I have been on a bit of a hot glue gun kick lately, making all sorts of fun things out of felt and hot glue. Then it hit me — we should totally pull out our beans we use for sensory play and make some DIY no-sew bean bags!
These beanbags are great because they are simple, inexpensive, and easy to make!
All you need is:
- Felt (1 piece per beanbag, about 25-30¢ per piece at a craft store)
- Dry beans + measuring cup (1/2 cup per beanbag, can buy bagged or in bulk)
- Ziploc sandwich baggie (1 per beanbag)
- Tape (any kind will do)
- Scissors (good enough to cut felt, I honestly just used large kitchen scissors)
- Hot glue gun with hot glue sticks
Once you have all your supplies, it’s time to plug in your glue gun and get to work making your no-sew bean bags!
You’re going to make the innards of your bean bag, so get out your baggie, dry beans, measuring cup, and tape. Scoop 1/2 cup dry beans into the baggie (or just eyeball it), zip it up, and then loosely fold the bag into a square so the beans aren’t super packed in there (you don’t want a bean bag that’s hard as a baseball when — not if — your kid gets hit in the head with it!). Put a few pieces of tape to secure the loose flaps so the baggie will be able to keep its square shape after being tossed around. I like having the beans secured in a baggie rather than simply filling the bean bag with loose beans, just in case the bean bag springs a leak later on!
Now it’s time to get the felt to the size you want. Place your square bean-filled baggie on the felt and leave about 1″ of space around the edges. Cut a square around your square baggie, accounting for that 1″ margin. This will give you plenty of room for the bean bag to fit inside the cover while also allowing for the application and squishing of the hot glue in Step 3.
Don’t freak out if your cutting lines aren’t perfectly straight. You can trim them the way you like later. If you have grout on your counters somewhere, you can rest the lower blade of your scissors on one of the grout lines and use it as a general guide for cutting straight! Once you cut out your first square and you are happy with its general size, use it as a guide and cut out your second felt square. Now you are ready to start assembling your no-sew bean bag!
It’s time to use your hot glue gun, so if you have a kiddo nearby, do not let them near the hot glue since it can burn curious little hands! Squeeze a line of hot glue along one edge of one square of felt. Remember, the hot glue will squish and spread as you press the two pieces of felt together, so give yourself some margin (about 1/2″ from the edge) while hot gluing. As soon as you squeeze the hot glue on, set down your glue gun and immediately place the second square of felt directly on top of the one you just glued. Hot glue hardens quickly, so don’t dilly dally! Being careful not to touch to hot glue itself, press the two edges of felt together, squish it with your fingers, and make sure the pieces are firmly secured together. Once you’ve glued the first edges together, proceed to glue two more edges together (for a total of three edges), and then put down your glue gun. (DON’T GLUE ALL FOUR EDGES TOGETHER!)
Insert your bean-filled plastic baggie, grab your glue gun, and then glue together the fourth and final edge. Now you have your first no-sew bean bag! I’d suggest giving the bean bag a minute or two to let the hot glue fully harden before you start playing with it.
Time to make more bean bags so you have lots to play with! Your first bean bag might take you about five minutes or so but, after that, you should become faster and more efficient with your process! This DIY no-sew bean bag project would be a good one to do during your little one’s nap time. Then you guys can play after nap time is over!
Speaking of playing — what good are bean bags if you don’t have fun ideas for how to play with them?!
Bean bag play can be used to address so many developmental skills! Think of hand-eye coordination, visual tracking (following objects with your eyes), bilateral coordination, hand dominance, body awareness, core strength, upper body strength, sensory integration, social skills, and so so much more!
One way we have been using our bean bags to have fun is by playing corn hole (you know, that bean bag toss game?). I had an empty box lying in the garage and, after seeing this DIY bean bag board toss idea from Amanda — a play therapist who blogs at Dirt & Boogers — I realized my box was the perfect size for a kiddie corn hole board. Great for the kid who is learning how to throw at a target!
Here are lots of other fun bean bag activities that can be done in therapy or at home to promote a child’s development. Click on the links below to learn exactly how to do these great bean bag activities!
1. Balance ’em on your head (or shoulder, arm, forehead — whatever!) while walking!
2. Introduce a variety of ways to toss ’em and catch ’em (great intro for younger or less coordinated kiddos)!
3. Toss and match ’em to colored paper!
4. Have a bean bag relay!
6. Walk like a bean bag-balancing animal!
7. Get out your cardboard and use ’em like an old fashioned carnival toss game!
8. Scoop, throw, and catch ’em with some upcycled milk jugs!
9. Write numbers on ’em and earn points in a hula hoop!
10. Flip ’em with a spatula like pancakes!
11. Toss ’em into a milk jug monster!
12. Launch ’em Angry Birds style!
13. Sort ’em while playing on a scooter board (or even while crawling like a lizard!)
14. Build a tower out of cardboard bricks (or those random cardboard boxes you’ve been storing in your garage) and then knock it down!
15. Throw ’em at a target or into a bucket while rolling on a therapy ball!
Have fun playing and learning with your no-sew bean bags!