Welcome to the second installment of my jewelry making information series that doesn’t really have a name. This post is geared toward helping you find jewelry making activities depending on age and skill levels. Of course, I will link to sample activities that you can try. You’ll find that this post mostly talks about doing jewelry making activities in a GROUP setting, however, you can apply much of the information to an individual as well. (Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links)
Of course, the first step is to know the skills of your artists! If you are doing this in a general group setting, you’ll want to keep it simple, so that anyone can do it. If you’re working one-on-one with a talented child, you can take it a few notches up.
This list is PRIMARILY based on what I’ve done in a party setting. Back in the day, I used to go to birthday parties and such of various age levels (the youngest was six, the oldest was turning seventy) to do jewelry making crafts.
The key to doing jewelry making activities in a group setting is to leave it open ended!
Offer a large variety of beads, cords, or whatever the key component of your craft is. You may find, if you’re doing an activity with a large group, that some will need help finishing bracelets, or whatever it is. This is totally fine – as long as they designed the piece on their own!
Why do jewelry making activities?
I’ve already discussed why I make jewelry, and why I think it’s a great activity. For the purposes of this post, however, I’ll give you two primary reasons, focused more on the younger and older creators (and not the middle range). It’s an amazing fine-motor activity, and it’s a great outlet to stimulate creativity in a functional way.
Jewelry making is a top choice for girl’s parties – and by girls, once again, I mean girls of all ages! It’s also great for helping your child develop a hobby.
Jewelry making activities by age:
Toddler: Toddlers as young as 18 months can start by stringing large-hole items on something stiff, even if it doesn’t make a final piece. M enjoys stringing pipe connectors onto crayons. The primary focus would be to develop fine motor skills. A little older, they can string large-hole beads onto a string with plastic ends. I do this with M using this set. It can even start looking pretty at this point, such as with this jewelry craft for toddlers.
Preschool: At about age three, they should be able to start stringing smaller beads, also with large holes such as these. Use yarn, ideally with finished ends (you can tape the ends yourself), or plastic lacing (which can be finished with tape or glue, as it doesn’t knot nicely).
6-7 year old: At this point, they can definitely start doing jewelry making activities that LOOK REAL but require very basic techniques, with an adult finishing it off. Think outside the box at this age – friendship-style bracelets that require drawing on beads to make it “personal”, painting elements combined with basic stringing, and various button pieces that are fun but simple.
So essentially, you’re using skills they already have (painting, coloring) and combining them with slightly more refined stringing to make an actual pretty piece that they can gift!
This is also a great time to start making more “sophisticated” clay pieces for them to try! They already know clay at this point, and this will turn it into a lifelong skill.
8-10 years old: I’ve taught children as young as eight to start with jewelry making techniques such as finishing a bracelet, or making a loop, and connecting the earrings, and the clasp. I’d keep the rest of the craft simple, but creative, so that you can focus on the main skill at hand.
Some great crafts to start with include this bracelet (you can offer a variety of ribbons instead of leather cord), or this flower necklace (which includes more basic sewing skills, but makes a beautiful piece of jewelry). Teach about gluing jewelry with seashell earrings and other basic jewelry making activities.
This is a great age to still focus a lot on the “outside the box” aspect of jewelry making, using crafts that incorporate basic crafting skills (such as painting) and gluing.
NOTE: most jewelry making projects at this point that use glue will use E-6ooo or an epoxy, which is industrial strength. If you don’t want to expose such young children to it at this stage, use tacky glue or something similar. It won’t be as strong, but it will stick for a while.
Tween: This complicated age, where they’re too big for toys, but not quite out and about yet, is the perfect time to get them involved in jewelry making activities! They should basically be able to learn most skills, if they are good with their hands. If yes, make projects that teach more skills, such as rings like this one , rings like this one., and rings like this one. If not, go for open-ended basic beading projects, using nicer, more “real” looking beads, and fishing line.
Try things like these wire wrapped bracelets too – they are fun, without requiring a high level of skill.
Teen-adult: The things you can make are endless! My favorite jewelry making workshops were with teens, as they get so creative, and can basically do anything.
Don’t stick to traditional jewelry crafts and beading! One of my favorite crafts for making in a teen workshop (especially where it’s a one-time thing, and people don’t necessarily know the basic skills) is my glitter blocked cuffs.
Older adults: The one time I was asked to do a party for an older adult’s birthday, I was advised to keep it uncomplicated. Many of them may be losing dexterity, so choose slightly larger-holed beads. Wires (as opposed to strings) are a great choice as they’re easier to string. Open-ended wire wrapping projects, using larger gemstones or wood beads are perfect.
Make sure to follow along for more background into jewelry making, including supplies you need to get started, tips for getting started, and of course, regular jewelry making activities shared on the blog!
What are your favorite jewelry making activities? Share in the comments below!