Bean Bag Gaming

With all the electronic entertainment bombarding our children, it's sometimes difficult to find fun activities that can compete for their attention, especially without spending a fortune to do so. But there are a few traditional toys that are tried-and-true and still pack a punch today.

One of my favorites is the bean bag.

The materials themselves don't get much simpler or less expensive. A little fabric and a handful of beans or rice is all you need. If you don't sew, you can make them with socks and close off the end with a rubber band. If you have a bit more crafty talent, you can make them out of themed fabric, or apply numbers or letters to the bean bags for additional gaming rules. A few added props such as laundry baskets or bowls and the options are almost endless.

The games you can play are as uncomplicated as the bean bags themselves. They're safe, simple, and versatile. Here are just a few ideas:


Bean bag toss:
Simple game of catch using bean bags. This is a great game for younger players to build hand-eye coordination without requiring the dexterity needed to handle a round ball. Pick a short distance and gently toss the bean bag back and forth. If the bean bags have numbers (or letters) on them, have the players say the numbers as they toss them.

Bean bag double toss:
Give each player a bean bag. Both players toss their bean bag at the same time and try to catch the bean bag thrown by the other player.

Target practice 1:
Scatter a few baskets or bowls on the floor and assign a point value to each one. Toss the bean bags into the baskets and add up the points. Alternatively, use masking tape to draw lines on the floor, or to tape down paper targets.

Target practice 2:
Line up a series of empty aluminum cans and plastic bottles along a flat surface. Label the empty containers with a number for a point value. Toss the bean bags at the targets and knock them down to accumulate points.

Hide and seek:
One player hides the bean bags, the other searches for them. For more interaction, the player who hid the bean bags can say "hotter" or "colder" to indicate to the other player if they're getting close.

Marco Polo:
Tie a blindfold onto both players. Give one player the bean bags, and the other player a basket. Spin both players. The player with the bean bags says, "Marco," and the player with the basket responds with "Polo." The player with the bean bags tries to toss them into the basket, based upon the sounds made by the other player.

Bean bag hopscotch:
Use chalk to draw a hopscotch court on the driveway. Toss a bean bag to mark a skip. If you're trapped indoors, masking tape works great for outlining the court.

If you have hardwood or smooth tile floors, these make great surfaces for an adhoc shuffleboard court. Use masking tape or cans to mark the borders of the court. Give each player 3 bean bags which they slide down the court to score points.

Two or more players:

Balancing relay:
A player places a bean bag on a their nose and balance it while walking a short distance and dropping the bean bag into a basket, without ever touching it with their hands. If they drop the bean bag or touch it with their hands, they have to go back to the starting position and try again.

Hot Potato:
Sit the players on the floor in a circle. Give each player a bean bag, with one of the bean bags being red. Start a musical tune and have the players toss their bean bag to the player next to them as quickly as they can. Stop the music randomly. When the music stops, the player with the red bean bag steps out of the circle. As a consolation, that player could be put in charge of the music for a turn.

Balancing act:
Place a bean bag on top of the player's head. Have them do a series of actions while keeping the bean bag balanced on their head. Suggested actions are: turn in a circle, touch their toes, hop on one foot, crawl, deep-knee bend, animal imitations, sit and scoot on a skateboard, etc. The added bonus of this activity is the hidden exercise.

Dodge bag:
Place a few players inside a ring of other players. Have the players on the outside toss bean bags at the players on the inside while the players on the inside try to dodge the bean bags.

Bean bag tag:
One player is "it." That player chases the other players and tags another player "it" by tossing and tagging them with a bean bag.

These are just a few of the many great activities you can do with a couple of simple bean bags. You'll probably find as you play some of these games that they morph into new ones without really trying. What a great way to get your little ones away from the electronics, while sharing some laughs and getting a little exercise at the same time!

If you have some ideas for bean bag games that you've enjoyed, drop me a note or leave a comment to share!

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