By now I’m sure you’ve heard of the dried bean box for your kids to play. This is by far one of my favorite rainy day activities. It’s great for various age groups and easy to clean up. I do have a few tips on how to do it right. This activity can quickly turn disaterous as you can imagine with thousands of beans all over the house! Here are some tips to keep it containted and fun!
Blanket: I like to lay out a large blanket to put the bean box on. This makes for easy cleanup. Make sure your kids know to keep it on the blanket. They can dump it out all they want. They must know that they cannot throw the beans around. It seems like fun but this is a great way to practice listening and self control.
Bowls and spoons: Some of the kids like to play pretend cooking with the beans. We like to use plastic, wood, or metal bowls and spoons. They all make different sounds when the beans are poured into them. This can be a great discussion and exploration time as your kiddos bang their spoons and pour the beans over various materials.
Magnet play: We recently bought a magnet set which I had been eyeing for a long time. We found paper clips and other materials around the house. Threw them in the bean box and then fished them out with our magnets. This was so fun and the kids began searching for other magnetic items to fish out of the box. This kept them busy for most of the afternoon.
Small creatures: Yet another way to keep the bean box interesting is to put miniature dinosaurs, sea creatures, or tiny cars. Anything that is small can be a whole new tiny world experience in the bean box. My kids like to use their sea creatures and hide them under the beans and “surprise” the other animals when they come up out of the “water”.
Sorting and Patterns: We have just started working on sorting and patterns with Peanut. She is mildly interested but really enjoys sorting all the different types and color of beans. Then we use them to make patterns and she likes to pretend they are different ingredients for her various cooking concoctions. Sometimes with the older kids we will get out some playdough and make patterns.
Sensory Play: Of course the obvious aspect is that this is a sensory activity. My littlest Sprout like to climb in the box and feel around with her fingers and toes. It is a great sensory activity and even at a young age (12 months +) she can begin to follow instructions of not eating the beans and having self control not to kick them all over the place.
In short, bean boxes are great, but you do have to be attentive and organized. You cannot leave the kids alone with the beans or they will surely dump them all out and make a mess for you to clean up. Also, you are the facilitator and if they see you playing with the beans in a certain way they are sure to follow your lead! Get in there and play with your kids! It’s so much fun and I’m sure you’ll all enjoy it. At the end there is little clean up. Just pick some of the items you put in, fold the blanket, dump the beans back in the box and voila! You’re done!
How do you play with your bean box? I’d love to hear even more creative ideas!