All month long Sandra from Sing, Play, Create is posting movement activities for the following movement props: stretchy bands, parachutes, bean bags, and scarves/streamers.
I also have some new bean bags I created for a custom order, and I think others might want them too.
Plus a big giveaway is under way this month – 13 more days to enter! Be sure to enter to win this set of movement props and resources from Sing, Play, Create.
NEW Bean Bag Options Created at Bear Paw Creek
A few months ago I had a special order request from a customer for extra bean bag colors. The reason why was because of the new Dial 4 testing requirements that uses in her child care program.
Along with the standard rainbow colors they have added in: pink, grey, black, brown, white.
Since I like working in groups of six for many or our products, I also added in tan. Check them out!
Now I need to decide how to add them to the site? Would you like to see a set of 12, one of each color, or set of 24 with two of each color?
I have also updated our textured bean bags with a new texture! I’m always trying to improve and I had two textures that were not very different so I took some of my heavy weave mesh and put it on top of a fun print. Problem solved!
[Tweet “Check out these five reasons to play bean bag games, and HUGE giveaway.”]
Why Bean Bags?
Now for the five reasons to play with bean bags!
1- Bean Bag Games Feel like “Playing”.
2- Bean Bag Games Foster Learning.
3- Bean Bag Games are Great Transition Activities
4- Bean Bag Games Build Classroom Community
5- Bean Bag Games are FUN!
Bean bags are one of the many things in early childhood that are thought of as ‘toys’ and yet they are so much more than that.
It’s almost as if ‘toy’ is a bad word, like there is no time for toys in early childhood. We must get ready for school! Toys are the tools of childhood. It is with toys that many skills are developed because it is through play we learn how to navigate the world. Bean bags are fun toys.
Let’s break down the things that are learned when playing with bean bags.
Playing with Bean Bags and Learning
The first aspect is tactile. Children are feeling them. Squishing them. Poking them. This helps to develop the FINE MOTOR SKILLS of the fingers. When they push down on the beans in the middlle and they move, that’s SCIENCE! They are learning displacement. When they toss a bean bag up in the air and it comes down, that’s gravity. None of these concepts need to be named. They can just happen while children’s brains get wired for understanding the concept when the time comes.
There are many songs using bean bags. I, myself, have composed a few. The combination of music with the bean bag activities intensifies the learning experience. Music helps the children utilize the bean bags in a constructive way while making it easier to understand. Because of music, they will retain what they’ve learned a bit longer as well.
The song “I’ve Got a Bean Bag” encourages children to try different motor skills. It’s simple and children can be successful.
I’ve got a bean bag. Yes. I’ve got a bean bag
I throw it up. And, catch it when it comes down
I’ve got a bean bag. Yes. I’ve got a bean bag
I throw it to my friend and catch it when she throws it back
I’ve got a bean bag. Yes. I’ve got a bean bag
Put it on my foot and kick it up. Catch it when it comes down
I’ve got a bean bag. Yes. I’ve got a bean bag
I throw it up and catch it when it comes down.
[Tweet “Music with Mar shares how you can incorporate learning with bean bags.”]
Another fun thing to do with bean bags is walk and balance with one on your head or shoulder. This is important for VESTIBULAR strengthening. By taking the bean bag and placing it on different parts of the body, children are learning body parts – LANGUAGE
When using bean bags with children, I encourage them to ‘try what I’m doing’ and ‘show me what you’re doing’. This allows for you to show them ideas and acknowledges they, too, can think of things to do. CREATIVE THINKING as well as CONFIDENCE. I also ask them to share with a friend and trade bean bags. SOCIAL INTERACTION
Maryann “Mar.” Harman is a music educator with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music and a Master’s in Education, with an emphasis in Early Childhood and is certified in Level I Orff. These degrees contribute to her ability to write songs that are musically and educationally sound for children as well as fun and easy to use for teachers and parents. She is the founder of the internationally-enjoyed Music with Mar. Brain Research Based program, Music with Mar. International (Beijing, China) and hosted BAM! Radio Music and Learning Channel. “My passion is tying together the effectiveness of music in overall development with the current research and creating music / music activities to help parents / teachers put it in action.”
Are you looking for a few low-prep games to inspire thanksgiving on the part of your students, your family and even yourself?
Well, here are three you can play with bean bags.
