For this activity I am going to share with you a Mommy MUST HAVE!  Are you ready?  Beans. . . that’s right beans.  You can use pinto, kidney, or chili beans.  Any bean you can find the only requirement is that they are dried.  The best thing about this little container of beans (we used black eyed peas, split peas, and great nothern beans) is that it takes up very little space, cost me less than $10 to put together and will last forever.

What you’ll need: Plastic container ~ measurement tools ~ beans

Fill a plastic container with beans.   Look in the bulk section of your grocery store; you’ll want about 10 lbs.  In the past I’ve used pinto beans, they are the cheapest.  I like the color, shape and size difference of the beans we have now and I still didn’t spend very much.  Consider this your starting point.  Once you have this container ready there are so many ways to change the tools your kids use with it.

For this activity, I set out spoons, measuring cups, and bowls.  I sat next to the beans but didn’t say much at first.  It didn’t take Little M long to come running.

Big M even stopped playing catch long enough for a quick math lesson.

Questions (to ask your little ones): “How do the beans feel in your hands?”  “Can you tell which type of bean you are holding if your eyes are closed?  How?” “Pick a word that describes how the beans feel.”  “Can you think of something other than beans that feel the same?”  “This is a 1/2 cup measuring cup.  This is a 1 cup measuring cup.  How many 1/2 cups will it take to fill the 1 cup?  Let’s try it.”

Tips: 1.Use this activity to explore words like full, empty, more, less, under and above. 2.  Beans are really easy to sweep up, so you don’t need to worry too much if they fall on the floor.  3.  Go out and prep your bean box. . .you won’t regret it!

*** You will need to supervise this activity if there is any chance your little one will put them in their mouth!!!***

This post is a part of Sense of Touch lesson plan.


  1. I have had a bean box since my oldest was 18 months. I smiled when I read your warning about little ones putting beans in their mouths. My youngest (now two) spent the morning in the ER last month after she shoved beans up her nose. After all of that worry she turned around and did it again as soon as we got home from the hospital.

    The beans are boxed up and tucked away. We will try it again next year… Or maybe when she graduates from college!

    Thanks for the inspiration!

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