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With the arrival of Summer (at last) it's time to sort through the outdoor toys and stock up on some simple, yet adaptable pieces. You can't get much simpler than this set of four beanbags from The Early Learning Centre, or much more adaptable as it happens. For a bargain basement price of just £4, you get four beans bags, that at 10cm by 13cm are the perfect size for little hands to hold. Each of the beanbags is made of a hard-wearing, canvas-like material filled with tiny hard beans held in place with extremely secure stitching. Before giving anything like this to my two year old, I always put it through what I call the Freddy-proof test, trying everything I can to destroy it. These beanbags have passed the test with flying colours with the stitching resisting all attempts at pulling it apart, meaning I'm happy to allow my son to play with them without worrying that he will get at the beads. Not that the beads contained within the bags would particularly cause a choking hazard, they really are tiny and are far more likely to cause a mess than any harm. The beanbags are also very light, meaning that they won't do much damage if used indoors, although I wouldn't recommend allowing your child to throw them at ornaments as they might knock them over.
With two of the beanbags being red and two being blue, these are perfect for two player games and in fact with each beanbag in each colour have a different pattern on them, they could even be used for three or four player games, as well as one child playing on their own. And there are a multitude of ways of incorporating these into both indoor and outdoor play. On a very basic level the beanbags can be used to play catch, a game my two year old adores. With the beanbags being a different shape, size and weight to a ball, catching one can be a little trickier and it really helps a child develop their catching skills using different shaped objects. While my little man can catch a football sized ball one or two times out of ten, he's not yet mastered the art of catching one of these, but still loves attempting it. He does find it easy to throw the beanbags though and really does enjoy playing target style games, where we attempt to throw the beanbags onto a target we've drawn on the path with chalk. I won't say he gets anywhere near the target, but it's great fun throwing the beanbags and even better getting claps and cheers when he succeeds.
Older children will be able to find plenty more uses for these beanbags, they are ideal for impromptu games of piggy-in-the-middle, or as the "stone" when playing hopscotch (no arguing over whose stone is whose as all four are different). They're not too bad to use when playing hand rounders either, they certainly don't sting the hand as a tennis ball can, even though they don't travel quite as far. How about learning to juggle with these, they're not the best for it, but do work. Or a competition to see who can walk the furthest/fastest balancing one on their head. I remember being taught to walk correctly by my beloved Nan, starting with balancing beanbags on my head before progressing on to books. What about seeing who can throw them the furthest pretending they are shot-puts, or seeing who can throw the most in a bucket from different distances. Or how about using them to mark out the bases for a game of rounders?
As you can see these beanbags really are versatile toys, where the only real limit is your or your child's imagination. They are incredibly well made and have easily survived a year of play with very little wear or tear. Yes they are a little scuffed from being thrown onto concrete, but there are no rips or tears. They have also got wet on occasion, and while I wouldn't actually recommend putting them through a machine wash, they dry very quickly when pegged on a washing line and so far the colour hasn't run when they've got wet (including a dunk in the paddling pool).
Personally I feel that every toddler deserves a set of these beanbags, whether they are over the recommended age of two or below it. My little man has been playing with these since he was about eighteen months and at two is now quite the professional beanbag thrower. As to an upper age limit, well I confidently state that my older children were playing with beanbags up to the age of seven, eight and above. I really can't recommend these enough, they are great for indoor or outdoor play and small and light enough to fit in a corner of a bag or suitcase for trips to the park, beach or to take on holiday. So I'm giving the ELC My First Beanbags five stars out of five as they are such a well-made, durable, simple yet versatile toy that will never age or go out of fashion.
These bean bags from the ELC were a purchase we made last year in one of their many half price sales for £2. We thought they would be a great addition to our toy box and help our son with his catching skills.
There are 4 bean bags in the set two red and two blue with a printed design on each these are all in bright colours to look appealing. The designs whilst colourful are actually not something that appeals to my son in that he doesn't have a favourite bean bag and has never made any comments on the designs on them at all so they are just an added decoration really. The bean bags are rectangular in shape approximately 10 cm by 12 cm. This I think is a nice size and one that fits nicely into small hands and is easy for them to hold with either one hand or two for throwing. The stitching on the bean bags is very sturdy and none of the bags have split at all during the time we have had them and they still look as good as new.
We have used the bean bags mainly for throwing and catching games and have found them to be really robust for this and easier than a ball for my son to catch. We have used them for throwing games into targets and bowls and buckets to help improve my sons hand eye co-ordination and he has enjoyed all of these types of games. We have also used them to help improve our balancing skills by walking with them on our heads to stand tall or walking backwards or between our shoulders as we walk in a stooped manner. Again all of this has been fun for our son we have done mini obstacle course with them for fun in the garden.
The bean bags are a great addition to any games cupboard and add a new dimension for throwing and catching games and are easier for young children to catch compared to a ball. The bean bags are nice and robust and well-made and are lasting well and I would definitely recommend them.