Bear Paw Creek Celebrates 20 Years

January 2020 marks the 20th year that Bear Paw Creek has been in business!  This post will be taking a look back and looking forward to the future.

January 2000 brought my husband and our 1 year old son living in Springfield, Missouri. We had moved from Alaska just a few months before.  I was trying to figure out a way to make some money working from home. What started out as a conversation with my sister, soon become the idea that has gotten Bear Paw Creek to celebrating 20 years in business!

I am thankful and humbled to have reached this milestone. We’re going to kick off the year with a big giveaway to C E L E B R A T E!!!!

Bear Paw Creek celebrates 20 years in business

Where It All Began

Bear Paw Creek was originally named Props & Bags, Etc.  This title was to showcase our main focus on creative movement props and storage for those props, along with bag solutions for instruments and other items the traveling music therapist found a need for.  The idea for the business came from a conversation with my sister.  As a newly practicing music therapist, she was finding the need for movement props, and also storage solutions.  Sewing and creating were some of my favorite things to do and so that become the starting vision for what is now Bear Paw Creek.

As you can see our family has grown right along with the business!




January 2000 – Business was officially started with the name Props & Bags, Etc.

Summer 2000 –  More product creation and products pictures taken.  First website created and mail marketing began.

May 2001 – Wholesale division begins with West Music as our first customer.

2008 – Brings a new name of Bear Paw Creek and two more wholesale customers, Music is Elementary and Music Together.

2012 – Until this time, BPC mainly operated on wholesale orders.  With the invention of WordPress, and the opportunity to control your own e-commerce site, BPC started to build their retail market

May 2013 – Received a phone call that took half our business away (however, it ended up doubling it in the long run) , but ended up being the catalyst that put BPC on a new projection.  Retail business continues to grow.  Claimed our listings on and begin to pick up more wholesale customers.

2014 – 2019  BPC continues to grow and adds more wholesale customers, with several international. The retail business continues to reach more and we enjoy connecting with others to share music, dance, and lesson plans for our creative movement props.

May 2019 – BPC acquires a.e.IDEAS scarf line which brings even more scarf sizes, colors, and music to our customers.

January 2020 – We celebrate 20 years and look forward to the next 20!  We have some fun new projects lined up and are planning year long giveaway to CELEBRATE!

Thank YOU!




Giveaway #1 of 2020


We are joining forces with Rachel Rambach of Listen Learn Music to bring you 12 songs to go with the stretchy band, bean bags, balloon ball, and scarves.  They will come in a crocheted yarn basket and also includes our new BPC egg shakers!  Worth over $250 and the winner will be drawn February 1.


Click to the image to enter!

January 2020 Bear Paw Creek movement prop product with music giveaway

Janet Stephens is the founder and creator behind Bear Paw Creek’s creative movement props and bags. She is passionate about learning and sharing along the way.

Ultimate Guide To Bean Bag Activities and Games

Your Ultimate Guide To Bean Bag Activities And Games

Beanbags are a must-have in every equipment room or storage closet! They’re easy to store and can be used for tossing, a myriad of movement activities, and a collection of learning and developmental games. I am sharing bean bag activities that can be used across the curriculum, at home, or in any therapy or learning environment.

Beanbags can help your child with motor development. As you implement beanbags you can expect to notice improvements in the following areas:

  • Hand-eye Coordination (good for handwriting skills)
  • Visual-Motor Skills (Tracking for reading and writing)
  • Attention and Focus (sitting still at the child’s desk, less fidgeting, listening to the teacher)
  • Gross Motor Skills (posture, copying notes from the chalkboard)
  • Fine Motor Development (improves directionality of letters and numbers, pencil grip)
  • Executive Functioning Skills (organization, retention, problem-solving, critical thinking)
  • Motor Planning (processing, coordination, handwriting, forming words)

So just because the activity is grouped in the motor skills section doesn’t mean it has no value in other developmental areas. Quite the opposite! But I have grouped them as best I can to organize them for your convenience in choosing activities!

girl throwing bean bags in the air as part of a beanbag game on the ultimate guide to bean bag activities and games

Bean bag activities create learning experiences through fun

When I was a child we had a bean bag frog (way before the era of beanie toys) We loved our Froggie and played with him all the time! From a diverting game of hot potato, to throwing him at a target, to using him as an action toy. I had NO idea at the time that by playing with him in all these ways my brother and I were learning so many important skills!

