African-Inspired Paper Bead Craft (with Video)

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Last week, I shared our first African-inspired “bead” craft made with pasta noodles, and this week I wanted to share a slightly more advanced African bead craft.

This African paper bead craft is a great fine motor activity and I love that it allows for creativity, while having that Montessori Method control of error!

How to Make African-Inspired Paper Beads (the Montessori Way!)

This activity is pretty straightforward, but I did create a video to explain and show the process just in case I don’t describe it well enough here:


First, set up your tray with the following, from left to right:

  • small basket with paper strips (preferably that the children have cut themselves)
  • glue stick (I prefer the purple glue sticks as they give feedback and control of error, but any glue stick will do!)
  • straw (as mentioned in the video, I prefer these because if the bead gets stuck to the straw, you can remove or cut off a straw and avoid ruining the children’s hard work)
  • second small basket for finished beads


I like to tell the children before we engage in a cultural craft about the traditions or background of the craft. I find that they get really excited to try something from another culture and have a bit of reverence for the work that they are creating.

How to Make An African Paper Bead

Take one strip of paper and lay two or three fingers at one end (lengthwise). This is the area that will not have any glue.

Untitled design(8)

Glue straight down the remainder of the strip, then place the straw at the unglued end and start rolling the paper around the straw.

rolling paper bead

Once the paper is wrapped around the straw, start rolling the paper strip, using the straw to help make the motion easier.

When you reach the end of the paper strip, add a little extra glue to the edge before closing the bead and pinching all around to secure the glue.

Slide the bead off of the straw, and repeat for as many beads as you’d like for your necklace!


You can also show the children how to layer different widths of paper strips on the same bead to make “striped” beads, and you could also add a layer of modge podge to the completed beads to help them last longer.


After you’ve made as many beads as you’d like, start stringing them onto some cord or yarn. If using yarn, I like to wrap a small piece of tape around one end to make it easier for the children to guide. (Just make sure to cut of the scratchy tape before they wear it!)


And there you have it, their very own African-inspired paper bead necklace! This is a great African craft to engage in during a cultural appreciation unit, or just to make some jewelry while building fine motor skills!

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