For two of the games, bean bags are all you’ll need. For the last one, you’ll need some buckets or a few bowls (or boxes… Whatever you have handy.) Each of these games can take up just fifteen minutes or can be played as long as you like.
Thanksgiving is good for the soul.
Autumn is a time to enjoy sweaters, cool walks, and baking sweets and bread without overheating the house.
Yet everything seems to speed up this time of year and we can find the holidays upon us if we dare to blink. In the stores we see Thanksgiving items laid out beside Christmas decorations before October has even closed her door. This used to frustrate me, but honestly, this year I’m filled with anticipation because Thanksgiving has become one of my favorite celebrations.
Woven throughout my family’s history, is a struggle with various kinds of depression and anxiety. As I grew into a woman, my mom shared that history with me and she also shared with me the role thanksgiving can play in refocusing our thoughts.
My mom relied on three strategies when she was depressed:
Focusing on her belief in the goodness and love of God and casting her cares on Him.
Giving thanks for past graces and gifts in her life.
Finding ways to bless other people.
Depression is no light matter, and these are not easy-as-pie strategies, in fact, body chemistry is often involved in depression. However, these strategies have played a part in keeping me going through my bouts with nonclinical depression.
A spirit of thankfulness helps us and blesses other people as we express our appreciation for them.
Thanksgiving is an attitude we want to instill in our children as much for their benefit as for the benefit of others.
Memories of hard times and how we made it through, are especially strengthening (as much as those memories of good times.)
In the midst of the coming Thanksgiving season, these fun games can turn our hearts toward being thankful and perhaps spark some good conversations about memories of times past.
“The unthankful heart… discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!” -Henry Ward Beecher
[Tweet ““…but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!” -Henry Ward Beecher”]
Here are three fun & simple bean bag games for promoting thankfulness.
These games can be played in or out of doors depending on the weather in your neck of the woods. They work great:
In a preschool with little ones.
For a rainy day recess at school.
In your living room for a circle-time homeschool activity.
For recreation time in a nursing home.
For Sunday school or youth group time.
For your family on Thanksgiving Day, when the kids are restless.
You’ll need one bean bag for this game.
Have everyone sit in a circle facing each other (on the floor or in chairs.)
One person has a bean bag in his hand.
He tells what how he is thankful for someone else in the circle, then tosses the bean bag to that person.
That person tells how she is thankful for someone else in the circle and tosses the bean bag to that person.
Make sure the teacher is also seated in the circle so that he or she can make sure that thankfulness can be expressed for each child in the circle. If needed the teacher start by being the one to express thankfulness for each child and having that child toss the bean bag back after she has tossed it to him. The teacher then repeats this until each child has heard what the teacher is thankful for in that child.
You’ll need one bean bag for this game.
Have everyone sit in a circle facing each other.
Start by saying something you are thankful for that starts with the letter A.
Toss or hand the bean bag to the person beside you.
That person tells something she is thankful for which starts with the letter B.
Continue around the circle until you get to Z.
Don’t worry if this gets a little silly. The point is to have fun and get the juices going about being thankful. Another variation is to put on music and pass it around until the music stops, then have that person tell the thing that he is thankful for. Turn the music back on and continue around until it stops, then let the next person say what he’s thankful for.
You’ll need a dozen bean bags for this game and twelve sheets of paper.
Put the sheets of paper side by side in sets of threes on the floor or on a table (no drinks, snacks or breakables on the table please.)
On the papers write one of the following words, so that each set of papers has one of each word:
Divide everyone into four groups (each group will have three bean bags). If you only have a few people, then just make two groups.
When you say, “Go!”
The person at the front of the line says a person’s name for which he is thankful then tosses a beanbag in the bowl marked People.
He then tells something he is thankful for and tosses the bean bag in the bowl marked Things.
Lastly, he tosses a bean bag in the bowl marked Memory as he tells of something he’s thankful for doing.
He then picks up the bean bags out of the bowl and passes it to the next person in line.
The next person repeats steps four and five.
A few important notes: If you have a student in class who has trouble with speech, skip saying “Go!” and having the groups race each other. Instead, make it a turn-taking activity. You can still split large classes into four groups but have them go to different corners of the room to take turns.
This is a game which would be fun to play intergenerationally as younger people could share in the memories of their grandparents.