Bean Bag Activities To Use For Every Developmental Area

Bean Bag Activities For Motor Skills

  • Bean bag balance: Balance a beanbag on your head while
    • walking
    • doing scissor steps
    • stepping heel to toe
    • on tip-toe
    • walking on a rope or duct tape laid in a straight line
    • taking giant steps
    • walking around various obstacles
  • Bean Bag Toss: toss a bean bag in the air
    • to yourself
    • to a friend
      • start close together and take a step back each turn
    • add a clap while the bean bag is mid-air
      • see how many claps you can add
    • catch with one hand
    • use small buckets, pots, or large plastic glasses to catch with
  • Hanging Bean Bag Toss: Suspend the beanbag from a tree branch, or doorway with a rope in a netted bag. The child can then toss the beanbag away from them and catch it when it rebounds! (source)
  • Bean Bag Relay:
    • Have children stand in a line front to back. The first child hands a beanbag, overhead,  to the person behind them, repeat until you get to the last child. The last child tosses the beanbag into the bucket and runs to the front of the line to repeat.
    • child, or children, stand behind a line and run beanbags across the yard and throw them in a bucket, then run back to the starting line while another child takes off to do the same until all the beanbags are in the bucket. variations include, but are not limited to:
      • hop with the beanbag
      • crawl with the beanbag
      • carry the beanbag in a spoon
      • scoot the beanbag with their nose
      • hop on one leg with the beanbag balanced on the other foot (with a much shorter distance)
      • skip with the beanbag
      • race to the finish line while balancing the beanbag on various body parts. They can balance on their head, arm, back, or back of their hand
  • Hitting A Target: Throw a bean bag at a target. Center the target in front of the child or for an added twist, Place the target to the front and side so they have to cross their imaginary mid-line in order to hit it. If the child is right-handed the target will be off-center to the left. Target ideas include:
    • a bucket
    • a line on the floor
    • a hula hoop
    • an X or circle taped to the wall
    • a bullseye marked on a box propped up against a wall or chair
    • cornhole board
    • laundry basket
  • Bean Bag Pass: sit in a circle and pass the beanbag around. Variations include, but are not limited to:
    • hot potato, or bag in this case. Pass it to music, when the music stops, the child holding the bag is out. For large groups, the player who is left holding the bag moves to the center of the circle, when the center can no longer hold any more players, the game is over! Another variation would be for the player holding the bag when the music stops to get a point. The player with the fewest points at the end wins.
  • Duck, Duck, Goose! When the child chooses a “goose” they put a beanbag on their head 🙂
  • Unfreeze A Friend: Every player places a bean bag onto their head then must move around the play space keeping the bag balanced. If the bag falls, the player must let it drop to the ground and freeze. Other players may help frozen players by picking the bean bag up off the ground and handing them to the frozen player to put back on their heads and move again.
  • Shuffleboard: indoor, or out. Draw with chalk for outdoors, or using tape for indoors, 4 lines on the ground/floor. Take turns sliding bean bags as far beyond the first three lines — without sliding the bags beyond the fourth line. After sliding three bags each, tally points. One point per bag past the first line, two past the second line and three past the third line.
  • Bean Bag Frenzy: for large groups. Place hula hoops around a large room or gym with beanbags in them. It helps if they can be color-coordinated, but you could label for teams. Players transfer the beanbags to the other hoops by balancing, hopping, skipping, or running them to the other hoops! (source)
  • Crossing the Midline activities with beanbags

Even more great links to activities with beanbags!


Bean Bag Activities For Learning Concepts


  • Tic-Tac-Toe: You will need two different colors of beanbags, 5 of each color. Use colored tape to layout a tic-tac-toe board on the floor. Take turns with two different colored bean bags, placing them into each square, trying to get three in a row. For an added challenge, create a tossing line a few steps back from the tic tac toe field and require players to toss their bean bags in each square.
  • Hide The Bean Bag: Players take turns hiding the beanbag(s) and the others find them (think Easter egg hunt, or hide and go seek)
  • Bean Bag Ring Toss: Use pool type diving rings, colorful plastic plates, yoga dots, or frisbees as targets to throw matching colored bean bags onto.
  • Recite Verses: Here are some ideas to get you started on verses to recite while passing or tossing beanbags as a learning aid. great for
    • Circle time
    • memory work
    • counting
    • letters
    • transitioning from one activity to the next and
    • solidifying routines
  • Counting: count each beanbag as it gets tossed into a bucket
  • Color Change! place all of the beanbags in the middle of a circle of children. One child picks up a beanbag and names the color. The children pass the beanbag around the circle while a snippet of music plays, when the music shuts off, the child holding the beanbag puts it back and chooses another, announcing it’s color. Repeat.
  • Hot Seat: Play as if you were playing the classic “hot potato” game. When the music stops, instead of being ‘out’, the child with the beanbag answers a question. What month is it? Name the days of the week. What is 2+2? Read the sight word. Up to infinity!
  • Lots of learning and transitioning ideas Here.
  • Adding and Subtracting: Use beanbags as manipulatives for basic math concepts.
  • Number matching: Write numbers 1-5 (or higher) on cards, or sheets of paper. One number per card. Have the child place the corresponding number of beanbags under each number.
  • Teaching Directional words: here is a fun song for teaching directional words
  • Bean Bag Song
  • More ideas on Teaching with Beanbags!


Using Bean Bags For Music Therapy, Tactile Stimulation, Sensory Regulation And Senior Activity


many people need that strong sensory input so their bodies can communicate with their brains more effectively.

