Introduction: Story Telling Beads for Teaching

After learning about memory and in class, I really wanted something that could make using mnemonics more fun and relatable. I tried different apps but eventually got an idea from Rory's Story Telling Cubes and different story cards like these which are for parties.

I came up with memory beads that would be

  • really simple
  • shaped according to personality and things I like
  • be something everyone is into (accessories like bangles, bracelets and or even glasses)
  • encourage creativity
  • use multiple cues from things around me to improve specific memory traces by constant exposure.
  • be discrete
  • can be carried anywhere (even exams)

The beads can be made in any way and can be used to make anything from bangles, to necklaces or pencil cases. :D . The ones I made are basic to help my little cousins learn facts easily.

I used a 3D printer but, younger children could use clay, paper or even engrave beads they already have.

I want to make some for men using leather straps and darker colors soon for myself and some mates.

Step 1: List of Items

1. 3D printer (feel free to use another material. Check out this site for all sorts!)

2. Essential Oils or Perfumes

3. Embroidery thread

4. Tinker CAD

5. Fur

Step 2: Setting Up TinkerCAD

As I said before, feel free to use any material out there for your beads. We will use a 3D printer here.

First, open the TinkerCAD website and make an account.

Very short 1 or so minute tutorials will show you how to get around. You can skip them if you want

Step 3: Basic Flat Bead

Once you are ready, go to your dashboard and start a new project. Then;

Go to the shape selector and pick the shape you will use for your bead from the different groups.

There are many system and community shapes. I picked the dice shape from the 'Symbols' group.

Drag this to the your work space and make it have the following dimensions:

width = 15mm, length=15mm, height=6mm.

Make a new cylinder and make it have the hole property selected

(should look transparent with cross section lines).

Reshape it so that it has:

width=3mm, length=3mm, height=30mm.

Reposition it using the angle handles . Then, place it in the center above your bead by dragging it.

(Use the 'Top' option on the view cube to help make this easier).

Press 'W', then click on the left most flat face of your cube to work vertically.

Click the cylinder and drag it around till it sits in the center of the bead

(Use the 'Front' option on the view cube to make this easier)

Select the cube and cylinder by pressing 'control' and 'A' at the same time on your keyboard. Then, press 'control' and 'G' at the same time to group them and make your first bead.

Step 4: Finding SVGs

The pictures must correspond to a list of peg words for numbers or letters. Basically, anything that we can find around the house or outside easily.

They can also relate to story telling cues found around the house or class e.g cat, shoe, pencil.

Find as many as possible in 'svg' (Scalable Vector Graphics) form.

If you can draw them out with a program, great! Here's my go to site for when I wanna draw.

If you have some ordinary pictures then go to this site to convert it to svg if possible.

If like me, your art skills need a little refurbishing, check out and other sites which have amazing artists and allow usage of their works for non-commercial purposes or at a really small fee for commercial works.

In the pictures above, I downloaded the 'fly me to the moon' svg zip file from

Step 5: Adding the Pictures

Click import in the top right corner.

Browse or drag and drop to find your file and insert it. The object created will be quite large.

Size it down by dragging the corners to appropriate dimensions that can snuggly in the bead.

Change its height to 10mm.

The width and length are up to you, but 16mm each is a good start.

Step 6: Engraving Your Beads

Change its object property to hole and position it above your bead

Position it in the center by dragging it around.

Press 'W' to change the workspace to vertical again by clicking the left most side of your bead.

Reposition the image so that it does not cut very close to the middle hole

Press 'control' and 'A', then 'control' and 'G'

Turn the bead over using the angle handle at the side.

Add another image and engrave following the same steps

Go nuts with different designs and images. It is more of a trial and error process to get good beads that you can stuff with enough fabric and scents in the next step.

Step 7: 3D Printing

Go back to your dashboard by pressing the Tinker CAD logo.

Click on your project to open a dialogue box. Scroll down and find the 'Download for 3D printing' or the 'Order 3D print' buttons.

For downloading, click the stl. button for a format that you can take on a flash drive to the 3D printer.

At the printers. Open the program intended for use with your printer.

I used Former as we had the Form 2 printer at college.

Select what resin you want (plastic type and color) and what version it is (tells you on the resin box).

Drag and drop your file into the work space and click generate supports.

Rotate the object around with your mouse keys and spot out any errors or changes you want to make.

Step 8: Adding Texture and Scent.

This is the fun bit! Supply time.

Find anything and grab as many tools and ingredients as you or the children can think of.

I used yarn and feathers for this.

You can dip your fabric in essential oils or spray with perfume. I used lavender oil.

I made a key-chain but you could do anything with the beads as with any crafting item (which was one of the goals)

The key-chain's pattern was random and it took some trials to get something that looked decent ._.

Step 9: Usage

On a Monday, my uncle Steve had to buy: butter, candy, carpet cleaner, razors, soap, bread, and carrots.

So, he made up a story.

In his mind, he planted a butter seed, that grew into a carpeted tree with razors for leaves that had orange soap bubble fruit. When these fell, the bubbles came together to make well risen fluffy carrot bread.

So you should, start with any bead and use the pictures, scents, and feel of your bracelet to tell your story.

3 could be shaped like a heart, or the amygdala of the brain feels fury and smells like pine cones.

Now that you have connected what you want to learn with vivid senses, try your best to recall what you stored when you see a similar shape, feel a familiar texture or smell your perfume.

You may not feel it, but your brain will be studying on the go by consolidating its memory traces using exposure to the cues surrounding you daily that have now been linked to specific topics - which is how learning works. (I think)

You still have to put in the work though :)

Step 10: Last Words

The beads help speed the learning process in a more fun and interactive way. Having the beads nearby during a test also aids with retrieval as it helps to make the scene more similar to the time you were studying. (slightly)

Modern learning is often boring for some because it calls for only one sense at a time e.g read this book. Since learning and good memory are often paired together, we should make the formation of memories more interactive so that new path ways form faster.

Hope ya'll can mess around with the idea and figure out better ways to aid memory.

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