A variation of this game which might work well in a nursing home would be to tape off the floor in the middle of the sitting area into four squares with a subject for each square which could be marked: Place, Person, Memory, Food. The residents could sit in the chairs and in wheelchairs surrounding the squares. If the bean bag lands on memory, the person tossing the bean bag can tell of a person they are thankful for. If the bean bag lands on place she can tell of a favorite place she is thankful for.
Print out these bean bag games and take them with you.
I know it’s handy to be able to file ideas like this, so feel free to print out this pdf of these games and take them with you to class, or wherever you’ll be using them.
What games will you be playing to connect and get the “wiggles” out with your kids this Thanksgiving? Leave a note in the comments and share your ideas with us.
Hello, my name is Jenette Clay. I’m a freelance writer, but most of all a wife, mom, daughter and friend. I blog at www.mywordsforhire.com about how small businesses can improve their internet presence. I’m thankful for the inspiration and encouragement Janet has given me as a friend and client through Bear Paw Creek. If you’re looking for an example of how to build an effective small business website, Bear Paw Creek is a great place to start.
I’m a home-schooling mom and a free-lancing writer. I don’t love to be in charge, but I have to be, so I step up to the plate (because I love my kids). I’m so thankful for teachers who step up to the plate and pour their lives out for children everyday. You inspire me.
Ready to get back to school? I’m sharing games that help kids learn.
We all know how important movement and play are in children’s development, but with so much to learn it’s easy for our children to spend too much time trying to sit still.
Why fight their need to squirm?
Learning facts: Make it fun!
When my boys were young they memorized a whole host of math facts by playing Math Adventures (which came with our new computer), then a Reader Rabbit game on the computer. The games were intriguing and each had a quest to be accomplished. They were colorful and filled with humor as well. That was years ago, now people use apps and online games.
Yet, with all of the apps and online educational games out there, I still haven’t found something for their younger sisters to enjoy which quite matches up to the fun and learning value. I’m sure it’s out there, but for now, I’m going with a different approach to help make memorizing facts fun.
I’m going with movement and active play as one of the tools in my box.
I’ve made up some games we can do (inside or outside) and I’m sharing them with you. All you need are bean bags, some sidewalk chalk, and Bear Paw Creek’s wonderful Connect-a-Stretchy Bands.
[Tweet “All you need are bean bags, sidewalk chalk, & Bear Paw Creek’s Connect-a-Stretchy-Bands.”]
Here’s what you can do with the stretchy bands, bean bags & chalk!
Learn your facts with hopscotch.
Draw a hopscotch grid on your sidewalk and fill in the squares with facts that you’re memorizing together. As you hop on the squares recite the facts written on the square you’re hopping to. You can use this for:
Skip counting to help with multiplication tables. For example 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18…
Addition and subtraction (you could arrange the squares so that you have two squares (with addends) followed by one with the sum etc.
Historical facts and names from one lesson. Alternatively, you could arrange events in a timeline on your grid giving two squares to major events and give pause and emphasis as you say those.
A process such as the process of evaporation, rain, water flowing from springs and rivers etc.
Creating grid for storytelling. In the first grid write, “beginning”, followed by “who/protagonist,” where,” “what”, then use two squares and write “problem/antagonist,” followed by, “struggle” then maybe “comic relief,” “climax,” and resolution. And let each of the kids take turns telling a story using your hopscotch storyboard. Let them be silly or serious, and you should take a turn as well. It’ll be good for you.
Bean bag math.
Preschool: To help make counting fun, snap the Connect-a-Stretchy Bands into individual rings and toss bean bags into them. Now count together to see how many you were able to get into the rings. Now try tossing two in each ring and count all of those bags with them. Continue with other variations.
Basic Addition and Subtraction: Set up two rings and let your students toss some in each ring. Have your students create an addition problem using the bags in the rings. This is a great way to reinforce the concept of which numbers add up together to make ten. You toss some in the first circle and let them decide how much they need in the next to make ten. To practice subtraction, remove the bean bags from one circle and ask them to use a math formula to describe what happened.
Visual Multiplication and Division: Using the stretchy band rings, ask the students to toss 9 bean bags into three of the rings making sure to have an equal amount in each. Now explain that 9 divided into 3 is like saying 9 divided into 3 groups. Ask them to take turns making more examples and explaining them to you (4 rings with 12 bean bags). For a change put one ball in each of the rings with the bean bags and ask them if they can figure out a way to describe the fraction of items in the rings which are a ball and not a bean bag.
