What You’ll Need
- 6 old crew-style or knee-high socks, preferably in bright colors or patterns—make sure they’re clean, dry, and hole-free
- ½ cup measuring scoop
- 3 to 4 cups dried beans, uncooked rice, or un-popped popcorn kernels A funnel (optional, for filling socks)
- Small hair elastics or rubber bands (optional, for securing filled socks)
- 3 buckets, shoeboxes, metal mixing bowls, or other containers in different sizes, each large enough to catch at least one bean bag
Note: Supervise young children when using small materials like dried beans and rubber bands.
1. Turn each sock inside out.
2. Using the measuring scoop, fill each sock with ½ cup of dried beans by pouring them through the opening. When filled, the toes and foot of the sock should feel somewhere right between firm and floppy. (Feel free to adjust the amount of filling depending on the size of your socks.)
3. Tie a knot in each sock just above the point where the filling ends. (If this is difficult to do, tightly wind a hair elastic or rubber band around the sock to keep the filling from spilling out.)
4. Pull the “tail” of extra fabric over and around the knot and the filled portion of each sock so that it covers the bean-filled portion; secure it with an elastic if needed. When you’re finished, the right side of your socks will be facing out. You’ve now created 6 zany-looking, double-layer bean bags that are hefty enough for tossing, soft enough for catching, and sturdy enough to withstand lots of play.
1. Find a flat, outdoor space that measures about 8 to 10 feet across. Set the 3 containers on the ground in a straight line near one end of your play space, each about 2 feet apart. These are your tossing targets. The smallest container will be worth 3 points, the middle-sized container will be worth 2 points, and the largest container will be worth 1 point.
2. Bring players and bean bags to the other end of the play space, and show them how far they must stand from the targets to throw their bean bags.
3. Designate a grown-up or older child to help keep score, and determine the high score one must reach to win the game. (Think about a score of 15 points for a game with very young players, and increase it to match the skill and ages of older players.)
4. Give the youngest player all six bean bags to begin.
Variation for younger players: Set a single, large bucket or box at the end of the play space as your tossing target, and score one point for each toss than lands inside.
1. Player 1 tosses the bean bags underhand, one at a time, toward the targets, trying to score as many points as possible.
2. If a bean bag lands inside a target, the player scores that number of points. If it lands balanced on the rim or edge of the target without knocking it over, it scores double that number of points. If it knocks the target over (even if it lands inside) or lands outside of the target, it scores 0 points.
3. When all the bean bags have been tossed, the scorekeeper notes Player 1’s points earned. Player 1 gathers up the bean bags and gives them to next player.
4. Players take turns until everyone has had at least 3 chances to toss. The first one to reach the high score wins!
When you’re done tossing at the targets, make up your own games. Try competing for points as teams, juggling, and playing toss-and-catch. Or, cut round openings in recycled cardboard boxes to make your own cornhole game.