Bean Counter

13 May

A few days ago, somewhere between leaving the public library and reaching the parking lot, my daughter picked up a long stick. Boy did she like that stick. She twirled it, dragged it on the ground, poked the grass, and I was preparing to ask her if we should invite it to lunch when a man walked past and smiled at us. He said, “All the money in the world couldn’t buy a toy that cool.”

Now, older kids and adults might disagree. But toddlers take the most basic of things – a rock, a stick, a patch of dirt – and turn them into entertainment. It’s fascinating really. My daughter has moved the same seven rocks around our yard for months now – they’ve gotten baths, been fed to her baby doll, and gone for stroller rides. And as a budget-conscious mama, anything that entertains my little girl AND IS FREE is awesome in my book.

So I would like to share an easy and FREE project that might keep your toddler entertained for a while.

This is so simple really.

Take an empty, washed container that has a plastic lid – I used a Trader Joe’s coffee tin. Using an Xacto knife (and out of the sight of your child – those kids remember everything!), cut a smallish rectangle in the lid. Yes, mine appears to have more than four sides. No, I did not flunk geometry.

Coffee tin

Fill the container with dried beans. Yes, these could be a choking hazard. This is an in-the-same-room kind of activity.


I don’t know why I feel like I’m looking at a pile of kidneys.

Then pull out some spoons, measuring cups or small Tupperware from your cupboards, and let your kid go wild. My daughter loved dumping out all of the beans and putting them back in the container one at a time. They can listen to the sound the beans make when you shake the tin, and collect beans in a spoon and transfer them to the container. Older toddlers can practice counting the beans. Budding accountants, I tell you!


If you try this out I would love to hear your results. Leave me a comment and let me know!


2 Responses to “Bean Counter”

  1. The Sweetest August 26, 2010 at 2:11 pm #

    Just got referral to your glob from Onesmarmymama! Loved this activity, but then I realized this is the difference between boys and girls. My 2 1/2 yo boy would immediately pull the lid off and dump those beans all over the floors, tossing them into nooks and crannies and under the stove and whatnot. Ha ha!

  2. admin August 26, 2010 at 3:39 pm #

    Funny you should mention that – DD and I had a 20-minute conversation the other morning about the need to pick up ALL the beans before we could start a new activity. Looking forward to checking out your blog!

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