  • This song/game  for tactile stimulation, sensory regulation, following one-step directions, and turn-taking skill using our textured bean bags
  • Tactile Matching Game: Start by laying out one beanbag of each texture, then the child feels inside a bag containing the remaining beanbags for a matching texture for each. Alternatively, present the child with one textured bag at a time for them to find that texture.
  • Beanbag Baseball: A fun game to keep seniors active.



Even More Bean Bag Ideas

For even more ideas to use beanbags for play and learning get our free Bean Bags, Bean Bags Galore!

Pin this for later!

Joy is a mom of 6 (ages 5-26) who has a passion for encouraging moms! With three already grown up, married and having families of their own, three still at home, 2 kids with Down syndrome, and having been through a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis in a teen she has definately been through some ups and downs. However, she believes that each mom is divinely appointed and equipped to raise her particular kid(s) better than anyone else in the world no matter how it may feel on any particular day! She wants to inspire Your Mom heart as well as making the more practical aspects of running a household a tad easier over at

7 Indoor Activities For Fun On Winter Days

Fun Indoor Activities That Will Make You A Hero One Day This Winter!

Keep these fun indoor activities on hand for those times this winter when you find yourself stuck in the house for an extended period of time with a little less room than you wish you had, a little more noise than you can stand, and maybe even a little less patience than you need!


girl with bean bags deicting fun activities for for winter days

When it’s too cold to be outside

When the wind is howling and the ice is raining down and there is no chance for fun games outside you will need some quick diversions! I put together this list of fun indoor activities to keep everyone moving, mind as well as body, and to help strengthen family ties when you might otherwise be making less than sweet memories.

My kids love to play in the snow. Actually, I do too! One particular winter, though. The snow came, but it was so cold out there we couldn’t enjoy it at all. We were freezing after just a few minutes. We only ventured out for dire necessities! The kids ended up watching way to much Television. You know how that goes, what was extremely entertaining for a few hours becomes the source of squabbles and before you know it the screen zombies are out in full force haggling over anything and everything! Something has to give in these times and a good list of indoor games will make you a hero!

7Fun Activities when stuck indoors

Plastic Cup Building

Hand the kids several sets of plastic cups and let them build to their heart’s content! Towers, forts, pyramids, you name it. Go freestyle or have an engineering contest, it’s up to you.

Sensory play bins

Plastic tubs holding various dry materials, add scoops, spoons, and tiny utensils and you have an afternoon of fun. Another fun add-on is small toys for even more pretend play and communication skills opportunities. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination on this one.

Some good materials are Dry macaroni, dry beans or peas of all shapes and sizes, peat moss, coconut coir, and salt, to name a few.

Bean bag color shoot

Place different colors of construction paper on the ground. Either in a line with the child standing behind it or in a circle with the child standing in the middle of it. The child holds bean bags in corresponding colors. The object is for the child to throw each beanbag onto its corresponding color.

Play band, or parade

The only way to make this game better is to first make your own homemade instruments! My kids used to spend hours making their own instruments, then march and play with them all afternoon! This post has some great ideas for making your own simple and fun instruments.

Read a book

Or 2 or 3. Spend the afternoon with a great read-aloud. Set up a picnic in the living room and settle in for the long- haul! My favorite winter activity by far.

Play board games

This is such a great activity to build community. There is always peals of laughter at some point. In our family, ALL the kids love the thrill of beating mom!

Dance Party!

Turn on some music. Pull out some movement props like scarves, jingle bells, or streamers and let the creative times roll!

Or play Beanbag freeze! Turn on the music and everyone dances, tossing beanbags about as they go. Turn off the music and everyone must freeze! I’m sure this would insight some real drama in any age group! (source: MeaningfulMama)

Balloon ball games

Our Balloon balls are just the thing for inside! They have the airy lightness of a balloon, with a little kick provided by the texture of the material covering. They keep ball games safe for indoors!

  • Keep away
  • Catch
  • Categories, saying the name when you hit the balloon
  • Basketball into a basket or tub for a new twist
  • Dodgeball

and more…


Beanbag games

Meaningful Mama has a whole post with great bean bag ideas! You will find everything from balancing games, tossing games, endurance games, relays, to obstacle activities and more there. Take a look at all her bean bag ideas here.


Winning with fun indoor activities

Print this off, get any props, pieces, or ingredients you might not have on hand, and tuck it away for that inevitable house-bound day when you need something special!

Your kids will love it, and who knows, you might all end the day wishing you’ll be stuck inside again soon!

Save it to Pinterest for extra precaution 😉

Joy is a mom of 6 (ages 5-26) who has a passion for encouraging moms! With three already grown up, married and having families of their own, three still at home, 2 kids with Down syndrome, and having been through a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis in a teen she has definately been through some ups and downs. However, she believes that each mom is divinely appointed and equipped to raise her particular kid(s) better than anyone else in the world no matter how it may feel on any particular day! She wants to inspire Your Mom heart as well as making the more practical aspects of running a household a tad easier over at

17 Ways to Create Opportunities for Indoor Movement Activities This Winter

Indoor Movement Activities to chill out the winter blahs!



