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Bean Bag Exercises for Partners


Partner work builds on the skills developed in the first set of lessons. These exercises continue to work on building capacities for learning through developing new neural pathways. Please see the article: An Introduction to Neuro-Developmental Support  under the Resources menu. Some of the new skills include: aiming, judging how much force is required to reach the target, preparing to catch, all of which require focused attention. More subtly, the student will develop the sense of working with another person and sharing responsibility. For instance, the person who is throwing the bean bag learns to take some responsibility for whether the partner catches it.

Lesson 1 is built on the premise that the student has some facilitation with throwing and catching with either hand. Some students may do Lessons 1 and 2 in one session; for others, Lesson 1 may require more than one session. See the “Modifications” page for suggestions on working with someone with specific challenges.


Review: You will need a bean bag for each person as you do the review, then one bean bag for the initial partner exercises.
– toss up and catch with one hand, then the other hand.
– pass behind the back.
– loop and pass across front, then pass behind the back.
– two bean bags, simultaneously toss up and catch.

1. Partners: Toss with one hand, catch with two:
– Stand facing each other no more than two arm lengths apart to start, i.e. each partner reach out one hand to almost touch fingertips. Using just one bean bag, one partner will toss with one hand to partner, who will catch with two hands. Always throw underhand. The partner will hold her two hands together so the one throwing will have a target to aim at. This is very helpful for individuals who have trouble focusing and aiming. Some children will start off by throwing the bean bag too high or two hard, or off to one side. By focusing on the hands that are prepared to catch, the child is encouraged to aim carefully.

2. Catch with one hand:
– When there is consistency with aiming and catching with two hands, try catching with one hand, starting with the dominant hand. This can be done by tossing from your right hand to partner’s right hand, assuming both partners are right-handed, or by tossing from your right hand straight across to partner’s left hand. Always catch with the palm facing the ceiling. Discourage reaching out and grasping the bean bag overhand.

3. Catch and throw with the non-dominant hand.

4. Partner pass in a rectangle:
– When both partners can comfortably catch with either hand, stand with hands in beginning position as for Pass from hand to hand in previous set of lessons.
– Partner one will begin with the bean bag in her right hand and toss to partner’s left hand. Partner two will slap the bean bag over to her right hand then open the left hand to the beginning position. She will then toss the bean bag from her right hand to partner’s left hand, who will slap it across to her right hand. Begin again. The verse I use for this when I am working with children is “Jack and Jill”. See the video demonstration for the rhythm. When some proficiency has been achieved with this direction (counter clockwise) of the rectangle, reverse the direction to clockwise. Keep your eye on the bean bag. Partner one will start with the bean bag in her left hand, toss to partner’s right hand, etc.

Lesson 2: Pass Behind the back: 

Review the partner pass activity in a rectangle in both directions.

– When the partner receives the bean bag, pass it behind the back, then bring the hand with the bean bag bag back to the starting position. Note that there is always a pause here in the rhythm. Continue to use “Jack and Jill”.
– Practice with the verse several times in one direction as you did with the partner pass in a rectangle, then change directions.
– To make things more interesting, I might change the verse to “Sing a Song of Sixpence” which is on the Verses page.

Lesson 3: Figure 8:


– Facing each other, partners will toss (underhand) back and forth to each other’s right hand, saying the verse through once. Then toss back and forth to each other’s left hand, saying the verse.
– Partner One will start with the bean bag in her right hand, toss it to partner’s right hand who will slap it across to her left hand. Partner Two will then toss it to partner’s left hand, who will slap it across to her right hand, ready to start again.

Lesson 4: Figure 8 behind the back.

– When the partner catches the bean bag, she will pass it behind her back, bringing her hands back to the starting position to begin the toss to the partner.

Lesson 5: Two bean bags in a rectangle.



Note: You could introduce this after Lesson 2 if the partners are comfortable with the exercise thus far. It is a fun challenge. Then go on to the Figure 8 exercises.

– Each partner holds a bean bag in the right hand. At the same time, toss the bean bag straight across to the partner. Each will then pass the bean bag across to her own hand. Begin again, tossing straight across to the partner. This will take some getting used to but once you get the rhythm, it seems quite easy and fun. Requires a lot of concentration. I would go back to using “Jack and Jill” to start this one. Students are usually very proud of themselves when they master this!
– Add passing behind the back.

Bonus! If the child has mastered the “Two Bean Bag Toss and Pass” from the first set of introductory lessons, try the partner exercise with four beanbags, each partner starting with two. As each tosses the bean bag to the partner, he/she will simultaneously slap the 2nd bean bag across to the other hand and prepare to catch the bean bag coming at her.