The simplest, yet most enjoyable game: Have the students team up in pairs and practice counting or skip counting while they toss the bean bags back and forth to each other.
Stretchy band skip-counting and memory facts.
Introduction to Skip-Counting: First, take Bear Paw Creek’s wonderful Connect-a-Stretchy Bands and join them into one large ring. Have the students arrange themselves equal distance around the ring. Explain that you are going to count while emphasizing certain numbers as you count by raising up the stretchy band above your head. Tell them to follow your lead and see if they can figure out the pattern. Now you can say, “1,2,3,4, [raise the stretchy band] 5, [back down] 6,7,8,9, [up] 10, [down] 11, 12,13,14, [up] 15.” Once they catch on to what you’re doing, ask them if they think they would be able to speed it up a bit. As they get the hang of that, try using other numbers to do the same thing.
Skip-Counting Team Work: In this game, each person takes a turn saying the next number in skip counting (with the teachers coaching the first few times, if necessary). For Instance, the first student says 2 while raising up his portion of the stretchy band above his head, the next student says 4 and so on. A more complicated version (when they’re skip-counting with odd numbers) would be to raise it for the odd numbers and push it down for the even ones. Like this, “3 [up] 6 [down] 9 [up] 12 [down]. See whether your students can figure out why this works while skip counting with odd numbers but not even.
Memorizing Facts: You can use this method for reciting grammar facts, historical dates or parts of a plant as well. Moving the body as you recite facts helps your brain retain the information, so it’s very useful to do even simple motion such as swinging your arms together to move the stretchy band as you recite. Also the is movement is such a relief to kids who have a hard time concentrating when the are still for too long a period.
I’ve gotten the props that I need to do any of these activities on hand from Bear Paw Creek and I’m ready to go this year.
As a music therapist, it is important to constantly have tools and tricks in your arsenal to pull out for sessions. One of my favorite props to use as a “quick pull” is the textured bean bag set from Bear Paw Creek. The reason I love this particular set is two-fold.
One, they are durable. This is perfect for those clients and small groups that tend to be a little more aggressive with my instruments and such. Two, they provide individualized tactile stimulation. Because the bean bags have various textures, each client can choose the type of tactile sensation they want to receive. There are rough ones, smooth ones, furry ones, soft ones, bumpy ones.
In fact, I am feeling a song coming on…
“What’s in the Bag?”
This song was written to use when a client is becoming dysregulated and needs some sensory input to keep their body safe and calm. However, it quickly turned into a game similar to Touchy Feely where they had to identify what they were feeling in the bag. There are two ways you can play the game with the song. You can have the client identify what they are feeling in the bag, or you can give them a specific texture to find and they have to feel around for it in the bag.
Some benefits of this song/game are tactile stimulation, sensory regulation, following one-step directions, and turn-taking skills. A fantastic side-effect of the game is that you can begin to identify what type of sensory items your client most wants or needs. Once you pull the bean bag out, you can have the client rub it in their hands, on their arms, and see what textures they like most.
[Tweet “One of my favorite props to use as a “quick pull” is the bean bag set from Bear Paw Creek. Alyssa Wilkins, MT-BC”]
Strong Sensory Input Helps Body Communicate With Brain Effectively
Once you know what type of tactile stimulation you like most, you can use that specific bean bag for other sensory regulation strategies. A strategy I use often with my clients is deep pressure. I find that many of my clients need that strong sensory input so their body can communicate with their brain more effectively. Because not all of us are equipped with a squeeze machine, I created an activity where my clients could provide the pressure to themselves using their preferred textured bean bag.
“Squish the Bean Bag”
I like to think of this song as a deep pressure/ progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) hybrid because the clients are squishing the bean bag on a specific body part, for a given amount of time, then releasing. This provides temporary deep pressure in tandem with a contract and release strategy of PMR. I use this song at the end of most of my sessions and find that it helps ground and regulate my clients so they can leave the session calmly.
TEXTURED BEAN BAGS
These bean bags come in handy when I need a sensory intervention or an interactive social skills game. My clients respond incredibly well to the versatility of these props and it always brings a smile to their face when they see the big bag o’ bean bags come out of the cabinet. I am constantly trying to come up with new sensory regulation strategies for my clients and I hope you are able to use some of my tricks and tips!
