A tutorial; Gum ball necklaces with kids.

It all started a few weeks before Valentines day. Zizza’s kindergarten class party was on my mind as I was browsing around the interwebs.

In my browsing I came across a lovely “gum ball necklace” no part of this necklace was actually made of gum, but rather large plastic gum looking beads. This disappointed me. I decided that if I were disappointed, someone else must have been at some point as well, so surely somewhere I could find evidence of the gum jewelry trail having been blazed before me. I found it here.
Since I wanted to make necklaces with the kindergarten class rather than for the kindergarten class, I knew I’d have to resort to my own methods. Did I think 5-6 year olds capable of stringing punctured gum balls? Yes. Did I think them capable of stringing something as bulky as ribbon through the size hole that would result in puncturing a gum ball? No. So here’s what I did.

For my method you’ll need


A glue gun


A bead reamer (you sure could use a fatty needle but be prepared to bandage some stab wounds if you do)

and candy beads (I bought a few necklaces and snipped their strings to get my beads)

There are a few things I recommend doing in a child free zone before you introduce the project to the smalls. First, poke holes in the gum balls. I poked straight through one side just far enough to mark the spot directly across the gum ball from the first hole…

then I flipped the gum ball over and poked the second hole. I held the gum balls in a scrap of fabric both to add stability and to keep my fingers from getting sugar coated and ruining the shiny candy finish on the gum balls.

Here’s what it looks like once a gum ball has been transformed from an average candy into a potentially wearable confection.

The next thing to attend to is affixing the string to the ribbon. I used 2 foot lengths of ribbon and 9-10 inch lengths of string. Before heading to the classroom I put a glob of hot glue on one end of the ribbon, laid the string through the glue and folded the ribbon back on its self. Like this

Then I tied the string in a double knot

and threaded the other end through a blunt nosed needle.

Now the necklace is ready to introduce to it’s jeweler.

I found that most kids needed help finding the second hole in the gum ball at least part of the time. A few really determined tots refused guidance and poked their own when they had trouble guiding the needle through the ready made holes.

Sadly, their hard work was wasted as the eyes of the needles were too wide to fit through the holes made by their rounded points. I had to dislodge the needles from the kid-made holes and guide them through their more obliging counterparts before those few stubborn kiddos could continue their designs.
The Candy bead spacers are much easier to manage. Nobody needed help there.

Soon, all the beads will be strung and it will be time to glue and tie the second ends ribbon and string.

Then step back and admire the finished product.

In Zizza’s class we were making the necklaces as gifts for loved ones, so after each kid got a good look at their handy work, I popped it into a paper bag (which they had previously labeled with “to” and”from”) and stapled it shut before any tongues could be applied to the gifts.

For Zizza’s class of 19 kids, we worked in groups of 4-5. Each group took about 15 minutes by the time they’d chosen either pink or red ribbon, I’d threaded the needles on the chosen ribbon/strings and all were beaded, handed back, glued and sealed in bags. The whole project went really smoothly and was a lot of fun.

I introduced the project as a gift for a few reasons. First, I didn’t want to be in the room with 19 kids in possession of five gum balls apiece, and second, I thought the idea that it was for a mom or grandma or sister or someone would alleviate any complaints from boys about making a pink necklace.

I’m pleased to report that not even one boy complained about girlyness in the project. A few even addressed their creations to their dads. Also, if any body tasted their candy they did it on the super sly cause I didn’t see or hear a word about it.

Finally, if you happen to have a birthday party or some kind of event coming up where you’d like to do this project could I please send you my extra gum balls? The holes are even already there. That’s the most time consuming part of the project. The gum in the photo above is what I have left; about half of what I started with. I don’t even like gum. I don’t foresee another necklace making extravaganza until at least next Valentines day and by then that gum will be awful hard to chew. So seriously, if you want to make a bunch of necklaces or if you just really like bubble gum. Let me know. I’ll hook you up.

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