Nu­mer­i­cal Bean Bags


201 Family - - CONTENTS - – TINA MUN­SON

Nu­mer­i­cal bean bags are a fun way to learn num­bers and sim­ple arithmetic. Th­ese pleas­ingly tac­tile and sturdy bean bags are a bit la­bor-in­ten­sive, but will last a long time.

Each bean bag is a 3-inch square when com­pleted and re­quires two pieces of 4-inch square fab­ric. One bean bag for each nu­meral – zero through nine – plus one for each arith­meti­cal sign – mi­nus, plus and equals – to­tals 13 bean bags and, con­se­quently, 26 pieces of 4-inch square fab­ric. If there are no fab­ric scraps at hand, pur­chas­ing quilt squares at the fab­ric shop is a good al­ter­na­tive.


Use the pen­cil and ruler to draw a 4-inch square on the light­weight card­board. Cut it out to use as a pat­tern. Trace the pat­tern onto the cot­ton fab­ric with a marker, trac­ing 26 squares in all. Cut out the squares with fab­ric scis­sors. Lay out the squares in pairs for the front and back of the 13 bean bags. It’s fun to mix col­ors and pat­terns.


Felt pieces – usu­ally 12-inch squares – can be pur­chased at a craft store. Choose a va­ri­ety of col­ors that will look good with the cot­ton squares. Each nu­meral should be no more than 2½ inches high, so use the ruler and marker to draw a 2½-inch grid on the felt pieces. Lightly sketch each nu­meral within a 2½-inch square, mak­ing sure it is no taller than the square. The arith­meti­cal signs can be about half that size. Cut out the numerals and the signs with fab­ric scis­sors.


Pin the numerals and arith­meti­cal signs on the 13 fab­ric squares that will be the front sides of the bean bags. Stitch the numerals in place, us­ing the sewing ma­chine or hand-stitch­ing. (Al­ter­na­tive: Use craft glue to af­fix the felt numerals to the fab­ric squares. Al­low glue to dry for 24 hours be­fore mak­ing up the bean bags.)


Pin the front and back squares to­gether, with the wrong sides fac­ing out­ward. Leav­ing a 1/2-inch-wide seam, stitch along the three sides of the squares. If sewing by hand, be sure the stitches are small to pre­vent beans from es­cap­ing. Snip a small tri­an­gle of fab­ric off each cor­ner to al­low the cor­ner to open up prop­erly. Turn the bean bags right-side out. If nec­es­sary, use a pen­cil or other nar­row ob­ject to push out the cor­ners. At this stage, the bean bags will re­sem­ble lit­tle pil­low cases, ready to be filled with beans.


Fill each bean bag with four or five tea­spoons of small white beans. (Al­ter­na­tive: Use lentils, rice or bar­ley.) Do not over­fill. Pin the open side closed with the raw edges of fab­ric folded in. If us­ing a sewing ma­chine, top stich around all four sides of the bean bag, over-stitch­ing the first side by about a ¾-inch. Tie off and trim the loose threads. If sewing by hand, use a blan­ket stitch or over­cast stitch around the four sides to strengthen the edges.

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