Thursday, May 26, 2011

Shape Bean Bags

Since we still have a zoo theme going on, I'll share one zoo game we used this week and then move onto something else.  :-)

Trend Enterprises, Inc. 
Not sure where I got this particular game from, most likely from a teacher's store or perhaps even a Scholastic Book Fair.  I love the real-life photo aspect.  This type of activity really helps them notice patterns also. 

I don't believe I've shared this particular shape bean bag set yet.  It gets quite a bit of use. 
I purchased this Educational Insights product and service bell from  We keep the service bell right in the bag with the bean bags.  Children are encouraged to state what shape and color they have and toss it toward the bell, making it ring.  It's not all that easy but they love the bell.  I think that I'm going to put creating various types of targets, specifically those that make noise, on my "to do" list.  :-)  One I have in mind is a box that has bells handing from ribbon so that it's a larger target and still provides that auditory reinforcement.  They love anything with bells.  :-)  I am open to any ideas that you all have!  I like this set because they use all the basic colors/shapes and have the word printed directly on the bean bag.  This makes it easy to slip in various literacy components.

We also have a set of plain bean bags from
This isn't the exact set but similar.  It looks like they are now selling a bean bag CD with their sets.  That's nice!  I haven't use this particular CD but have used others in the past. 

Side note:  you can always make your own bean bags!  :-)

Things we've done in the past:
* Bean bags are a perfect size to explore with the different types of catching and throwing and other coordination activities. 
*  Balance a bean bag on our heads.
*  Move around the room with a bean bag on head in various ways.  End with a big "aaaa-choooo!" and flip your head down so it falls of.  I encourage forward and backward walking, running, galloping, skipping (for those ready), the slide, etc.
* We lay our alphabet mats down on the floor placing them randomly in a rectangle.  Each child chooses a bean bag to hold.  We play some music and move around the mat in various ways.  When the song ends each child tosses their bean bag onto the mat.  Then we go around to each child and they pick up their bean bag and tells us what letter it is and if they can the sound and a word that starts it.  Having noticeably different bean bags works best.  :-)
*  On the same note, I lay basic concept cards/mats down and the children toss their bean bags onto the concepts.
*  We had a set of exercise cards and the children tossed their bean bag on a number mat (you can make your own out of an old shower curtain or twister mat if you wish.)  Then they did the particular exercise that many times.  On the note of a Twister mat, you can use it without defiling it by writing numbers on it.  :-)  Have a child spin the spinner, state the color and each of the children toss their bean bag onto a corresponding color.
* I've used them for patterning, counting, forming letters, shapes and numbers.  If you create your own you can use a variety of color/texture of materials!  One way we did the patterning was to create one on our floor with space between each one (you can make a masking tape "template" if you wish).  Then the children jumped next to or over each one stating the pattern.  So if you used red and green bean bags the children would jump (jumping with both feet off of the ground is one thing I look for) over each bean bag saying red, green, red, green.  Great for those kinesthetic learners.
* I set out a selection of plastic flower pots (Target dollar section one year had good size pots in different colors with a daisy on the front of each of them :-P) and corresponding colored bean bags.  The children were encouraged to toss their bean bags into the corresponding colored pots.
* If you have a large group, a bean bag works well for transitioning or sharing.  I've used a sharing stick with a very young group before where the child with the stick is the one we listen to.  I've used the bean bag the same way.  We do a bit of planning and reviewing and of course it can spark a lot of conversation.  When I am limited in time I bring out a bean bag or something similar so the children have a visual of whose turn it is to talk and they can talk when they have the bean bag.  (Side note:  I'm big on conversation/verbal language so we try to make sure there is enough time for that!  That's one nice thing about a small's much more feasible to have meaningful conversation.)
* Bean bags are great to use in activities to reinforce body parts and positional words.  Most bean bag CD's that you can get (check your local library) will include songs to reinforce these concepts.
*  I've graphed with bean bags by color.  If you make your own, keep this idea in your mind.  You can sort by texture, color, size and so on. 
* I placed a masking tape beginning line.  Each child stood at the line with their bean bag and each tossed it in front of them.  Then, taking turns (otherwise it's too confusing), the children walked to their bean bag counting the number of steps.  We wrote it down on a chart that had their names on it(numeral formation/recognition) and then compared the numbers.  We continued as interest kept (actually quite a few rounds).
*  Hiding bean bags around the room (hiding anything around the room, for that matter :-)) is always a hit.  Then you can reinforce whatever concept your bean bags will reinforce. So color, number, alphabet, and shape.  I've been known to masking tape basic concepts/pictures onto my plain bean bags.  They hold up for a little while.  :-)
*  Ah, yes.  Once I put on zoo and farm animal pictures.  I placed two hula hoops on the floor.  One labeled with farm and the labeled with zoo.  Then the children sorted and tossed into the correct hoop.  I remember that I had done this with an older group and so I put some that they could find in both see what they would do with it.  LOL  It was so funny.  Sparked conversation and so we went into problem solving.  You know what they came up with?  A Venn Diagram!  Yeah!  I had wondered if they would.  We had done it previously a few times.   Remember you can plan problems to arise.  It's very important for them to learn how to analyze a problem and come up with a solution that works for everyone!  Of course, if you have a group that is young and you have not introduced a Venn can use something like this as an introduction...just don't expect them to come up with that solution on their own!  
*  On that same note, I've also done healthy/non healthy food sorting (or good for our teeth not good for our teeth) .
Well, that is all, off the top of my head, for the moment.  :-)  I'm sure there are more things that we've done or what can be done with bean bags.  Feel free to comment and share things you have done with bean bags, I'm always looking for "new" ideas or reminders!

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