Ocean Creature Bean Bag Toss

Here’s a perfect example of my craft to-do list being too long for the amount of time I actually have. The idea for this project came to me last fall, which is also when I bought all the materials… they’ve just been sitting around until now.

Over the summer, Myla and I spent most mornings at the playground - at least three hours each time we went, if not longer. For most of that time, Myla would be going non-stop at full speed - she’s a climber and a dare devil. There were times she even did cartwheels down the big-kid slides, hardly phased by the experience - always going back for more. After these mornings, Myla started napping like most kids her age - it just took a lot of work to get her there. Which is why as soon as the cooler months set in and I knew it would soon become too chilly to play outside for very long, I became really worried - how was I supposed to help Myla with all this energy that she clearly needed to release? (And to make sure Mommy got a few hours of peace in the afternoons.)

For starters, there are certain gifts we requested for her birthday and Christmas which we knew would help her: a ball pit, a trampoline that is great for jumping and hanging up-side-down on, a tricycle and a push bike - both of which we let her ride indoors. In addition, we have a big couch for doing superhero-flying jumps and lots of items to jump off of. Luckily, between those and indoor “playgrounds” - we survived this winter as it has been brutally cold.  

Anyways, I wanted to make her this bean bag throw toss game to help direct her “throwing energy” away from balls and toys to the bean bags instead. And perhaps use the numbers 1, 2 and 3 as the number of times she would have to do something like jump, spin or stomp, each time a bean bag would land on that number. As it turns out, all the other activities were enough, but I still thought this would be a good game to help hone her throwing skills. Girl’s got a good arm. Down the road, she could also use it to practice simple math by adding up points.

Of course I wanted to make this simple game visually fun - so what would be more fun than throwing sea creatures into an ocean? To begin, I didn’t want another large toy to find a home for so instead of the traditional cornhole wooden box, I opted to make a point target out of fabric that could be rolled up and put away. I just needed to figure out how to make sure the fabric target stayed flat when the bags hit it. As for the bean bags, many, many years ago I was given a sand-filled, little man bean bag (pictured at right) which served as my inspiration for making the bean bags into fun shapes.

For the point target and bean bags, I used fabric quarters from Joanne’s (an inexpensive way to buy small quantities of a certain fabric). For the bean bags, I chose to stuff them with crystal fill for vases. Although rice, beans and sand all make good fillings for bean bags, the thought of them getting wet (rice/beans) or exploding all over our wood floors (sand), just made my skin crawl. I did find some plastic bean filling online, but preferred to just buy something available in the store - and this crystal fill actually works really well. For the underside of the point target, a single roll of cabinet drawer liner worked perfectly. Non-skid carpet padding would work good too.

I drew my pattern pieces leaving extra seam allowances. After stitching each piece, I trimmed and made notches so they flipped inside out nicely. I decided to sew some of the extruding parts by themselves and keep them flat rather than stuffing them - figured it might help avoid a bean bag explosion. I made sure to leave almost an inch unstitched which I hand sewed closed after filling them. For the point target, I simply folded over one edge of the fabric and stitched a wavy line which I later trimmed, notched and flipped inside out. I then top-stitched it onto the next piece and repeated that one more time until I had my three sections. I traced numbers onto some steam-a-seam (same material used on the baby onesies, father’s day t-shirts, gnome costume, and homemade patch) and ironed them onto the the front of the point target. Then I laid out the drawer liner, sticky side up, on the reverse of the point target - folded and stitched around the whole thing.

Here’s Justin explaining to Myla how to toss the bean bags onto the point target. After tossing a few from a distance, she started running up to the point target and slamming down the bean bags on the numbers as she screamed them out: “ONE… TWO… THREE!!!” 

Oh, and see that shirt Justin has on? It’s the Pint t-shirt I made him for father’s day - He still wears it!!! I also made a matching Half-Pint t-shirt for Myla, which made for some really cute father/daughter pictures.