Bean Bag Games
Bean bag games make use of a fun and inexpensive prop for gross motor activities. Younger children may find beanbags easier to handle than a ball, and because beanbags can’t roll away, they may be less frustrating for the child with poor coordination skills. Try these fun ideas to develop your child’s gross motor skills. Some of the games suggested can make great kids party games too!
Bean Bag Games for Balance Skills:
Have your child balance a beanbag on the head while walking along a balance beam, a length of rope, or along a line marked out on the ground.
If this is easy, make it more difficult by doing a heel-to-toe walk.
A more challenging activity is to walk around obstacles, or to touch an object on the floor along the way while keeping the beanbag on their heads.
Bean Bag Games for Coordination:
Bean Bag Toss:
This develops hand-eye coordination. Show your child how to toss a bean bag gently into the air and then catch again. Younger children can do a very gentle toss, older kids can toss just above head level.
Increase the challenge by introducing a hand-clap between tossing and catching. (ie toss, clap, catch), or a one-handed catch for older kids.
For a child whose hand-eye coordination is particularly poor, tie the beanbag into a vegetable net bag, and suspend it from a doorway or a tree branch with a rope. The child can then practice pushing the beanbag away and catching it again.
Bean Bag Relay:
You need a few kids or family members for this – get them to stand in a line, one behind the other. Put a pile of beanbags in the front, and a bucket at the back. The child in front grabs a bean bag and passes it overhead to the child behind and so on, until the last child pops it in the bucket, and then runs to the front to repeat the relay.
Your child will be using hand-eye coordination to accurately receive and pass the bean bag without dropping it, and bilateral coordination by using both hands together.
Bean Bag Games to Boost Crossing the Midline:
Tossing a beanbag at a target is good for coordination skills, but this activity can also be adapted to encourage children to cross the imaginary midline of their body. Have your child sit on the floor cross-legged, or kneeling.
A right-handed child should use the right hand to throw beanbags across the body space to a target on the left side. A left-handed child would throw beanbags to a target on the right side.
Ideas: an easy target would be to hit a wall or simply get the bean bag over a line. A harder target would be a hoop on the wall, or a cardboard cutout face with a mouth for the bean bags.
Improving General Endurance:
If your child needs to improve physical endurance, then making use of a bean bag can make a boring exercise seem more fun!
Put a pile of beanbags at one side of the yard and a bucket at the other, and have your child hop, run, jump, crawl or skip to take the bean bag to the bucket – your child can either hold the beanbag, balance it on the head, or balance it on an outstretched arm.
You could even try a crab-walk with a beanbag on the tummy, or leopard crawl with a beanbag on the back. You could turn this into a relay if there are a couple of kids around, or ask your child to beat his own personal time on each relay.
Try some more gross motor activities from OT Mom, or find out more about how to improve your child’s coordination skills.
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