***From Janet: Thanks Alyssa for a great post with songs! This is the last week of Autism Awareness month and we’re going to give one set of textured bean bags away. Leave a comment on this post and you’ll be entered to win. Share on social media and tag us: @bearpawcreek and/or #bearpawcreek That will get you an extra entry for each tag and share! Winner drawn on May 12.***
This blog post is already jammed packed – but here’s even MORE!
Click the image to get a list of 13 activities to do with regular and textured beans – more songs too!
Did you know that April is Autism Awareness Month?
In this post, we are discussing Natural Play Therapy for autism. Why does Yvonne Marshall love Natural Play Therapy, and what wisdom does it offer for all parents?
Also, how can you do more than be aware of autism this month? We’ll tell you!
Why Natural Play Therapy for Autism?
Autism can be isolating.
Sometimes a child with autism seeks isolation when their environment is over-stimulating. Even when the child would like to be in the company of others, coping mechanisms (called stimming) may startle others and cause them to be stand-offish.
Often people try to break that isolation by creating a fun activity and inviting the child to play. Sometimes this is successful, but often a person with autism does not respond the way we would expect.
With Natural Play Therapy, you first observe the natural play (or stimming) that the child is involved in. After a while, you may play with or beside him. You enter his world, rather than expecting that he enter yours. This creates a connection between the you and him. It breaches that isolation.
This therapy results in less stress and more understanding for everyone.
Yvonne Marshall’s 8 year old son, George, has autism. Finding Natural Play Therapy was a turning point for her and George. It helped her understand a different of way of looking at autistic behavior. Using play to enter George’s world, she has found a great way to connect with him.
[Tweet “I love NPT because it’s a non-judgmental approach, that lets us accept George where he is at, believing that he is doing the best he can. It’s about building emotional trust and strengthening relationships.”]
Use the Wisdom of Natural Play Therapy.
How can you use the wisdom of Natural Play Therapy with your children?
Observe your children. What delights them? What do they enjoy doing? Can you join in some of their play? Are there ways to let them lead in fun activities that you do together?
In the classroom, pull out a stretchy band for circle-time activities. When you are done, instead of putting them away, ask the kids what they would like to try next. If you have the Connect-a-Stretchy-Band, then you can take them apart and let the kids have time to explore using them in self-directed activity.
At home make sure there is time in your child’s day to play and unwind. My girls delight in putting on music and dancing. Provide movement scarves to add magic to their motions. Dance with them, it will lift your mood (dancing, giggles and bonding, what could be better?).
Many of the activities in a child’s life are adult-driven. By giving your child adequate time to play and explore, you can reduce their stress. Watch them play sometime, and ask if you can join. When you enter into their world through play, you communicate respect for them. You say, “I am interested in you.”
Earlier, I wrote about the isolation that a child with autism may feel.
It won’t surprise you that parents of children with autism often feel isolated as well.
As parents wade through all of the emotional and physical issues of autism, they find themselves in a world that many don’t understand. Well-meaning advice may be discouraging. Quite often they spend hours a week on research, trying to find the cause and a cure. They navigate therapy sessions, insurance paperwork, and sometimes medication.
Just as a child with autism needs his parents to come alongside him as his companion, those parents also need companions to come alongside them in this journey of care. Yvonne has this support through family and friends, including Janet Stephens, of Bear Paw Creek.
That’s why Bear Paw Creek is celebrating Autism Awareness by giving fifteen percent of sales in April to fund Yvonne’s play therapy goals:
Putting a Murphy bed in George’s room so that he has more room to play during the day with Yvonne or one of his care-givers.
Constructing a climbing area for George because he loves to climb and it is so good for him.
Fencing in the outdoor area so that George can play outside securely.
Adding some play equipment outside after the fence is built.
I have seen George’s infectious smile when he is doing something he loves. I’m picturing his smile as he enjoys climbing around with his brothers on the equipment Yvonne wants to build for him.
What can you do? Build up your kid’s resource of “playing tools”.
Buy some fun streamers for dancing (don’t forget to dance with them).
By buying movement props for your kids to play with, you’ll be doing more than being aware of autism this month. You will be coming alongside Yvonne as she improves the environment to connect with George through play.
Fifteen percent, of every dollar spent this April, goes to that goal.