Bean Bag Games for Grades 1-3
by Barbara Benson
Many years ago, I attended a Waldorf conference for homeschoolers hosted by Rahima Baldwin. One of the presenters was discussing circle time games for early elementary grades. The games that really resonated with me were the bean bag games which I subsequently used with all of my children at home. I believe that the original impetus for these games was a Waldorf book called Take Time by Mary Nash-Wortham and Jean Hunt. The book contained movement exercises for children with difficulties in speaking, reading, writing and spelling. The bean bag exercises were to encourage spatial awareness and orientation. It was suggested that the exercises were best done with rhymes but only one rhyme in the book was illustrated. At the conference, however, the Waldorf presenter had us all standing up and working through the games with the rhymes given below. It was a lot of fun for everyone and I hope some of you may try and enjoy these bean bag games together as a family. I recommend that you as a parent participate right along with your child.
A fun thing to do together is to make your own simple bean bags in first grade that can rest comfortably on a shoulder. Once they are made, begin the sequence of the games but take your time with each one until they are really mastered. Make sure each rhyme is memorized so the focus can be on the movement. The rhyme is recited out loud as you move. Each game gets progressively more difficult. When you add a new one, still repeat the earlier one.
Begin the games by putting the bag on your shoulder and then walking for the Opening Verse ( two different openings are given). Walk and then race to sit down in a chair. Next, stand up again for the actual game exercise. We enjoyed these from first through third grade as part of our warm up or circle time.
Bean Bags: (practice each one for at least a couple of weeks after Opening)
First Opening ( Walking with bag on shoulder and then sit down): “See me walk so straight and tall, I won’t let my beanbag fall.” Straight ahead, don’t look down, keep that bean bag off the ground! SIT DOWN
Second Opening: “Brave and true I will be. Each kind word will set me free. Each good deed will make me strong. I will fight for the right and conquer the wrong”. SIT DOWN
Game sequence (done standing)
#1 (Hands in front—sideways 8– bag is going from hand to hand)
Two birds did play a game one day
One flew up high, the other low
The high one dropped a seed below
The low one caught the seed and flew
The other caught it underneath
And sang because he was so pleased
The other sang, Let’s play again
And so they played until the end
#2 (Hands going round the body at waist level—increase speed. Do this one or do Round and Round The Cobbler’s Bench and then toss to the partner)
Two squirrels did run around a tree
They chased their tail most merrily
Round and round the trees they ran
The squirrels scurried swift and then
They chased until they were a blur
Whose tail was whose, they were not sure!
#3 (arching over head, back and forth between hands)
The butterfly flew on the rainbow after the weather cleared
But he could not decipher which color he preferred
Should he race along the red Or drift along the blue
Should he charge along the orange Or walk the purple hue
Should he dance the yellow sheen Or drift within the pleasant green
No, he said, I love them all
I’ll arch each one till darkness falls.
#4 (bag dropped down from behind neck to the other hand at lower part of back)
Down the waterfall
Down from the farthest heights
Down o’er slippery stone
Down with watery might
Dash on down the stone
Splash the waters foam
Crash the waters home
Flash the waters gone.
#5 (figure 8 tossed under and over each leg from hand to hand)
Proud prancing ponies
Parading in line
Not hurried, not worried
Each stepping in time
Their heads they hold proudly
Their backs straight and strong
Each stepping so lively
As they march along.