DIY | Milk Jug Lid Beads

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Overview

Over 26 years of running early learning programs, we collected millions of plastic jug lids. Whole milk lids, 1% milk lids, 2% milk lids, skim milk lids, chocolate milk lids, orange juice lids, and lemonade lids, not to mention plastic lids from lots of other containers. Maybe we exaggerate–it probably wasn’t millions of lids.

We used these lids for sensory play and craft projects and as loose parts, but one of our favorite ideas was to transform them into colorful, durable, inexpensive, and easy to make lacing beads. Here’s how:

Supplies

You’ll need:

  • A bunch of milk jug lids, the more colors the better
  • Cordless drill with 1/4 inch bit
  • Piece of scrap wood

Process

Use the drill to carefully bore a hole in the center of each lid. Do your drilling on a piece of scarp wood to protect your work surface. If you’re uncomfortable with power tools, find someone proficient in their use to handle the drilling.

We found that drilling at slow speed with moderate downward pressure resulted in the cleanest holes. If you end up with a rough hole, you can use a utility knife to clean it up or twist off the rough bits with a pair of pliers.

Learning

Children will improve their small muscle skills and hand-eye coordination as they string milk jug lid beads. In addition, stringing beads can help develop sequencing, pattern recognition, color recognition, and counting skills.

Variations

  • Vary the hole size. Beads with a wider hole will be easier for younger children to string and smaller holes will challenge experienced bead stringers a bit more.
  • Add variety by using different kinds of lids to make beads.
  • Create a pattern of milk jug lid beads on one string and challenge children to repeat it on another string.
  • String a bunch of lids onto a piece of twine and secure both ends to create a milk jug lid “snake”. We had such snakes around our family child care for years that were loved by kids of all ideas.
  • Use a variety of materials for lacing: yarn, leather lace, nylon twine, bamboo skewers, kite string, etc.

Bonus Idea

Plastic Lid Lacing Card

Drill multiple holes in larger plastic lids to create lacing cards.

Conclusion

If you give this project a try, we’d love to see photos and hear how it goes in the comments below. You’ll find more DIY lacing ideas here. If you’re looking for handmade wooden lacing toys, please check out what we have available at Explorations Early Learning Toys (save 15% with SAVE15).

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Author

Jeff A Johnson

I'm an early learning speaker, podcaster, content creator, author, and founder of Playvolution HQ and Explorations Early Learning.

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Annie Hosking

I have used a hole punch for this, the kind for making holes in leather belts. It leaves a clean hole and worked well on thinner bottle tops. I didn’t have a cordless drill at the time.