Bead Trading Post

Lesson submitted by teachers Michelle Anderson (5th grade), Susan Anderson (Art), Jo Holen (1st grade), and Jaque Horvat of Northeast Range School.

This activity accompanied beading projects that were done in our classroom. When it was time to calculate and list the color of beads that students needed, we decided to create not only a system to manage the beads, but a way to continue learning concepts. The idea of a trading post was a great opportunity to use what the students have been learning about in CGI math and also have a part in collecting and controlling their art materials.

Materials Needed


Art Materials


Activity Process


We explained that in preparation for our beading project (this activity typically accompanies a separate beading project), we were going to pretend that we had a trading post in our room. Students would determine the beads they need for their project, then write up an order sheet of needed beads and trade their order sheet for the beads at the trading table. To help manage stray beads, I shared a story our Indian education coordinator told me - that master beaders in the Ojibwe culture think of each bead as having a little spirit and therefore we need to take care of each bead. "That means if your beads spill, we take the time to pick them up and also to help our neighbor if they should spill their beads."


For an order sheet, we had the students write the beads needed on color Post-it notes. With the help of two student volunteers at the Bead Trading Post, I demonstrated the activity steps and modeled good manners, using Ojibwe greetings (Boozoo or Aaniin and Miigwech) and numbers/colors.


  1. Students determine the number and color beads needed for their beading project (separate bead plan/grid).
  2. Students write the colors and corresponding numbers of beads on their order sheet (ex: count all the blue squares and write the color blue with the corresponding number on the Post-it note, and repeat for the other colors).
  3. Two students volunteer (or are assigned) to help out at the Bead Trading Post table (students can rotate if there's interest).
  4. Students bring their order sheets one at a time to the Bead Trading Post to trade them in for beads (provided in Ziplock bags). They exhibit good manners, saying "Boozhoo" and "Miigwech" to the Bead Trading Post keepers, and are encouraged to use other Ojibwe language in their trading interactions (see vocabulary words below).
  5. Once the Bead Trading Post students have filled orders, they have their own orders filled.
  6. All students commence with their beading projects.


Students were excited about rotating as a worker in the Bead Trading Post. This activity really made the process of material prep an enjoyable and educational procedure. Students were careful with their beads and really showed respect in speaking kind words in Ojibwe to the trading post keepers. They liked the role-playing.


Students collected the correct number of beads for their work. They were able to practice Ojibwe words for greetings (Boozoo or Aaniin and Miigwech) and numbers/colors as well.

Vocabulary Words


This activity can be used for any art and culture project in the classroom.

Grade Levels

Primary Content Area

American Indian Learner Outcomes

Content Standards