Somehow, I always manage to be in charge of my kids' holiday parties at school. Maybe because I am super controlling and bossy about crafts?? Yes, I am that crafty Mom!! I like being in charge of the school craft, because I want the kids to be able to bring something home that is memorable and will last for many years. A few years ago, my Mom came to visit me right before the holidays. She brought some pipe-cleaners and tri-beads with her and she and my boys sat at the kitchen happily creating ornaments for hours! (The candy cane with red pipe-cleaner and all clear beads came from that year, I think!). These simple bead ornaments are easy enough for 4 and 5 year olds to manage. They will just need help cutting the pipe cleaners and bending the ends over to secure the beads.
Here are a few versions of candy canes that you can make....go crazy!!
All you need to get started are plastic tri-beads. Some stores call them propeller beads. They can be found in most craft stores, but I find that Hobby Lobby usually has the best selection of colors and sizes (and about every second week they go on sale for half price!) You'll also need some pipe cleaners (chenille stems if you're fancy!) in red or white.
Just cut the pipe cleaners in half (I like to use wire cutters to avoid dulling my scissors). Then use needle-nose pliers (found in your hubby's tool kit or at Home Depot or in the Jewelry making section of the craft store) to bend over the very end of the pipe cleaner stem. This will stop the beads from falling off the end of your candy cane. Then let the kids add the beads in any pattern they want to make their candy cane. The beads interlock as they go on, making it easy for the kids. When they are at the end of their stem, use the pliers to turn the last bit of wire into a tight loop to close the end. Then help them turn over the end of their stem to make a candy cane shape. I don't bother making a ribbon hanger for these ornaments, I think they look cute just hung over the branches of the tree.
Feel free to add a bow if you like! So cute. I literally have about 20 of these on my tree and we add a few more each year. If you are going to do this with a large group of kids (like at a class party), I would highly recommend making up kits with the pipe cleaners pre-cut with the end already turned under, ready to start putting beads on. Each candy cane takes about 60 beads total. When I did these last year, I just used small zip lock bags and counted out beads for each child. It made the actual craft day go pretty smoothly. The first grade kids had these done in about 10-15 minutes.
Some other variations on this theme are snowflakes and green trees. For the snowflakes, I used a half length of pipe cleaner for each arm (so 1 1/2 pipecleaners). I just twisted the 3 pieces in the middle to create my snowflake form. Then add plastic beads in the same pattern for each arm (I used some long skinny ones in the middle, then 2 round, then a large paddle/snowflake/ then another round). You can use any type of beads to make these snowflakes and try different patterns of stringing them. Don't forget to place a ribbon through the loop you create on one of the ends as you are folding them all under at the end to make a hanger for your ornament! Another cute variation is to use small green beads on a green pipe-cleaner to make a spiral tree. Once they are all on, twist the pipe cleaner into a coil and then pull it out a bit at the bottom. Yay for cute bead ornaments. These are so fun to make, super easy for parties and easy on the budget. Enjoy!!