During my recent trip to Seattle, my brother humored me and let me visit my favorite little shop, Booty Land Kids. I love this little store for it's unique, handmade organic and sustainable goods for kids and babies. One thing that particularly caught my eye while I was there were these adorably handmade beanbags made out of recycled (upcycled) wool sweaters. I plopped three of them down on the counter, ready to pay $3 apiece for them, when I looked down and had a brilliant revelation. I could totally make these in about 10 seconds. I have a ton of sweater scraps, I have a sewing machine... I have creative ability and too many beans to know what to do with (thanks, WIC!). Sooo...
Voila! Okay, so they took a little longer than 10 seconds, but I did finish them within a few hours. What took the longest was filling them with beans, since I only have one size funnel and all the beans didn't want to fit through :) I used a variety of beans for different textures- lentils, pinto, and chickpeas. And a few with rice.
Beanbags are great learning toys. They are a great sensory toy, as well as inspire creativity. Don't believe me? Google childrens' beanbag activities. There are hundreds of learning uses and games for these humble little guys. Counting, sorting, tossing back and forth, the list goes on. AND, they can be great little tools when a child is angry (throwing at the wall? Squeezing in your hand?)
I found some tutorials on the internets for different kinds. I'm not going to make my own tutorial, b/c mine are obviously pretty simple. I cut two squares the same size, laid them wrong-side-together and stitched with the overlock function on my machine (a serger would work even better, obviously) leaving a hole for the funnel. I like the look of the serged edge, but you could turn them inside out if you wanted a more polished look.
So anyway, here's some other super-cute bean bags -with tutorial linked- if you're interested!
eta: Derek and I had a conversation last night about whether we felt it was okay to throw things when you are mad. I totally understood where he is coming from, and I thought I might clarify what I think about this in general.
Like most things in life, I can see how this has the potential to be a really, really bad habit, and has the potential to turn into abuse if used incorrectly. However, within a certain perimeter of boundaries, I think it can be a healthy and helpful tool for physically expressing anger. Anger is a really Big Feeling for a kid (for most of us, really) and it is so difficult for children to know what to do with it. Most kids are shut down by "helpful" adult when they try to express any anger, and consequently never learn an appropriate way to let it out. The truth is, angry is just a feeling. It's not better or worse than happy, sad, excited or frustrated. But there's something about our child's anger that stirs up all kinds of emotions in ourselves and takes us to a place we'd rather not deal with.
So these are the boundaries for physically expressing anger in our home: hitting/punching/kicking/stomping - a pillow, a bed or the floor- are all acceptable.
throwing a bean bag, a stuffed animal, a pillow or similar- at the floor or wall- is acceptable.
Other ways- coloring really hard with a crayon- even if the crayon breaks. Blowing and stomping on bubbles. Jumping up and down. Screaming in a room by yourself.
The catch is- no physical expression of anger may be used to hurt or intimidate another person or animal. And nobody can destroy property. Even in our anger we respect others and others' stuff. And we respect each other's need or desire to talk or not talk about it afterwards.
I think it is a worthwhile conversation to have with your spouse and children about acceptable and unacceptable ways to express big feelings. I recently heard a mother tell her young son, "we don't get angry in this house!" and I just thought that was so sad. But I can empathize, because if you don't have a plan in place, it is very difficult to know what to do in the moment of intense feelings. So that's just my two cents, anyway. :)