Today I’m going to share an idea to help you make it through the last few days of school holidays- making bean bags. For someone who never even got around to finishing a pencil case in year 8 home ec, I was pretty proud of my efforts and can truly say that this is a simple sewing project (admittedly, I needed to brush up on my knowledge of how to set up the sewing machine before this project could even begin!)
I made little palm-sized bean bags. Firstly you’ll need to cut out the fabric (old clothes/sheets or blankets make great material for bean bags, and add sentimental value) If your child has mastered cutting along a straight line, then this would be a perfect opportunity to involve them. I cut mine into rectangles (18cmx 10cm) so I wouldn’t have to sew along one edge, but if you cut squares of fabric ( 9cmx9cm) then you can get creative and use different material for the front and back. You could even sew on letters of your child’s name on the front of each bag, or numbers, shapes etc.
Sew up two sides, leaving the top open. I went along twice just to strengthen the seams.
Cut the corners off (careful not to cut the thread) so that it will be easier to poke the corners out once you turn it inside out
Turn the bag inside out, making sure you’ve pushed the corners out with something pointy like a pencil. Now it’s ready for filling. I used rice, but you can use a variety of dried beans, grains, soup pasta or even sand to create a different sensory experience. I poured mine straight in but some people like to put the filling into a zip-lock bag first to prevent the filling from attracting moisture and going mouldy. Make sure you leave enough space to turn the top seam in. This is a step that your child can definitely help you with, and if you’re not afraid of a little mess, then let them use their hands to put the filling into the bags- even better if you’re using different textured filling!
Turn the top edges of the bag inside and pin closed. Sew shut, removing the pins as you go.
Now that you’ve got all these special made-it-yourself bean bags, here’s a couple of ideas of what you can do with them:
The classic bean bag toss game: Get your child to collect lots of different sized ‘goals’ (eg. Boxes, food storage containers, pots, buckets, hoops, waste paper bins) and place them at varying distances from the throwing line. Make signs with the point score for each container (your child can practice cutting and writing skills for this). You can also get them to write up a score sheet on butchers paper or an easel (tracing/writing their name and their score) and older children can help to tally up the scores.
Bean Bag Head Balance: Child stands up straight, feet together, with their arms extended (straight down in front of their body) with palms facing upwards. With the beanbag balanced on top of their head, the child is to tip ONLY their chin downwards and try to catch the beanbag in their extended hands. There should be NO MOVEMENT of the body other than their head, make sure they don’t tip their whole body forwards.
If they master forwards, try placing hands behind back and tipping chin upwards, catching the bean bag behind them.
We use this activity in the clinic to help children integrate their tonic labrinthe reflex (a primitive reflex that can cause problems with balance, posture, muscle tone or head control if present beyond 3 years of age) but it’s also a great activity to promote body awareness and postural control.
There are countless activities that could use a bean bag- all you need is a little bit of imagination!