When the kids are climbing the walls because they have been cooped up inside for too long what are ya going to do?

I am going to give you so many ideas for indoor movement activities that the kids won’t have a chance to even think about being bored!… and then they will be able to think. period.

We all know that dreaded phrase, “I’m boooored!”

It’s actually banned at our house I hate to hear it so much! But that doesn’t mean my kids don’t go stir-crazy when the winter weather takes over! Even as an adult, I’m prone to cabin fever sometimes.

When the weather begins to turn grey outside something in our heads begins to become dull as well! Physical exercise: moving our bodies is the  best cure for this dullness!

With old man winter approaching, you need some engaging indoor activities for kids in your arsenal and at the ready! Therefore, I went on a quest to find some amazing games and ideas to engage motor skills and imagination in indoor spaces to keep those kids occupied and the indoor decor safe at the same time 🙂

ways to create opportunities for indoor movement activities

Why Fun Indoor Movement Activities are Important for Intellect and Behavior


Did you know that physical activity can boost brain power, improve mood, enhance concentration and increase decision-making skills? (source )

Furthermore, The benefits of exercise come directly from its ability to reduce insulin resistance, reduce inflammation, and stimulate the release of growth factors—chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells. (source)

Studies show that even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. Did you get that? Being on the move for just 20 minutes at a time will help us (and our kids) concentrate better Immediately! Wow!

Dr. John Ratey, via Forbes, says that exercise improves your brain in the short term by raising your focus for two to three hours afterward. So frequent breaks for movement are immediately beneficial for concentration! Great news for teachers and moms alike!

Indoor movement activities will make kids smarter! Being active will increase their ability to focus and concentrate, making your job easier!

So whether you are a mom stuck inside with multiple children during a snowstorm, or a teacher with a classroom full of children that you need to get to concentrate, these activities are your ticket to peace and success!

17 Fun Indoor Activities and Games to keep them focused and calm all day long!

Bring on the games! Some of the activities can be used to strengthen concepts or academic skills, all reinforce motor skills with movement. And all will create an atmosphere of fun and comradery.

Have a quick snowball fight! When your woes are caused having ice outside instead of snow this is a great solution!

# 1 Traditional snowball fight with 2 teams, forts, and fun

#2 Dodgeball version, which is much easier in small spaces with the same amount of fun

#3 Make 2 rows of kids facing each other with several buckets in front of each row. Each team frantically tries to get all of their snowballs into the buckets in front of the other team!

#4 Have a Snowball Freeze!

#5 Check out these snow-themed activities

Studies show that exercising even briefly facilitates information processing and memory functions… when we MOVE our brains work better IMMEDIATELY!

Indoor Activities with Scarves


Scarves are just plain fun! You can acquire them from grandmothers, thrift stores, garage sales, or from Bear Paw Creek with ease for hours of creative movement fun!

#6 Turn on some dance tunes and hand the kids some scarves -they’ll know what to do!

#7 Have a Dancing Scarf Blues party

#8 Creative Movement Activities and Songs with Scarves

#9 Pass the hanky

#10 Try These Beat Passing Games

#11 Drop the hanky or scarf in our case. You can find directions here

Bean Bags: The Classic Indoor Activity for the Win!

Bean Bags are so open-ended the possibilities are really endless! Here are just a few ideas to get you started 🙂

#12 Play hopscotch with them! Create a board with painter’s tape and use the beanbags for playing pieces

#13 Play Tic-Tac-Toe with them on a giant grid on the floor (use painter’s tape again)

#14 Play “Hot Potatoe” with beanbags. Pass the beanbag to music. Whoever has it when the music stops is out.

#15 Bean Bag Hunt: One person hides the beanbags while the others hide their eyes. Then everyone dashes to find all the beanbags!

#16 Basketball with a change-up: use beanbags to toss and a laundry basket or sand bucket for the goal!

#17 Bean Bag races: create a start line and a finish line, the players push the beanbag across the path with their foreheads!

Just Get Moving!

There you have it! 17 Amazing ideas to get those minds and bodies moving in a productive way. Whether you take one fun idea each day or use all 17 ideas in a marathon activity-based day is completely up to you!  3 great movement props at your disposal for easy fun, what will you do first?

Don’t keep the good stuff to yourself! Be sure to share this list with someone else who you know could benefit!


Pin This for when your ready to plan neat stuff 🙂

Joy is a mom of 6 (ages 5-26) who has a passion for encouraging moms! With three already grown up, married and having families of their own, three still at home, 2 kids with Down syndrome, and having been through a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis in a teen she has definately been through some ups and downs. However, she believes that each mom is divinely appointed and equipped to raise her particular kid(s) better than anyone else in the world no matter how it may feel on any particular day! She wants to inspire Your Mom heart as well as making the more practical aspects of running a household a tad easier over at

Rolling Cart Storage Cover to AMTA 2019

I’m excited to be sending out biggest giveaway to the AMTA Nationals 2019 this year.

