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