We began studying World and American History in September with an introduction to early civilizations and early means of trade. Specifically, we talked about the Iroquois American Indian tribe and their use of the Wampum Bead as a method for trade. Then we made our own homemade version. Here’s how:
- 2 c. flour
- 1 c. salt
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 c. water
Mix it all together until it forms a dough like paste. Let it sit for about 30 minutes (it should have a semi-hard crust). Pull different sized chunks from the dough and roll, flatten, or shape into beads as desired. Poke pencil-sized wholes in each one for threading onto string or wire. Bake the beads on a cookie sheet for 10-15 minutes at your oven’s lowest setting. You want the beads to harden. If your oven is taking too long, turn it up. It’s OK if your beads turn a light brown because you will be painting them. When your beads are done, allow them to cool before painting them. It may help to set the cookie sheet by a open window if it is cold outside.
Painting your beads is a lot of fun and is the perfect way to let younger children explore colors and patterns. While historically, wampum beads were mainly purple and white, some say that they also used red and black beads as well. We painted our beads in various colors and patterns because we are just too creative for our own good.