We have been making this for over a decade. CD case (pop out the center and take out the paper) + magnets (glue gunned to the BACK- check which side of the case has the HOLE) + lots of elmers and beads = awesomeness!
I learned early on to pick a color theme and preselect a bowlful of beads. I love using thriftstore found necklaces for this. I start with pony beads, tri beads, whatever. Put the elmers on and let the kiddo place the beads. Have a wet wipe handy or they inevitably wipe glue on their pants.
As they add beads the window morphs shape and just stop them before it is too small. I usually do it over several days. I had a bad experience with some old zip drive cases – for some reason they glued shut! I had never had that happen with cd or dvd jewel cases.
I like to pour tiny seed beads or pearls in the center window and tilt the case to make them stick to the inner edge of the glue around the “window” opening.
Day 2 we go back and add some smaller beads and fill in gaps. Same on day three maybe. And give it a good couple days to dry. You can go back and peel off glue drips. The glue dries clear but try to keep smears off the window opening. Then just open it to add a photo – which can be changed out. These make impressive (and cheap!) gifts. We once made one in shades of white for a teacher getting married – was a hit! This is something I usually keep a few on hand in the gift box (wrapped in bubblewrap).