Designing Commemorative Beads

Sled Dog Ed

Greetings, Teachers!

Hard to believe the race to Nome is over! However, many people, including children, are on their own “race” to surviving hardships, life career changes, and most of all, overcoming medical conditions. This year some mushers, veterinarians, as well as the 2017 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™️ , Annie Kelley, carried “Beads of Courage” down the trail to Nome. These beads will be given to children as a sign of courage for the medical treatments and procedures they have undergone. Children who have the “Beads of Courage” use them to tell a story of the milestones they have accomplished throughout their medical journey and treatment. Please read Annie’s article, “Beads of Courage”, for more information about this program.

After learning more about these beads, here is an idea for you to implement in your classroom. Have your students create their own bead commemorating a special moment in their life, a hurdle they may have had to overcome, a lifelong dream they might have, or a bead that symbolizes an important person/role model in their life.

Students should first plan their bead. Make a sketch of what the bead would look like, colors that would be used, and any symbols they might put on the bead.

Next, have the students actually create their own bead. Working with art teachers in your building should open up possible avenues of materials for the construction of the bead.

Once the bead is made, have students write about its significance. For who or what was the bead designed? What is the significance of its shape, size, colors, etc.? What special moment in their life does the bead commemorate? I am sure that you can think of other questions for students to think about as they describe and explain their bead.

Display the beads and descriptions in the classroom for others to see. Perhaps your school could organize a run/walk during recess time, before school, or after school that students could “carry” their beads. If you or your students know of families or children in the area that are dealing with medical conditions or life hurdles, think about giving the beads to them as an expression of empathy and compassion. Giving to others is so rewarding!!!

Another option for this activity is to have your students design a bead each month of the school year commemorating an event in your classroom or something new students have learned. Put a hole in each bead and string them for display within the classroom. You will then have created a classroom string of beads to tell the journey/story of the students’ school year.

Have fun designing your beads and sharing the stories!

~Sled Dog Ed