Get Crafty With Dried Beans

Use for playing pieces We know you had your heart set on being the racing car in the next game

Use for playing pieces
We know you had your heart set on being the racing car in the next game of Monopoly, but if the car has taken a trip to parts unknown, would you settle for a bean? Beans work fine as replacement pieces for everything from checkers to Chutes and Ladders to bingo.

Treat sore muscles
Is your bad back or tennis elbow acting up again? A hot beanbag may be just the cure you need. Place a couple of handfuls of dried beans in a cloth shoe bag, an old sock, or a folded towel (tie the ends tightly) and microwave it on High for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Let it cool for a minute or two, then apply it to your aching muscles.

Make a beanbag
Pour 3/4 to 1 1/2 cups dried beans in an old sock, shaking them down to the toe section. Tie a loose knot and tighten it up as you work it down against the beans. Then cut off the remaining material about 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) above the knot. You now have a beanbag for tossing around or juggling. Or use it as a squeeze bag for exercising your hand muscles.

Practice your percussion
Make a homemade percussion shaker or maraca for yourself or your youngster. Add 1/2 cup dried beans to a small plastic jar, or a soda or juice can — even an empty coconut shell. Cover any openings with adhesive or duct tape. You can use this noisemaker at sporting events or as a dog-training tool (give it a couple of shakes when the pooch misbehaves).

Decorate a jack-o’-lantern
Embellish the fright potential of your Halloween jack-o’-lantern by gluing on various dried beans for the eyes and teeth.

Recycle a stuffed animal
Make your own beanie creation by removing the stuffing from one of your child’s old, unused stuffed animals. Replace the fluff with dried beans, and sew it closed. It’s bound to rekindle your youngster’s interest.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest