Friendship Bracelets--Teaching Factors to Middle School Kids--A Hands-on Approach

Janine is a published author in Only Trollops Shave Above the Knees, appears on The Huffington Post and at Confessions of A Mommyaholic.

Factors and Patterns

Long before I had my kids, I was trained to be a middle school math teacher. I tended to look at many things in life as an opportunity of how I could relate it to teaching Math. I also loved watching the Wonder Years with Danica McKellar, as the beautiful and lovable Winnie Cooper growing up. As a Math Teacher, I even read her book that she about middle school math and got the idea for this lesson from her book, plus my love of charm bracelets.

Two topics that middle school math students need to learn are factors and patterns. When I design a charm bracelet, be it Pandora or Trollbeads, I am usually looking for a pattern to create and using factors. A factor of a number is a whole number that divides into the number evenly with no remainders. For example, the factors of 24 are 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12 and 24.

Friendship Bracelets

So, let's say we were making a bracelet now. I love how pink and black work together so nicely. So let's use those 2 colors when creating this bracelet. We have 24 beads. Sixteen of these beads are pink and eight are black (16 + 8 = 24). Makes sense so far!

Read Daisy Mariposa's Article on How to Actually Make Friendship Bracelets Here:

• How to Make Friendship Bracelets: Instructions with Pictures
Friendship bracelets can be made of many different materials—woven or braided yarn or thread, macramé knots, single strands of beads strung on a length of jewelry beading wire with a clasp attached, stretch nylon cord, polymer clay, or memory wire. T

So for the 8 black beads, we can have 2 groups of 4 beads each; 4 groups of 2 beads each; and 8 group of 1 bead each. For the pink, we can have 2 groups of 8 each; 4 groups of 4 each; 8 groups of 2 each; or 16 groups of 1 each.

These groupings or options actually are what we previously defined as factors.

Factors, Bracelets and Patterns--Putting It All Together

Now we have to use these factors to make a bracelet that uses the black and pink beads to make a pattern. So now with my students I would have them work hands-on with the factors of both colored beads to come up with a pattern.

In working hands on with these beads for a bit, my students should come to the realization, that we can come up with 3 bracelet patterns or combinations. The first bracelet has 2 groups of 4 black beads broken up by 2 groups of 8 pink beads. The second bracelet pattern has 4 groups of 2 black beads each with 4 groups of 4 pinks beads. And the third bracelet pattern has 8 groups of 1 black bead each broken up by 8 groups of 2 pinks beads each.

Summary and Conclusion of The Factors and Friendship Bracelets Lesson

I truly love this lesson, because it teaches math, specifically the topic of factors and patterns, hands-on and instead of using a boring textbook. So many of my math lessons are just that, hands-on, where my students could manipulate things and actually touch and feel instead of just learning from the text. When I had my students take notes here, they were able to fill in the blanks on note sheets we would do together as working through the hands-on lesson. My homework always reinforced the hands-on lesson as best as I could too. Most of the kids also seemed to like this way of learning, because they could actually leaner by seeing and doing something rather than by learning in the same old-fashioned boring manner.

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Janine Huldie (author) from New York, New York on November 06, 2012:

Mary, seriously can't say thank you enough for your lovely words here about my article and my teaching, too. I, sadly, am not sure if I will ever get back into this profession again, but at least I know my stuff and can even help my kids when they get to this stage in Math. Thanks also for the votes, as well :)

Mary Hyatt from Florida on November 06, 2012:

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I wish I'd had a teacher like you for Math. I was never fond of Math. Later on, Chemistry was very hard for me because I was poor in Math skills. I admire every teacher in the world. They are never paid enough money!

Voted this UP, etc.

Janine Huldie (author) from New York, New York on October 16, 2012:

Oh thank you as always Joseph and judging how both my girls love bracelets and jewelry they would definitely approve :) :)

Joseph De Cross from New York on October 16, 2012:

Interesting and useful Janine! Math can be so much fun, when taught in a different way. Thanks for sharing your knowledge! Lily approved this hub of course!

Janine Huldie (author) from New York, New York on October 02, 2012:

Julie, I definitely think your idea of linking my bracelet hubs would be a good idea and will definitely take a look into doing just that. Thank you for that suggestion and for your lovely comment too :)

Janine Huldie (author) from New York, New York on October 02, 2012:

Oh Michelle, thank you and know you too are a wonderful teacher, who taught similarly with hands-on approaches rather than textbook teach. Thank you also for the share, the pin and tweets too!!

Jools Hogg from North-East UK on October 02, 2012:

Janine, what a great idea for teaching maths using beads. I think kids must love this idea. You should do some links back to your bracelet hubs from this hub :o)

Michelle Liew from Singapore on October 02, 2012:

We all need teachers like you, Janine. I hate textbook teaching myself. Integrating art and Maths..trust you to do it so well! sharing, pinning and tweeting!

Janine Huldie (author) from New York, New York on September 23, 2012:

Rema, I couldn't help it I have always been a lover of jewelry and when I was first teaching this topic this was what came to mind. The Pandora and Trollbeads collecting came way after, but my love for jewelry has been for years :) Thank you again for kindness and constant support too :)

Rema T V from Chennai, India on September 23, 2012:

Hi Janine,

I like how you have combined both your passions-your love for Math and troll beads - beautifully in teaching this lesson.. Simply great! Very interesting hub. Cheers, Rema.

Janine Huldie (author) from New York, New York on August 27, 2012:

Lol, thank you so much Linda. I like that nickname and appreciate your comment and shares too!!

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on August 27, 2012:

I'm going to call you a Jane of all Trades. You are full of cool surprises! :)

Janine Huldie (author) from New York, New York on August 16, 2012:

Keith, thank you so much and so true about trying to keep students motivated. I was always a visual learner and needed to touch or see something tangible. So I tried oh so very hard when I became a teacher to remember this and add this aspect into many of my lessons. Thanks you for the votes and tweet too!!

KDuBarry03 on August 16, 2012:

This is such a great idea! This will definitely keep students more interested in patterns and learning :) Great subject, Janine! Voted up and tweeted!

Janine Huldie (author) from New York, New York on August 16, 2012:

Alecia, thanks I honestly did try my best when I was teaching to teach the topics and subjects at hand by using hands-on activities that my students could relate to as much as possible. Thanks for the comments and your kindness too!!

Alecia Murphy from Wilmington, North Carolina on August 16, 2012:

I wish someone had thought of this when I was a in middle school- that's an ingenious way to keep kids engaged because we all know learning math can get very tedious. Great hub!

Janine Huldie (author) from New York, New York on July 04, 2012:

Thanks snowdrops and totally agree that math can be really fun if we as educators make it that way from the start.

snowdrops from The Second Star to the Right on July 04, 2012:

Nice one! Math can be exciting too!

Janine Huldie (author) from New York, New York on July 03, 2012:

Thanks billybuc. I absolutely loved being able to use hands-on math lessons with my students. Seeing there excitement on a topic that most likely would have had them saying 'this is boring' or 'what I am ever going to use this' for was truly so rewarding for me.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 03, 2012:

What a great idea! I love your approach to teaching; I can definitely see this approach working wonders for kids.

Janine Huldie (author) from New York, New York on July 03, 2012:

Totally love the way you think teaches12345. So much in the craft world are teachable moments. Will be posting more hands on math lessons in the near future. Thanks again for all your support.

Dianna Mendez on July 03, 2012:

I can see where this craft would make a great session on colors, math, social skills and creative thinking. Love your descriptions and how you made it work with the students.

Janine Huldie (author) from New York, New York on July 02, 2012:

Thank you kikalina. I truly love to be able to teach a subject not using the old chalk and talk method, but to use hands on whenever possible. I like seeing my students engaged and fully immersed in a topic.

kikalina from Europe on July 02, 2012:

What a great idea! Definitely not a chalk and talk approach!

Janine Huldie (author) from New York, New York on July 01, 2012:

Janine Huldie (author) from New York, New York on July 01, 2012:

Janine Huldie (author) from New York, New York on July 01, 2012:

Again Josh thank you so much for your comments and continued support. It is totally appreciated 110%!

Janine Huldie (author) from New York, New York on July 01, 2012:

Thank you Dragonflyfla for your comment.

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on July 01, 2012:

Patterning and factoring with beads is a great idea for hands on math! Nice !

kelleyward on July 01, 2012:

This is a great idea! I have 3 boys but we could make these for grandma! Boys love to count, add, and subtract and these beads would be perfect for that. Voted up and shared! Kelley

Joshua Zerbini from Pennsylvania on July 01, 2012:

Yeah I know what you mean by saying it is a big plus to be with your kids at their young age. That is a blessing for sure! But, yeah if you can a job when they head off to school, that would be excellent! Good luck to you!

Joy Campbell from South Florida on July 01, 2012:

Great idea!

Janine Huldie (author) from New York, New York on July 01, 2012:

Thank you again so much Josh. The job and paying off student loans for it kind it stinks but being home with my kids while they are this little is a huge plus to me. I just hope that I will be able to get another teaching job when they start school full-time.

Joshua Zerbini from Pennsylvania on July 01, 2012:

Oh sorry about the job :( Hopefully things work out for you in the future! You are very welcome for the support! :) Anytime!

Janine Huldie (author) from New York, New York on July 01, 2012:

Thank you Josh for once again your comments and support. I am a certified Math Teacher, who unfortunately lost her job due to the economy and job excesses. I am a stay at home mom currently, but still have the passion for teaching and have quite a few hands-on lesson plans that I have written and will be trying to share on here, because I makes me great to be able to share my ideas even if I am not currently teaching them right now.

Joshua Zerbini from Pennsylvania on July 01, 2012:

What a great idea! So are you a teacher then?! I am sure the kids love these! Voted up, awesome, and interesting!