African Trade Beads

African Trade Beads craft

Kids learn about African history and geography as they create beautiful necklaces, bracelets, and ankle bracelets. Wear them everywhere!

  • 1.

    African trading beads were made from a variety of natural and processed materials, such as bone, shells, wood, and minerals. Not all trading beads were made in Africa, but Africa was a central trading area for them. The continent was one corner of a triangular shipping route which included Europe, West Africa, and the West Indies.

  • 2.

    Ornate beads were made from glass, which was heated, then wound around a metal wand in a spiral pattern. To make paper replicas of spiral beads, use Crayola® Scissors to cut very narrow triangles from colored construction paper. The wide end of each triangle will be the size of your bead. Make triangles as long as the paper.

  • 3.

    Decorate your paper triangles with Crayola Gel Markers.

  • 4.

    Beginning with the widest end, wind your paper triangle tightly around a toothpick, keeping the triangle centered as you go. Glue the point of the triangle to the bead with Crayola School Glue. Let the glue air-dry completely.

  • 5.

    After the glue dries, remove the toothpick. String your beads on brightly colored string or yarn. Use smaller beads as spacers, or knot the string between beads for variety.