Simple Service: Friendship Bracelets

Service Project: Make friendship bracelets for Humanitarian groups to bring to clinics in Haiti

Prep time: 2 minutes to copy off printable

Cost: $10 to make several (once you've bought the string and beads you're set for many bracelets)

Duration: 15-30 minutes

Lesson(s) learned: We have many things in common with children all around the world.

How we did it: I've got to start by saying that this was one of my favorite projects so far.  The kids got so excited about it and for good reason!

We were back for another summer camp at Old School, where we did those dog toys and rhythm sticks.  We have loved partnering with Old School this summer to bring some service to their creative camps and have been so inspired by the kids we meet there!  

First we talked a little about how awesome Haiti is and how some people get to go there and make sure that Haitians have the medical care they need.  We showed photos of some of the medical tents, humanitarians, and Haitian kids involved.  We mentioned that when people go to Haiti from the US they will often bring friendship bracelets from kids like them and hand them out to kids there.  We talked about how these campers like to get something fun when they go to the doctor or dentist and how the kids in Haiti probably like it too.  

When it comes to beads and children, let's talk logistics.  Having a plan for where all those little round balls will go makes all the difference between an afternoon on the ground trying to find every last spilled bead and an afternoon of fun with those kiddos.  So, we made these handy dandy pages for the campers and recommend you use them too.  Print them out on regular 8.5"x11" sheets of paper.  Fold up on the dashed lines and the beads stay on the paper. 

We spread beads on paper plates scattered around the table for kids to choose their beads off.  Each bracelet takes about 25 beads.  For those Littles that have a hard time counting that high, just have them put a bead in every circle on the bracelet printed on the page.  They can plan their bracelet however they like right on the paper.  If you're using different shaped beads (like glow-in-the-dark!), you might need less than 25.  

Now to make threading easy and wearing fun, we used thick elastic cord.  Cut it in 1' lengths and put a piece of tape on one side so the beads don't slide right off.  Fill it up with those 25 beads, tie a tight knot (we did this for the kids), and cut off the excess cord.  Done!

We did this with 2 age groups.  Ages 3-5 could totally do this project but it took quite a while to get those beads threaded.  It was great fine motor skill practice!  Ages 5-11 did this so fast that we had time for each child to make 2 bracelets.  They made one for themselves and one for a child in Haiti.  

It was so neat hearing how each child picked out beads for their Haitian friend bracelet.  Some wanted the bracelet they would keep and the one for their Haitian friend to be exactly the same.  Some picked out the "best" beads for their Haitian friend.  So sweet!

If you don't know anyone that can tuck some friendship bracelets into their bags on their next humanitarian trip, these would also be great to give to your local women's shelter or teen crisis clinic.