Beacon Lesson Plan Library

A String of Beads

Cheryl Stanley


This lesson will allow students to visualize (through constructing a necklace) a plan for including the central idea, supporting facts, and a clincher sentence in a paragraph.


The student selects and uses appropriate pre-writing strategies, such as brainstorming, graphic organizers, and outlines.


-One long piece of string…a shoestring works nicely.
-Several brightly colored stringable beads (at least three of each color, at least three colors). Large beads such as the ones you might find in the preschool learning section of your local department store or any educational supply store work very nicely. The kit I use was in the mathematics section of an educational supply store and consists of several colors of bears (complete with holes in their tummies) and a yellow cord to string them on.
-One preconstructed necklace This necklace should have at least three beads of the same color which have been pre-strung. The ends of the string should be tied together.

-One copy of the graphic organizer for each student (see attached file)
-Colored pencils or pens (at least 3 colors each)
-A list of paragraph topics (related to the subject you are studying)
-Scoring rubric (see attached file) one for each student


1. Purchase the teacher materials needed from the materials list.
2. Run off the organizer provided in the attachments. (one for each student)
3. Run off the rubric provided in the attachments. (one for each student )
3. Construct one necklace.
4. Make a list of paragraph topics the students may choose from


1. With beads and string nearby and a pre-constructed necklace in hand, tell students that a paragraph is organized very much like a small necklace.

2. Hold up the necklace and ask the students to brainstorm and examine its parts.

3. Ask them what they notice about the organization of the necklace. (You might ask a student to record the response on the board as the rest of the class brainstorms ideas.) You will get responses such as the following:
a. The string goes through all the beads.
b. It is long enough to go around your neck.
c. All the beads are the same color (or shape).
d. The string is tied in a knot.
Answers will, of course, depend on your individual pre-constructed necklace and on your students’ creativity.

4. Hold up the necklace and point out to students that a paragraph must be constructed much like this necklace. Ask them to look at the graphic organizer included in the attached files.

5. Using these two visuals (necklace and graphic organizer), stress each of the following points.

a. The string must go through the entire necklace and hook it together
just as the topic sentence must tie the paragraph together.
b. If the string doesn’t go through the beads, the beads cannot be part
the necklace. Similarly, if the developmental sentences do not tie into
the topic sentence, they cannot be part of the paragraph.
c. Just as the string in the necklace must be long enough to go all the
way around the neck, the topic sentence must cover everything in the
d. All of the beads are the same color (or shape), and all of the
sentences in the paragraph must cover related material.
e. More matching beads make a more interesting necklace, and more
developmental sentences make a more interesting paragraph.
f. Both ends of the string must be tied together, just as the topic sentence
and clincher (concluding) sentence tie the paragraph together.

6. Using the extra string and using different beads, explain to students how they might make a more interesting necklace while still having a planned and organized design. Construct a new necklace with the extra string and beads. Brainstorm possible ways to add interest to the necklace but maintain the basic design. Demonstrate some of the following variations, depending on your selection of beads. You could mention some of the following possibilities.
a. Use the same size or same shape beads, but vary the color.
b. Use all the same color beads, but vary the size or shape.
c. Use more beads.

7. Ask students to brainstorm how they might make the sentences in their paragraphs more creative. Some of the following things might be mentioned.
a. More description
b. Longer sentences
c. Examples
d. Varying sentence types

8. Read a short paragraph from the material you have been studying in class (or any pre-selected text) and ask students to think about this paragraph as a necklace and to identify its parts.

9. Ask students to label the analyzed paragraph and write the parts on the graphic organizer provided. (See attached file.)

10. (Optional) Provide students with another short paragraph and ask them to draw their own necklace, color the beads, and label them to fit the paragraph.

11. Provide students with a list of paragraph topics and ask them to keep the organization of the necklace in mind using it as an outline as they construct a paragraph on one of the topics.

12. Tell students that you will be evaluating the organization of their paragraphs on a scoring rubric. (See attached file.)

13. Give copies of the rubric to all students and ask them to return them with their paragraphs.

14. (Optional) Ask students to draw and color necklaces which represent their paragraphs.

15. (Optional) Ask students to share their necklaces with the class and explain how they fit the paragraph they wrote.


Students will use a rubric to plan the construction of a paragraph which includes a topic sentence, developmental sentences, and a concluding sentence.


Upper elementary classes can participate in this lesson using cardboard animals with the developmental sentences written on them. They can use clothes pins and fasten them to clothes lines (topic sentences) strung in the room. The animals must be placed on the string (topic sentence) they best fit.

The necklaces which the students construct(paper rubrics, or real necklaces) can be hung in the room to remind the students of the parts of a paragraph.

Attached Files

Graphic Organizer "A String of Beads"     File Extension: pdf

Rubric for "A String of Beads"     File Extension: pdf

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