Worth over $300!  Check out what it includes:

Dbest Quick Cart – $32
Custom Rolling Cart Storage Cover –  $45
Large Stretchy Band – $67
Balloon Ball – $22
Set of 12 Bean Bags in 12 colors  $25
Set of Rainbow 36″ Scarves with music  $67
Three: Barefoot Books $30.00
Three: Miss Carole cds – $45
Total MSRP:  $333

Rolling Cart Storage Cover

Another great idea brought to you from my sister, Kathy from Tuneful Teaching!  She had purchased a collapsible cart and wanted to make the cart more functional so sent me her ideas.  I had fun creating this pattern and we think others might find it useful as well!  You can read more about the product which was just added to the shop.   Here are a few pics of the bag empty and also with the goodies I sent off for the raffle. 

How to Enter to Win?

This is the details I received, so I hope this helps you put your raffle ticket in the basket!

1) Your donation will be raffled intact as it was sent.
2) Each donated item will have a container in which people can put their purchased tickets.
3) Details of the baskets will be next to each item.
4) Winners will be drawn Thursday after the Exhibit Spectacular (@10)
5) tickets are $5 each
6) tix sold near the raffle items

Janet Stephens is the founder and creator behind Bear Paw Creek’s creative movement props and bags. She is passionate about learning and sharing along the way.

Ideas For Successful Circle Time At Home

Why You Want To Make Circle Time A Regular Part Of Your Day

Circle time is a memory maker! It uses games, songs, and activities to teach concepts that need a lot of reinforcement in a warm, friendly atmosphere! Circle time utilizes closeness, laughter and fun to teach. This makes beautiful memories and adds sparkle to your day, and in turn strengthens the learning going on! I can’t think of a better way to learn!

Silver stars in background with blue circle and transparent dark blue box that identifies the article by it's title ​Main IMage

Circle Time Puts Sparkle In Your Day 

Janet, owner at Bear Paw Creek has fond memories of her  childhood library’s programs that included storytime. Later, because of those memories she made circle time an intregal part of her little home daycare when her son was small. And now she spends her days creating props that give inspiration to circle times of all kinds everywhere! 

You do not have to be a professional, have a large group of children, or even be overflowing with creativity to create memories and learning with circle time! With a simple structure and a few activities you will be all set for success.


Circle time uses games, songs, and activities to teach concepts that need a lot of reinforcement in a warm, friendly atmosphere!

You Can Easily Create Circle Time At Home In A Few Easy Steps

It is simple and fun and you can do it easily with Janets tips, guidelines and ideas for songs and activities! Janet has written an article that is sure to inspire and get you started over at With The Huddlestons as a part of their Learning In The Early Years Series. Just click on over to read her post Circle Time At Home to start your own learning traditions!

Visit our Shop for even more circle time inspiration from our movement props! My favorite is the scarves 🙂

Joy is a mom of 6 (ages 5-26) who has a passion for encouraging moms! With three already grown up, married and having families of their own, three still at home, 2 kids with Down syndrome, and having been through a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis in a teen she has definately been through some ups and downs. However, she believes that each mom is divinely appointed and equipped to raise her particular kid(s) better than anyone else in the world no matter how it may feel on any particular day! She wants to inspire Your Mom heart as well as making the more practical aspects of running a household a tad easier over at

Music and Movement for Pumpkins and Halloween

Recently Beth Green “The Music Lady” shared a pumpkin song that inspired me to make a “pumpkin” stretchy band, which then made me say – a-ha – a giveaway!

With so many friends putting out creative movement, music, books, and ideas to do around Halloween and pumpkins, this post is all about that and a BIG giveaway included, sponsored by the following:

  • Sing Play Create
  • Listen Learn Music
  • Music for Kiddos
  • Bear Paw Creek

A few months ago I got connected with Beth Green, The Music Lady.   

You will see she full of light and joy!  Her video is what inspired this giveaway!

Long time friend of Bear Paw Creek, Kat Fulton, introduced me to Stephanie Leavell, MT-BC a few months ago.  I remembered the book that she wrote and thought it would be the perfect addition to our Halloween giveaway.  She kindly offered up the whole bundle. I think I’m going to have to get one of these for my family.  Be sure to read about what she’s doing.

Rachel Rambach has added three of her fun songs to the giveaway!

From Sandra over at Sing Play Create
Boo! It’s Halloween creative movement activity time. These Ghostly scarf directional cards and Monster movement cards will keep your students busy burning off Halloween excitement! There are also 4 other Halloween games included in this wicked brew! K-6 applications.


Halloween Movement Props

  • Bear Paw Creek medium stretchy band in pumpkin fabric
  • Pumpkin Balloon Ball
  • Black, White, and Orange Scarf set of 12
  • 12 Halloween Hoop Ribbon Streamers

***You can order the stretchy bands with the fun halloween jack o’lanterns (just put a note on the order that you want the pumpkin fabric)  and the new patch of pumpkin balloon balls are in the shop! 

