Wearable Art: Paper Beads with Gelli Arts® with Regina Scott Lesson Plan


  • Students Will Be Able To (SWBAT) create paper beads using Gelli Arts® prints.
  • SWBAT create a unique piece of jewelry using their paper beads.
  • SWBAT learn about the history of bead making.
  • SWBAT improve their fine motor skills by through careful folding.
  • SWBAT improve their tolerance by completing a task that requires patience.
  • SWBAT become both beadmakers and beadworkers.


  • What is a bead?
  • What shapes can beads be?
  • What can beads be used for?
  • What is a trade?
  • Have you ever traded with anyone?
  • What materials were used to create the original beads?
  • When do you think the bead was invented and why?


  • Finished Gelli Arts® prints using Gelli Arts® Mini Stamps
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Glossy Mod Podge
  • Paint brush or sponge brush
  • Paper clips (a handful per student)
  • Paper cups
  • String
  • Optional: Markers and extra paint may be used for embellishment of the finished beads.


  • Bead – a small decorative object that is formed in a variety of shapes and sizes of materials, such as stone, shell, glass, plastic, wood, clay, or paper, and has a small hole perforated for threading or stringing.
  • Beadmakers – Those artists who produce beads from various materials.
  • Beadworkers – Those artists who create jewelry, garments, and regalia from beads.
  • Embellishment – A decorative detail or feature added to something to make it more attractive.
  • Trade – The action of buying and selling goods and services; exchange for something else.


Paper beads are fun and easy to create! They are a great way to use up some finished prints and a perfect project for using those leftover pieces of prints that you have been saving!

The earliest examples of locally manufactured African beads are disk-shaped beads made from ostrich eggshells, which date to around 10,000 BC and have been recovered from archaeological sites. Beads have played an important role in the personal lives of Africans. They have been valued as currency and as an artistic medium. Vibrant colors and complex designs are often an essential part of their creation.

The rise of literacy has largely eliminated the need for beads as currency, but they continued to stay as ritual objects, symbols of wealth, and decorative fashion jewelry.

Teacher should demonstrate how to fold and roll the Gelli® print to create a paper bead. Make sure that the students understand that they should be as creative as possible with their designs.


  • Step 1: First the students will decide which type of bead they’d like to make! There are many different designs that already exist or they could even create their own!
  • Beads should be at least one inch wide and four inches long. Any smaller will be more difficult to fold.
  • Step 2: The students will cut a ton of the paper beads out of finished Gelli Arts® prints into the shapes they desire.
  • Step 3: Make sure the students have some paperclips. They will open them all up until they are flat or have a long “L” shape so the paperclip is easier to hold onto.
  • Step 4: Create a very small fold on one end of the short sides to help start rolling the paper bead.
  • Step 5: Apply a generous amount of Glossy Mod Podge to the back side of the cut paper for the bead.
  • Step 6: Begin rolling the paper bead around the paperclip.
  • The students may need to apply more Mod Podge before finishing rolling the bead, since the glue dries rather quickly.
  • Step 7: Roll all the way until the tip of your paper is wrapped around the bead or if the students prefer they can trim the tip of the paper off.
  • Step 8: Apply the Glossy Mod Podge all around the outside of the bead to the create the glossy finished look of beads.
  • Step 9: Allow plenty of time for the beads to dry. The bead can stay wrapped around the paperclip while drying.
  • Step 10: While waiting for the beads to finish drying, the students can lay the paperclips across the top of a paper cup or a container.
  • Step 11: Once the students have finished making beads they may further embellish the beads with markers or paint if they choose in order to add a personal touch.
  • Step 12: When the students are happy with their beads, they can create beautiful wearable art with them!


  • Social Studies – The students will discuss the history and origin of beads.

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