Bean bag toss games are a popular pastime for any age. Many people who choose to make their own bean bags fill them with feed corn. This corn filler is popular because it is small enough for the bags to be malleable, but hard enough for them to be sturdy (yet not dangerously so). However, over time, corn begins to break down, making the bags unusable. Corn-filled bags also release dust that some people dislike. Luckily, if you don't have access to corn filler, or simply don't want to use it, you have plenty of other options.
Most of the bags found at stores are filled with specially-made plastic pellets. These white or clear round pellets come in various sizes; the most common size is slightly smaller than a kernel of corn. Plastic pellets work well because they are about the same texture as corn, but will not wear down over time. Buy them by the ounce at a local craft store.
Small dried beans, no matter what the variety, are a good, inexpensive bean bag filler. Most beans are slightly larger than corn kernels, but you can find beans that are very close to the same size as a kernel of corn, and the texture is the same. Because they are slightly larger, they may not be ideal for everyone, but those who do not regularly play with corn-filled bags will not notice a difference. Look for beans that are no larger than a dime. Beans, like corn, can also wear down over time, but unlike corn-filled bags, bags filled with dried beans will not produce dust. buy dried beans at the grocery store or simply use leftover dried beans from home. Small dried beans, like pinto beans, baby Lima beans and split peas, are just a few examples.
Dry, uncooked rice, just like dried beans, are inexpensive and easy to find at the grocery store. Rice is not quite as hard as corn, but it is smaller. Rice-filled bags are more malleable than corn-filled bags and only slightly lacking in hardness, which will not alter the game. Rice is also lighter than corn, so it is the ideal filler if you're playing with small children. Since any dry rice will work, you have plenty of options. Simply choose the least expensive rice to fill your bean bags with, and you can create an entertaining family game without spending much money.
Small craft beads are another simple, safe option for filling your homemade bean bags. This choice is especially convenient for people who use craft beads at home. Beads come in a wide variety of sizes, so look for some that are about the same size as a kernel of corn. The beads should be no smaller than a grain of rice and no larger than a dime. If your beads are too big, the bags will be lumpy, but if your beads are too small, they may spill out of the seams.
A safety note: Use plastic beads. Wooden beads, when wet, break down, and metal beads can be sharp. As long as they are plastic and around the same size, you can use any assortment of beads. If you choose this option, you can fill your homemade bean bags while recycling mismatched beads.
Liz Powell has been writing professionally since 2007. She has written for "The Murray State News," edited for "Murray Life Magazine" and has been published in the Murray State undergraduate journal, "Notations." She is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English literature and Spanish from Murray State University.