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Family Fun

Make It, Take It, Play It

Beanbags are easy to make, easy to take and fun to play with alone or in a group.

“Otedama” is a traditional Japanese game played with 5 small beanbags (or ojami.) When the game was originally created, in the 9th century, the beanbags were often made by grandmothers who used scraps of kimonos. You can use old t-shirts or other small pieces of cloth to make them. Then play an endless array of games that improve eye-hand coordination and dexterity.

For the beanbags:
•   5 pieces of cotton fabric 4 x 6.5 inches each
•   use 5 different color fabrics or
•   use one larger piece and cut it up
•   Needle and thread
•   10 oz. dried lentils or black beans

For the carrying bag:
•   One 8.5 x 11-inch piece of fabric
•   Needle and thread
•   12-inch cord

Make It
•   Lay out one piece of 4 X 6.5-inch fabric
•   Fold the fabric in half so that the short edges meet
•   Turn the “good” side of the fabric inwards
•   Pin long side evenly
•   Stitch the pinned side
•   Use a simple running stitch with small stitches
•   Use a sewing machine for speed
•   Be sure to tie solid knots at both ends of your threads
•   Stitch one short side
•   Make a large knot at the end of the thread so it does not pull through the fabric
•   Use small stitches and gather the fabric together as you go
•   Pull tightly together, then knot the thread securely
•   Turn the fabric the right way out and hold the gathered edge at the bottom
•   Turn the top edge in by about ½ inch
•   Sew around the top with large gathering stitches
•   Do not finish off the edge, and leave the needle on the thread
•   Measure out 2 oz. of beans or lentils
•   Pour the beans into the fabric tube
•   Gather the fabric top tightly with thread still on needle
•   Stitch closed securely
•   Make a few extra stitches through the top from one side to the other,
    just to make sure all the beans stay inside!
•   Repeat sewing and filling remaining 4 beanbags

Take It
•   Make a carrying bag using the same basic instructions for the smaller bags,
    using an 8.5 x11 inch piece of fabric
•   Finish the top by threading a cord through the folded edge
•   Knot the cord to cinch the bag easily

Play It
Simply tossing beanbags to one another is easy. But play these fun, challenging games and you’ll improve eye-hand coordination.

Scatter and Switch
•   Scatter the five beanbags on the floor
•   Pick up one and toss it into the air with hand #1
•   Catch it with hand #1
•   Transfer bean bag to hand #2
•   Pick up another beanbag and toss it into the air and catch it with hand #1
•   ithout dropping the first bag, transfer the second bag to hand #2
•   Repeat until you have five beanbags in one hand
•   Make it more difficult by catching bags in hand #2 while also
    holding the bags in that hand

Back of the Hand
•   Throw one beanbag with hand #1
•   Catch it on the back of hand #2
•   Throw it from the back of the hand #2 and catch it with hand #1
•   Make it more difficult by tossing it from the back of one hand to the back
    of the other hand

Top of the Foot
•   Balance the beanbag on your right foot
•   Toss it and catch it with the same foot
•   Switch the beanbag to the left foot and toss and catch with that foot
•   Make it more difficult by tossing from one foot and catching with the other

Turn, Clap, Jump, Balance
•   Throw a beanbag in the air, turn around, and catch it
•   Throw the beanbag up and backwards over your head and
    catch it behind your back
•   Throw the beanbag in the air, clap your hands once, and catch it
•   Clap your hands twice, then three times, then more
•   Clap your hands under your right leg or left leg before catching it
•   Throw the beanbag up, jump, and catch it.
•   Jmp twice. Jump three times!
•   Balance the beanbag on your head or one on each shoulder
•   Kneel down and stand up again
•   Climb the stairs
•   Jump and twist
•   Continue to play and increase the number of times you can keep the
    beanbags balanced while moving

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