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

Updated on September 12, 2012
Janine Huldie profile image

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

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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.

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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!


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.

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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.

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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 profile image
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      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      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 :)

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 4 years ago from Florida

      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 profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

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

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 5 years ago

      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 profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      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 profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      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!!

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 5 years ago from North-East UK

      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)

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      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 profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      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 :)

    • remaniki profile image

      Rema T V 5 years ago from Chennai, India

      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 profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

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

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

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

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      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!!

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      KDuBarry03 5 years ago

      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 profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      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 profile image

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      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 profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

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

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      snowdrops 5 years ago from The Second Star to the Right

      Nice one! Math can be exciting too!

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      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.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

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

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      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.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      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 profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      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 profile image

      kikalina 5 years ago from Europe

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

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Thank you too rebeccamealey for your comments and support too!

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Totally could be made for grandma with your boys to teach addition and subtraction too. Thanks kelleyward for your comments and support too!

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

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

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Thank you Dragonflyfla for your comment.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 5 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

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

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      kelleyward 5 years ago

      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

    • josh3418 profile image

      Joshua Zerbini 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      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!

    • dragonflyfla profile image

      dragonflyfla 5 years ago from South Florida

      Great idea!

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      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.

    • josh3418 profile image

      Joshua Zerbini 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

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

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      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.

    • josh3418 profile image

      Joshua Zerbini 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

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