large) to be used safely by young children. 

(Remember, infants and toddlers can choke on small beads if they put them in their mouth, so use caution and keep all small beads out of the reach of babies and toddlers who are in the habit of putting everything in their mouth.)

Sometimes, big beads are really hard to find. You can make them with small cookie cutters, like stars and cars, and that makes them easier to shape too. I do the first couple of steps by myself. You have to heat this recipe on the stove and let it cool down, then mix in the food coloring. But you can do the shaping with your child.

I got this recipe from a book in the library called Recipes for Arts and Craft Materials by Helen Rodney Sattler:

  1. 3/4 cup salt

  2. 3/4 cup non-self-rising flour

  3. 2 teaspoons of powered alum ( in the spice section at the supermarket)

  4. 3/4 cup water

  5. 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  6. Food coloring

  7. Mix salt, 1/2 cup flour, and alum in a saucepan.

  8. Add water slowly, stirring to break up lumps.

  9. Place over low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is rubbery and difficult to stir. It should not be sticky when touched.

  10. Add vegetable oil. Stir until blended.

  11. Turn out onto a plate or aluminum foil. Set aside until cool enough to handle.

  12. If more than one color is desired, divide mixture in portions and to each portion add a different food coloring. Knead until color is blended.

  13. Add up to 1/4 cup flour if clay is sticky.

Makes 1 1/2 cups.

How to use: 

Model as with any clay. Press clay into molds or use it to make beads or disks being sure to pierce holes in beads before clay dries. Large disks that are 1 inch in diameter are easiest for toddlers to hold and thread on a shoe string. For additional learning opportunities, form the clay into different shapes and colors, yellow stars, blue circles, green squares and red triangles. This clay hardens in a few days; do not bake. Store unshaped clay in an airtight container.