Binary Beading – SCOPES-DF

Lesson Details

Age Ranges
Fab Tools
3.OA.D8, 3.NBT.A1, 4.OA.C5, 4.NBT.A1, 5.NBT.A1, 6.EE.A1

You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.


CITC Fab Lab
CITC Fab Lab
Informal educator
We are Cook Inlet Tribal Council’s Fabrication Lab. We are based out of Anchorage Alaska serving Alaska Native and American Indian students based in the Anchorage school district. We teach design, building, and fabrication with a cultural emphasis. Our different… Read More


Learn to bead and learn binary at the same time. Use the ASCII table to bead your name in binary.

What You'll Need

  • Beads (multiple colors) – Younger students will need larger beads
  • String (we use a stretchy bead and jewelry cord) – String diameter should be appropriate for bead size
  • Tape (optional)
  • Included worksheets (optional)
  • Jewelry clasps (optional)


The Instructions


Describes the basis of the binary number system and how this project will interact with it.

The depth you go into on the math of binary will greatly depend on the age and abilities of your students. Use as much or as little as needed. Even young students can use the ASCII table to make a “secret code” out of their beads.


Take a moment to think about numbers. How many single digit numbers are there? You are correct if you said 10 as we have numbers 0 through 9. Our number system is said to be base 10 as we have 10 digits. We use place values to make compound numbers with place values. If we are counting, we start with 0, then 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and then we put a 1 in the tens place and 0 in the ones place and start the process all over again for the ones.


There are number systems other than base 10 and you are already used to some. Where in your life have you experienced counting systems where you didn’t get a larger type of number until before or after 10?


How many seconds do you have to count before you have counted 1 minute? How many minutes before you get to 1 hour? How many hours before you get to one day? How many days to get to one year? These are all examples that show slightly different number systems.


Computers use a different number system too. They use binary which is a number system with only 2 digits, 0 and 1. We call it base 2. Computers operate by using tiny little transistors called logic gates. You can think of logic gates as light switches. The switch is either in the on position (electricity is flowing through it) or of (electricity is not flowing through it).


Computer take strings of logic gate positions and convert them into characters. Characters can range from simple computer instructions to characters we can see on screen such as punctuation marks, letters, and numbers. The characters, their associated patterns of 1’s and 0’s, and their base 10 equivalent can be found on an ASCII (pronounced ‘ask key’) table of values.


We are going to use the ASCII table to bead our names. Depending on the size of your beads this could be bracelet or a necklace. You can also add decorative beads around your binary name to increase the length.

Create a Blueprint

Make a blueprint for your beading using an ASCII table.

Start by looking at the beads and determining what colors you will use. You will need one color to represent 1’s and another color to represent 0’s. You also have the option of have a spacer bead between each letter (highly recommended) that is not the same color as your 1’s and 0’s. You can also use a fourth color for a bead to indicate the space between your names or you can use the binary value for a space character.


Look at the ASCII table and the binary beading guide. Write your name, one letter at a time, in the CHARACTER column. Leave a space between your names. Then use the ASCII table to find the binary number that goes with each character in your name. Lower case and capital letters have different values. This is your beading blueprint.


Add up the numbers of 1’s and write the sum at the bottom of the page. Add up the number of 0’s and write the total at the bottom of the page.

Select Supplies

Have students select supplies after they have created their blueprints.

For the beading portion of this project, you will need a string that is longer than you want the bracelet or necklace to be. It is possible to cut the string later but it is much more difficult to add string if you cut it too short.


You will also need beads. Use the totals you wrote at the bottom of your guide to help you select beads. Also, grab beads for between letters, for spaces, and any extra beads, if you decided to use them.



It is helpful to tape one end of your string to your table so that you don’t accidently move your string too much and lose all of your beading.


Get Your Bead On

Do the beading according to the blueprints.

Tape down one side of your string. Add one bead at a time to the string. Follow your blueprint. It is recommended that you cross of or put a check next to each letter as you complete it so that you don’t accidently bead the same letter twice. Don’t cross the letters off too heavily or it is difficult to go through and check your work.