Janet Stephens is the founder and creator behind Bear Paw Creek’s creative movement props and bags. She is passionate about learning and sharing along the way.

Celebrating Down Syndrome Awareness Month

Music and Movement Win for Down Syndrome Awareness!

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month and the custom here at Bear Paw Creek is to donate 10% of all sales in October to a Down syndrome-related cause!

This year we are excited to introduce you to the Egan Family!

Did you know that approximately half of all infants born with Down syndrome have a heart defect? (source) Having a heart surgery at any age is a scary experience for any parent!  These “heart warrior” parents are strong beyond imagination!

Little Gwendolyn is 9 months old and already has 2 open heart surgeries under her belt, with another one looming in the not too distant future. You will find her laughing and smiling and enjoying each moment of every day though!

Main IMageA family who's daughter has Down syndrome and is getting ready for third heart surgery Down syndrome awareness

Featuring a Tiny Warrior with Down Syndrome

The Egan’s 9-month-old daughter, Gwendolyn might struggle to weigh in at 10 pounds but her smile, strength, and determination are mighty! Gwendolyn Egan is an overcomer that will inspire you.

Little Gwendolyn has had 2 heart surgeries already and her Doctors are trying to buy her as much time as possible so she can grow stronger before her next surgery, which will require the whole family to go to Boston for a more specialized medical team. Little Gwen has been at home healing after the 2 surgeries where she ended up spending two months in the hospital!

What’s the best part of being back at home?

The best part is how well she slept her first night back in her own crib. In the hospital, she was waking up regularly between 3am and 7am to fuss. But last night, she slept mostly without a peep and didn’t even wake up until 8am! I didn’t even realize, until last night, how deeply impacted her rest and development must have been by the constant noise and interruptions in her hospital room, even at night.

                                                                                      Says her mom, Jessica 

Most of us can only imagine having our child in the hospital for two months at a time. From the emotional roller-coaster of fear, worry, and then elation at the smallest bit of progress; to the sleepless nights and obstacles of meeting everyday living needs. The hurdles of everyday living are frequent, cumbersome, and draining.

Hard doesn’t even begin to describe it.


Think about it. Almost any parent who gets a diagnosis of Down syndrome for their little one goes through a torrential flood of scary feelings.

Most of us would describe it as a very dark time. It is not the future we had planned for our little one and many times we don’t know the possibilities or joys that a person with this diagnosis will have. Dealing with health issues in so short a time span could be crippling! However, time and time again I see strength, determination, and joyfulness displayed in these amazing families!  


Some of the health concerns for people with Down syndrome are:

  • Heart defects (47%  of  all babies with Down syndrome are born with a heart defect)
  • Leukemia (10 to 20 fold risk)
  • Thyroid (Thyroid disorders are more prevalent among individuals with Down syndrome)
  • Hearing (Up to 80% of children with Down syndrome experience hearing loss, sometimes severe)
  • Vision (People with Down syndrome are more likely to experience vision disorders such as short-sightedness, long-sightedness, and astigmatism)
  • Sleep Problems (Studies have reported a high incidence of sleep disturbance among children and adolescents with Down syndrome)



Likewise, the  Egans show amazing strength and their giving spirit is inspiring! On any given day you will see them pointing to other’s need and trying to help those around them! Jessica is always focused on the positive and her Instagram page about Gwendolyn is always a bright, cheery spot! She chooses to highlight Gwen’s strength and determination and the everyday blessings of life along with celebrating BIG each tiny victory!


Movement Props for Down Syndrome Awareness

Bear Paw Creek has been a friend and advocate for the Down syndrome community for a long time and each year they choose a group or individual cause to highlight. This year they have chosen The Egan Family because of Gwen’s bright determination and strength.

Because of Gwendolyn’s surmounting medical bills and the financial hardship of having to go so far for surgery and extended hospital stays Bear Paw Creek would like to do a small part to help out!


We are excited to announce that 10% of all Bear Paw Creeks profits for the month of October will go toward the Egan family in honor of Down Syndrome Awareness Month


Baby with heart pajamas on. heart surgeries, Down syndrome awareness month

What Can YOU Do for Down Syndrome Awareness Month?

#1 Just go ahead and make your purchases as usual! Treat your little one to some Bean Bags  Scarves or Streamers! If you are a teacher or coop leader now is the time to purchase that Stretchy Band you’ve been eyeing! Then go about your life knowing 10% of that purchase went to this sweet, tiny warrior. Really, it’s that simple. We’ve got your back!

#2 Keep an eye out on Bear Paw Creek’s Instagram account for an Awesome Giveaway! 

#3 Follow Our Sweet Gwendolyn on Instagram for more inspiration and an overload of cuteness!

#4 Share with your friends!

