Bean bags are easy to make. They can be sewn by hand or on a machine. It’s an easy way to recycle the legs that are cut off of worn blue jeans when they are turned into cut-off shorts. It’s also a way to recycle broken Mardi Gras beads or aquarium gravel.
To make bean bags from jeans, cut off the hem, and cut the rest of the leg into squares. Turn the tube inside out. Sew one end of the tube completely shut, and sew half of the other end. Turn right side out and fill the bag with broken Mardi Gras beads, stale popcorn, stale rice, aquarium gravel, plastic pellets or beans. If the bag is filled with plastic or gravel, the bags won’t begin to grow if they are left outside in the rain. Turn the cut edges in, and sew the rest of the seam shut.
Bags can also be made by sewing two squares of a sturdy fabric. If the fabric is brightly colored, it will be easier to find them when they are tossed into bushes or on the lawn.
If sewing by hand, make sure the stitches are smaller than the pellets being used for filler. It’s a good idea to sew seams twice to make them extra sturdy.
There are a lot of games that can be played with bean bags: Hot Potato, Button Button, Hop Scotch, and Defend Your Treasure.
To play Defend Your Treasure, have one person as “it”. It guards the bean bag that is on the ground at their feet. The other players gather in a circle around It. They try to get the bean bag. If It tags them, they have to freeze in place until the round is over. The round is over when someone gets the bag and becomes It for the next round, or when all the players are frozen, and It gets a second round. This game goes well with a lesson about standing up for what you believe in, as the bean bag can be compared to a value or ethic system. It also teaches team work because it is easier to get the bag when someone else is distracting It’s attention.
Bags can also be tossed at targets. Lay a hula hoop on the ground for a large target, or a lid from an ice cream bucket for a smaller target. Combine the two: the lid inside the hoop, and assign a higher point value for getting the bag into the area. The lid can be worth five points, the hoop, two points, and a leaner that touches the outside edge of the hoop can be one point. At least half the bag has to be inside the target to get the points.
If the playing area has a shuffle board court, but no equipment, the triangle can be used for a tossing target. A target can also be made by cutting holes into the side of a cardboard box. Draw animals on the box, using the hole for an open mouth.
Teenagers can use bean bags for a variation on skeet shooting. Have one player toss a Frisbee into the air. Another player throws a bean bag at the Frisbee to try to knock it down. Other players cover the outfield, retrieving the Frisbee and bags. Whatever they pick up is what they get to throw the next time.
If the playing area has a wall or wooden fence, line up empty water bottles or soda cans and knock them down with the bags.
Bags can be used for relay races. A player balances the bag on their head, and walks to a turnaround spot. Then they take the bag off the head and run back to the beginning line. Hand off the bag to the next player.
Because bean bags can be used to play so many games, it is a good item for after school care and youth groups to have on hand.
(c) Paula Hrbacek Please link to the article instead of reposting it. For reprint rights, contact the author at http://paulahrbacek.weebly.com/