I loved playing with bean bags as a child, probably because I was a bit uncoordinated and bean bags were much easier to catch than a ball that always bounced out of my hands.
There are so many ways kids can play with bean bags, and they are a great way to practice throwing, catching and balancing which develop gross motor skills and encourage active play.
I made these for Emma when she was just a toddler and we’ve had lots of fun playing with them over the years. Even nine years later, she still pulls them out of her toy box for the occasional game of bean bag toss.
Bean bags are very easy to sew, even if you have limited sewing skills. You can make them with just a few fabric scraps and a few pantry items.
Yes it’s time to dig out that old bag of dried beans from the back of the pantry that you can’t remember ever buying and put them to good use!
If you have a budding sewist in your midst, this sewing project is a great one for kids to make. Only a few straight seams on the sewing machine is all that’s required.
Any fairly sturdy fabric will do for this project, including pieces of old clothing like denim from an old pair of jeans.
I’ve got 10 Fun Bean Bag Game ideas for Kids at the bottom of this post, so just scroll down past the DIY Bean Bag Tutorial for the list of ideas.
Let’s Make Bean Bags from Fabric Scraps
You will need:
- Fabric scraps in assorted sizes (medium weight fabric is best)
- Filling (dried beans, popping corn, rice, small plastic or wooden beads, aquarium gravel or plastic pellets)
- Sewing machine
- Fabric scissors
- Sewing pins
- Sheet of paper or wide mouth funnel
- General sewing supplies
Note on fillings: If using food items for filling, store in a cool dry place, avoid getting the bean bags wet and store away from pest attack. If stored properly, your homemade bean bags will bring you joy for may years. We’ve had these bags for nearly 9 years (made them in 2010) and they are still in prefect condition.
If you intend on using bean bags outdoors I’d recommend filling with synthetic corn hole filling that doesn’t rot or develop mildew.
How to Sew your own Bean Bags:
1. Cut your fabric into rectangular/square shapes double the size of your desired size when folded in half. A bean bag no bigger than about the size of your hand is ideal, remember it’s for little hands.
2. Fold in half, right sides together and stitch around 2 sides leaving one side open for turning. Use a 1cm (1/2″) seam allowance. I recommend double stitching the seam using a short stitch length. Trim corners to remove bulk.
3. Turn inside out and on the open side press the fabric inwards to make a 1cm (1/2″) hem. This will help in step 5 later.
4. Fill your bag. Roll sheet of paper into a cone shape to act as a funnel and fill about 2/3 full with beans (or desired filling).
5. Move the filling away from the open end and pin closed to secure.
6. Sew opening closed. Stitch seam twice for added strength.
All Done! That wasn’t difficult at all. Take a look below at some fun ways that kids can play with bean bags.
Bean Bag Variations:
- Make bags in different sizes, colours or fabric textures for fun tactile and sensory play. Tactile fabrics to use can include, velvet, corduroy, satin, denim, felt.
- Use assorted fillings and vary the weight of each bag to make tossing games extra challenging.
- Add dried lavender or a few drops of essential oil to filling for some aromatic play. (This may also help repel pests).
10 Bean Bag Game Ideas for Kids
There are so many ways to play with fabric bean bags, I’ve put together a few ideas to get you started. Bean bags are great for indoor play as they don’t bounce around the room like a ball can.
Because they are easy to handle, children of all ages can use them to develop gross motor skills and hand-eye co-ordination. Almost all of these game ideas can be adapted to kids of varying ages – so may fun bean bag activities here for toddlers, preschoolers, kids and teens.
These game ideas are ideal to play on a rainy day, and they also make fun party games!
1. Balance the Bean Bag Race
Walk, hop, run with a bean bag balancing on your head, shoulders, or elbow. Try not to drop it or you have to start from the beginning.
2. Throw and catch
Toss the bean bag in the air and catch. Make it harder by tossing over just above head, adding a clap between tossing and catching, and tossing and catching with one hand only.
3. Bean Bag Toss
Use baskets, pots, hula hoops or buckets as targets to throw bean bags in. As players get better they step back and try again from further away. Older kids can play with points. Allocate points to each target, the smaller containers or ones further away should have a higher point value. Great for practicing math skills.
4. Bean Bag Skittles
Place empty plastic bottles at the end of a hallway (you can partly fill them with sand or rice to make them more stable) and either slide or toss the bean bags to knock over the bottles.
Use a beanbag instead of a stone to play hopscotch. If you are playing indoors, markup a hopscotch game with masking tape or washi tape.
6. Hot Potato
Players sit in a circle and pass or toss the beanbag to the next player while music is playing. As soon as the music stops the player holding the ‘hot potato’ bean bag is out.
Bean bags are a great tool to help develop juggling skills. Start with tossing one bean bag from one hand to the other. Keep adding bean bags as skills progress. Here is a great juggling lesson video to help you get started with juggling.
7. Keep ups / Hacky Sack
Balance the bean bag on your foot and toss (or kick) it up in the air, catching it again with either the same or different part of your foot. The aim is to not let the bean bag fall to the ground. Count how many time you can ‘keep up’ the bag. Try beating your score. You can use the inside, outside or front of your foot.
8. Hide the bean bag
One player hides bean bags around the room/house and the other player tries to find them. You can add variations to make the bean bags easier to find, like saying ‘cooler/warmer’, making a treasure map, or giving the seeker hints.
9. Bean bag tower
If you have enough bean bags, stack them up and build the tallest tower you can. Try folding the bean bags in different ways to make the tower even taller.
9. Bean Bag Shuffle Board
On a smooth floor, mark a line with tape. Players must slide the bean bags along the floor, the aim is to place it closest to the line.
I hope you enjoy these fun bean bag games and activities for kids. If you have any other bean bag games you’d like to share just leave a comment with your suggestion.
You may also like:
- Sew a Softie – Pocket Pals
- Jacks Pouch (knucklebones pouch)
- Toddler Pipe Cleaner Weaving Activity
- Upcycle Suitcase Dollhouse
LOVE IT? PIN IT!
This DIY Bean Bag tutorial was originally published in Oct 2010. Updated and republished June 2019