#5 Visit Jessica’s Website Our Sweet Gwendolyn to connect further


A family who's baby has Down syndrome and multiple heart surgery.-Down syndrome awareness month by Bear Paw Creek




Joy is a mom of 6 (ages 5-26) who has a passion for encouraging moms! With three already grown up, married and having families of their own, three still at home, 2 kids with Down syndrome, and having been through a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis in a teen she has definately been through some ups and downs. However, she believes that each mom is divinely appointed and equipped to raise her particular kid(s) better than anyone else in the world no matter how it may feel on any particular day! She wants to inspire Your Mom heart as well as making the more practical aspects of running a household a tad easier over at

DiscoverDance Movement Prop Addition and Learning Opportunity

Awhile ago I got connected with Andrea over at DiscoverDance Early Childhood Dance Education.  This connections brought her jeweled colors to the stretchy band, scarves, bean bags, and balloon ball.

Today I added the connect-a-stretchy band and some hoop ribbon streamers in her colors!

She also has some very exciting things going on, including a free download “Discover the Power of Props.”  Read on!

DiscoverDance and Bear Paw Creek CollaborationMAIN IMAGE

Learn Why Props Are in the Top 3

Here is what Andrea has to say! 

Props, props, and more PROPS! Learn why props are one of the top 3 key elements to a successful early childhood dance program tomorrow at 1pm CST here on Facebook.

PLUS-viewers will receive a coupon code to receive a discount on the DiscoverDance Collection through our partnership with Bear Paw Creek, LLC!

Tired of using the same ol’ props?

Have a stash collecting dust in storage?
This free guide includes over 30 different props, 14 class activities, how and why to use them, and where to shop. Everything you need to bring fresh, creative, and fun ideas to your little ones in one place!

DiscoverDance Creative Movement Props Available by Bear Paw Creek

DD Medium Stretchy Band

DD Connect-a-Stretchy Band

DD Bean Bags

DD Creative Movement Scarves

DD Balloon Ball

DD Hoop Ribbon Streamers

Playlist Featuring 11 Videos with DiscoverDance Props

(You don’t want to miss these!)

Janet Stephens is the founder and creator behind Bear Paw Creek’s creative movement props and bags. She is passionate about learning and sharing along the way.

12 Ideas to Reimagine Teaching with Beanbags

Fresh ideas for using bean bags this fall in the music room or choral rehearsal.

As summer vacation draws to a close, it is always fun to get some fresh ideas for the beginning of the school year.  So go ahead and add some ways to use the bean bags from Bear Paw Creek to your repertoire! These activities will also bring giggles and smiles to teaching the potentially humdrum foundations of music making. 

This blog will share activities using beanbags not only the classroom, but also in choral rehearsal. In addition, at the end of the post is a game I developed exclusively for you, the fans of Bear Paw Creek’s Blog!  This game is open-ended, so with some poster board and markers, and of course, beanbags, you can make a delightful game that can address any skill your students need to work on.

I have been thinking about beanbags a lot lately. It is a shame for a prop that raises the spirits of students and teachers alike to be overlooked. Especially considering its durability and versatility. Why don’t we use them more?  And, if we don’t have them, why not? They are certainly one of the most affordable props out there.  In fact, has bean bags for just $20 per dozen, and you can even choose the bright or muted color palette or texture that works best for your students’ needs.

If the obstacle is a lack of awareness of how to use this awesome prop, then let’s overcome it, with these 12 ideas that will help you to reimagine teaching with beanbags. These ideas include activities that I have developed, as well as some existing activities that I have adapted to beanbags, not to mention the exclusive game at the end of this blog.

Let’s get you excited for the new school year, and for using that underdog of props, beanbags!

Bean Bag Activities for the Classroom

1.Ostinato Bean Bags: Teach your ostinato, but in a kinesthetic way. Students toss the bean bag from hand-to-hand in rhythm with their singing.

2. Quick Sort: Looking for a fast way to divide students up for an activity?  If you have a variety of bean bag colors then you can hand out bean bags in a color-coded manner to designate groups/activities.  For example, if you wanted to have a sound ensemble activity, you could designate red=sung sounds, yellow=spoken sounds, orange=whisper sounds etc, and a next step would be holding up a red beanbag to start the sung group’s performances.

3. Bean Bag Engagement: Not that kind of engagement! I like to use props like the bean bags to call on students. It is an incredibly easy way to infuse more mundane tasks with fun.  I also like to have the students use this method to call on each other, which makes your existing activity even more entertaining.

4. Bean Bag SMART Notebooks: There are some great SMART notebooks available that allow students to randomly select a question or challenge by popping a bubble. Rather than walking up and popping it, you can safely have student underhand toss a bean bag at the board. My students love this method!  SMART Notebook exchange has “Candy Rhythms Koosh Ball Game” and Teachers Pay Teachers has several as well.

5. Bean Bag Shakers: If you are a new teacher that doesn’t have many props or an itinerant teacher trying to reduce how much equipment you move, consider using bean bags as a percussion instrument. You can shake or tap it, and the volume is low, so it may be just right if you have students with sound sensitivity.

