Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Love Connects Us: A Program on Living in Unitarian Universalist Covenant for Grades 4-5

Activity 5: Make Knotted Meditation Beads

Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Hemp or silk cord
  • Beads, large enough to string on hemp or silk cord
  • Shallow containers for all participants to contain their beads
  • Scissors
  • Optional: Quiet music, and music player

Preparation for Activity

  • Cut hemp or silk cord into 18-inch strands-one for each participant, plus a few extra.
  • Calculate how many beads you will need. Get enough for each participant to string about eight inches of cord. Choose beads so each participant's knotted strand can include a single bead distinct from the others in size, shape, or texture.
  • Set out strands of cord, a selection of beads, and a shallow container for each participant. (You may wish to pre-select groups of beads and fill all the shallow containers in advance.)
  • Optional: Set up music player and queue the music you want to play.
  • Optional: Make a strand of knotted beads beforehand, to show the group.

Description of Activity

People have used beads for centuries to facilitate meditation and prayer. Catholics may handle rosary beads to mark repeated prayers; Buddhists may use malas, strings of 108 beads, to aid meditation. The children make knotted strands of beads and try using them in a meditation to find inner peace-an activity that reinforces the "tied-together" theme of the curriculum.

To create the strand, knot one end of the cord. Make a knot large enough to prevent a bead from slipping off. String the first bead-it should be one with a texture, size, or shape distinct from the other beads that will follow. Then, tie another knot as close as possible to the bead.

Continue adding beads, each followed by a knot, until the strand reaches the desired length. You may leave the beads in a knotted strand, or tie the two ends of cord together to form a circle of beads. Trim excess cord.

When all have completed a knotted strand of beads, show them a way to use the beads in meditation: Have participants begin with the unique bead-the one they placed first on the strand. Instruct them to take the bead between two fingers and inhale, then turn the bead as they exhale. Repeat the process of inhaling while taking the bead between two fingers and exhaling as they turn the bead with each bead on the strand. Or, invite them to repeat a mantra, such as the word "peace," each time they turn a bead.

After participants have had the opportunity to meditate using the beads, invite them to reflect on how the beads might be useful to them in finding inner peace.


Depending on the makeup of the group, stringing the beads can be a meditative experience in itself. You may wish to play quiet music or encourage quiet focus in another way while children make their knotted strands.

Including All Participants

Participants who lack manual dexterity may need larger beads and stiffer cord. Be ready to help a participant; invite them to choose the beads they want on their strand, and string and knot the strand for them.