A Montessori Bean Bag Toss


The classic bean bag toss is not a new concept, but I’ve found a way to apply it to some Montessori principles. These shapes can be made from the metal insets and glued on to a larger sheet of construction paper. I made these, but an older child could create this on their own. The bean bags are old jeans that I cut up and sewed together and R stuffed them with dried lima beans. When I asked him why they were called bean bags, he looked at me with a “duh” look and said very slowly, “…because they have beans in them.” Oh, I guess you made that connection, huh?

And, while I would have preferred the metal insets, I bought these for him to work on strengthening his hand muscles and learning pencil control. (Ours are actually pink and blue like the traditional insets).

The idea behind this toss is to assist the child with a new way of memorizing the names of the shapes. So often we have to memorize certain details (puzzle words, times tables, etc.), but this is a new way to apply it those kinesthetic learners (definitely my strongest learning type…I’m also a bit of a visual learner). Also great for boys – who need to express lots of movement throughout the day.

If using the Montessori Method and presenting this to a child, be sure and introduce the metal insets first, so they are familiar with some of the shapes. Then, discuss the shapes by name and discover which ones he knows and only introduce one new one at a time. That’s part of why I included a star in the above lesson. A star is not found in the Montessori metal insets, but most children will know what it is, therefore, it frees up some brain space to talk about the trapezoid.

Now, in a Montessori classroom, you would do a three-period lesson, but for R and I at home, this isn’t much fun and he resists, so I usually don’t do it in the traditional way. I have found another way – incorporating these new ideas into fun games. This is best played with two people and when you land on a shape, call out the name. Or, call out the shape first and see if you can land on it (a bit difficult for three.) But, when your child misses, you say, “Oh, you landed on the circle. I’m going to try for the trapezoid.”

This is one of my Language album “original” lessons, but I’ve seen the bean bag toss used for vocabulary building and hand-eye coordination for lots of different activities. R’s music class used it to discuss the different types of street vendors in a city (they’re studying cities this semester) and it’s a great game to play with toddlers on a rainy day when all you want to do is rip your hair out!


Have a wonderful and safe Easter. I hope you all have time to reflect on the holiday (if you celebrate) and enjoy being with family.


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