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Activity Center: Making a Rosary

Mary: The Yes That Changed the World
An Intergenerational Event

Families will hand-make their own string of rosary beads.

  Download Rosary Activity Center Handout
To print:  1 per family
Three-page download for this activity center includes a set of step-by-step instructions and a diagram for assembling a rosary.

Before You Begin:
Good organization is the key to success in this activity center. Recruit several volunteers well ahead of time. Those with beading or other handiwork experience will be especially valuable for assembling the kits, setting up the work space, and helping participants at the activity center. It will also be vital to have volunteers who pray the Rosary regularly. Their devotion and knowledge will be wonderful assets.

Please encourage the coordinator of this activity center to make a practice rosary well before the event so that he or she can test the instructions and be certain that all materials are suitable.

Rosary Bead Kits (to be assembled before the event):
Place the following items in a plastic baggie or other container:

  • 53 beads of one color
  • 6 beads of another color
  • 1 crucifix
  • 3 feet of cord, with a dot marked at 6 inches from one end
  • Needle (optional: many types of cord are stiff enough to thread through beads without a needle, and other cords come with a needle-like wire pre-attached)
  • Toothpick (This is used to make tidy, well-placed knots. Alternatively, you could provide straight-nose beading tweezers.)

Note: It is very important that the holes of all 59 beads be the same size and that the cord is the right size for those holes. The beads should fit easily, but not loosely, on the cord.

At the Event:
Set up several work spaces stocked with the following items:

  • Rosary Activity Center Handout (3 pages), one for each family
  • Clear nail polish or craft glue (for securing knots), one container for every 10 families (Do not use instant adhesives like Superglue or Krazy Glue.)
  • Empty egg cartons for sorting beads (optional)

Note: Beads can be a choking hazard for young children. Please remind parents to be vigilant.

Tips for Gathering Materials

Pre-made Kits: If you are pressed for time, buying pre-made kits is an option. They are available online and from many Catholic book and religious supply stores. To find them online, type “rosary kits” into a search engine. Prices vary considerably.

Beads: Beads come in a dazzling variety of sizes, shapes, colors, and materials. Because there are so many styles of bead to choose from, you will be able to adapt your purchases to fit the needs and resources of your parish. The most important thing to keep in mind as you select beads is that the holes of all 59 beads should be the same size.

You can purchase your beads online or at a craft or specialty store. If purchasing online, type “beads” or “beading supplies” into search engine. If you are new to beading, you may wish to go to a craft or specialty store to purchase your beads. That way, you can see and compare all of the possible varieties of beads, and you will be able to ask advice from the people who work there.

Cord: The most common type of cord available in craft or specialty stores is made of waxed polyester thread. This type of cord is durable and inexpensive, but is not available in many colors other than black. If you would like to have a choice of colors, you may wish to purchase silk cord, which is also sturdy but more expensive than the polyester cord. Whichever variety of cord you choose, it should fit cleanly, but snugly through the bead.

Silk cord usually comes with a needle-like wire attached to it. The polyester cord usually does not. Before buying polyester or other bulk cord, try threading it through one of the beads you have chosen to see if it will thread through the hole without a needle. If it does not, you may need to provide participants with wires or needles to help them thread their beads.

Crucifix Medals: Most religious supply stores, and even many craft stores, will carry crucifixes and crosses suitable for rosary making. Different stores will call them by different names, so knowing some commonly used terms will help your search considerably. Religious suppliers tend to call them “crucifix medals,” but other suppliers will call them “crucifix charms,” “rosary crosses,” or “cross charms.”

When searching online (or even when calling local crafts stores), if you run into a dead end using one term, try another and another until you find success. You might also want to search online for pre-made rosary kits, because many kit suppliers will also sell pieces individually.

Rosary Resources: You may wish to provide some books on praying the Rosary for participants.

Note: The missions are often in need of rosaries. Consider asking families to each make one rosary for the missions in addition to their own during the event. Contact a missionary organization (e.g.: Catholic Extension Society, 800-842-7804; or Divine Word Missionaries, 847-272-7600) and arrange to send or deliver rosaries to them.