6. Steady Beat Bags: When students are still learning to find the steady beat, a strategy is to have the student gently tap their chest. Putting a bean bag in that hand makes it more fun, and adds more sensation. 

Bean Bag Activities for the Classroom or Choral Rehearsal

7. Treble or Bass Clef Toss: Use masking tape to create a five line staff on the floor and have students toss a bean bag onto the staff. Then they name the note based on which line or space it lands on. Another option would be drawing the staff on poster board or other moveable surfaces to make a portable version if you are an itinerant teacher.

8. Bean Bag Rhythm: A variation on the ostinato bean bag activity above, requiring students that are struggling with a particular rhythm to toss the beanbag to the steady beat.  This could be up and down in one hand or hand-to-hand as they say rhythm syllables, chant the lyrics in rhythm, or sing the troublesome section.

9. Bean Bag Note Values: I was introduced to this activity with tennis balls, and it works great with bean bags too. Assign each note value a bean bag movement that will take an appropriate amount of time. For example: two eighth notes= fast hand-to-hand toss, quarter note= single hand toss, half note= go around body 1st beat in front of body 2nd beat in back, whole note= same as half but stopping in four points- 1 front, 2 side, 3 back, and 4 other side.  Students should verbalize the counts as another pathway to learning. Display the note value students are performing so that they can make the connections between the symbol, the movement and value.  Once the students are proficient, I turn on pop music and have the students perform various note values to the beat, continuing to display the note symbols and point to them throughout.


Bean Bag Activities for Choral Rehearsal

10. Part Throw: If singers are forgetting that they don’t sing in a particular section, play a game!  As that section begins, have the forgetful singers toss their beanbag to a chorus member who is supposed to sing that part.  It will be so memorable that they will probably not make that mistake again.

11. Projection Toss:  This thrilling activity was intended for adults using a football, but I have adapted it here for children using beanbags. If your chorus is not projecting their voices to the back of the rehearsal space, try having them send their sound out with the bean bag by tossing it forward (after you get out of the way!). Alternatively, singers could get into pairs and have them sing a phrase tossing to their partner and then their partner sings a phrase tossing it back.


Here it is… your exclusive open-ended game:

The Bullseye of Music!

As I was thinking about ways to use bean bags that would be fun and engaging for our students, I also factored in that we teachers don’t necessarily have much time to craft. So if I was going to create something, I wanted it to be a game that could be used for different units.  The result is a game that can be used throught the year, with any age and the only thing you’ll need to change is the Fact Sheet.  

The 12th activity, The Bullseye of Music! :

How it works:

  1. Have two children, or the whole class play.
  2. Child A throws the bean bag at the bullseye.
  3. Child B (the opponent or class representative) announces the color which their bean bag hit.
  4. Child A puts the tip of a pencil into a paper clip in the center of the spinner for that color and flicks it. The paper clip indicates a number.
  5. Child B gives Child A the task or question based on the color and number, and they have a blast performing it!                                                                                                                                                                 

I didn’t design this for keeping score so there isn’t a plan for that, but you could certainly develop one.  The game is so engaging because the target requires skill and the spinner is pure chance.  I put the arts Integration/extra fun activities in the center, on red, to make them harder to get. 

How to Make Bullseye of Music Game Pieces:

Materials: Foam poster board, For tracing- a frying pan & small bowl, Poster markers/paint, Pencil, Paper clip, Paper, Sheet protector/clipboard


  1. Target– Sketch the biggest possible circle you can on the poster board
  2.  Trace frying pan and small bowl creating the concentric circles of a target
  3.  Color each ring in a different color (I went the traditional route of red yellow and blue)
  4.  Spinner– On the paper, use the small bowl to trace three circles and coordinate the colors to match the circles on the target
  5.  Divide the circles into five sections (or more) and number them
  6.  Fact Sheet– create blue questions or activities of an easy level and number them 1-5 to match the spinner, and repeat for yellow   being medium level and red being difficult/super fun. Zoom in on the image above for an example Fact Sheet.
  7.  Print out Fact Sheet and slip into a sheet protector and plan to give to Child B or the Opponent described above.
  8.  Once the materials are done, grab your Bear Paw Creek bean bags, pencil and a paper clip and start having a fantastic time learning new concepts or reviewing!

Remember, all you have to do from here is create a new Fact Sheet to totally change the game!

Thanks: My appreciation to my music teacher colleagues in Anne Arundel County, MD for being such wonderful teachers and collaborators.

I hope you enjoy your bean bags in the classroom or rehearsal all the more for having some new ideas.

BPC has a great selection of bean bags right here on

Leah Murthy is a music educator, performer and military spouse. She is currently a Doctoral candidate in Music Education at Boston University, holds a Master’s in Music Education from The Boston Conservatory, has 15 years experience teaching music and recent contributions to professional journals such as The American Organist and The Chorister. When she is not teaching music in Maryland, or playing with her two little girls, she is in Washington D.C. conducting for The National Children’s Chorus.

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