Bean bags—they’re little cloth bags filled with dried beans. But while they’re small in size, they are HUGE in fun! There is so much to love about bean bags.
They are inexpensive, take up a teeny amount of space in your home, come in every colour of the rainbow (and more!), and can be played with by so many age groups (the ideas below work well for anywhere from age three to 10). And bean bags can be used for a whole lot of games and activities.
Unlike a ball, bean bags won’t roll away when a child is working on their throwing or catching skills. Make your own bean bags or purchase them at your local toy, sports equipment, or craft store. Whether you have one or 10 bean bags, there are loads of activities your kids will love to play with them.
1. Balance and move
Bean bags can be balanced on so many body parts. See if your child can balance one on their head, their shoulder, their outstretched arm, or the front of their foot. Show your child how to get into a crab walk position and move with a bean bag balanced on their stomach.
Can your child walk slowly, quickly, or even run while balancing a bean bag? Ramp up the challenge and see if your child can walk on a balance beam, walk sideways, step over an object, or balance more than one bag at a time.
2. Target practice
Bean bags are a great item for your kids to use to practice the accuracy of their throws.
Use painter’s tape indoors or sidewalk chalk outdoors to make targets on the ground. If your kids are a bit older, assign a point value to each target and have your kids see if they can reach an agreed-upon total.
For toddlers, make targets a bit larger and have them stand a bit closer. As they get good at throwing the bags inside the targets, have them stand further away. Have your kids try throwing overhand and underhand.
Juggling with bean bags, as with any skill, takes a lot of practice. But again, your child might find it less frustrating than juggling balls as the bean bags won’t roll away if/when they drop them.
Have your child start with tossing up and catching one bean bag from one hand to the other. Once they have that figured out, have them hold a bean bag in each hand and throw them simultaneously from one hand to the other.
This might be enough for your kid! But, if they want to add a third, have them put two bean bags in one hand and one in the other. The third bag should be tossed quite high before throwing the next.
Check out one kid who has it down to a science!
And if your child is young, you can take some of the frustration out of learning to juggle by using balloons to start! Here’s how.
4. Hacky sack
It might have been old-school but it’s new-school again! Using a bean bag in place of a regular hackysack, have your child balance it on their foot and kick it up in the air. They then have to catch the bean bag with any part of their foot including the top, inside or outside.
How many times can they kick and catch it before it drops?
And for more fun hacky sack games, check out this free printable and article on how to use a hacky sack to develop physical literacy.
Can your child throw a bean bag into the air, perform a move, and catch it before it hits the floor?Have them throw it up and clap their hands once before catching it. Other activities that could be done include doing a jumping jack, touching their toes, or doing a star jump. See how creative they can be with their moves!
6. Can you catch it in a …
If your child has mastered throwing a bean bag in the air and catching it in their hand, have them switch it up by catching it in another item. Can they catch it in a beach pail, a shoe, a bag, or a basket?
7. Hot Potato
A classic party game played with a bean bag! Have a group of kids sit in a circle and get them to toss a bean bag from one child to the next. Play some fun music and at various intervals, pause it. Whoever has the “potato” when the music stops is out of the game.
8. Stepping stones
Bean bags are the perfect size for the little feet of kids practicing their balancing skills. Lay out a line of bean bags spaced closely together on the floor and have your child walk their way across them.
Once they conquer walking the line, try spacing the bean bags out further apart or have the line twist in multiple directions. Can they jump from bag to bag?
9. Bean bag and spoon race
Challenge your kids to this fun game of balance and speed (or slow methodical walking!). Provide your kids with a spatula or serving spoon (something large enough to balance a bean bag on). Have them balance the bean bag on the “spoon” and race against each other to a set spot.
If they drop their “egg,” they must go back to the beginning to start again (little ones can simply pick it up and continue from where they dropped). Change it up by having them walk backwards or walk around obstacles.
Have your child stand a few feet from a bowl and place a bean bag on the top of their foot. See if they can kick the bag off of their foot and into the bowl. As they master the move, have them stand further away from the bowl.
11. Bean bag jump tag
Depending on the speed you use to play this game, it’s fun for so many age groups! Have one child act as the “tagger” while the other kids stand about 10 feet away from them.
Give the tagger a number of bean bags and have them slide on the floor towards the players’ feet. The players must jump over the bean bag to avoid being tagged. The tagger can slide multiple bean bags in various directions as quickly as they’d like to keep players guessing.
12. The Amazing Elbow Trick
Bend your arm parallel to the floor with your hand pointing towards your shoulder and balance a bean bag on your elbow. When you have it balanced, flick your hand down and try to catch the bean bag before it hits the floor.