My Mom is visiting & one of the fun benefits for the kids is her excellent memory of the crafts she used to entertain me with when I was a kid in the 70's (that, and endless rounds of "Bataille"/War and Solitaire). This time she brought out the paper beads.
I have such vivid memories of making these for hours on end at the kitchen table. Full of the kind of patience only a child could muster. Cutting the triangles of paper just so, wrapping them carefully around a toothpick, and finishing them off with a good slathering of glue to secure them. Once completely dry I would paint them, and string them up, or just leave them as-is if the paper was particularly pretty. I loved sorting and classifying them by size, patter, color, and even just the feel of them over-flowing from my hands when I'd scoop them up.
Paper University has a good tutorial where they use straws instead of toothpicks, which will be much easier for smaller kids, if you'd like to try this one out as well.