2020 Children’s Area: Hands-On Activities

Basket Bean Toss


This game of pure chance was played throughout the Southeastern region, though with some variation throughout the different tribes. Beans, seeds, or even grains of corn were darkened on one side and placed in a shallow basket. All of the objects were placed non-marked side up, then given a quick and gentle toss. When all of the objects landed, points were counted based on the number of objects that flipped to their darkened sides. The Cherokee played with beans or fruit seeds. The Creeks and Choctaws played a similar game with grains of corn.

Materials Needed:

  • Woven fiber paper plate holders
  • 10 dry large lima beans
  • Extra fine point permanent markers

Children will draw the shapes listed below. The beans will be theirs to keep. Many households already have the basket-like paper plate holders for kids to play the game at home. If you do not have one, a large paper plate or flat basket will work.

You will need:


Place all of your beans into the basket and turn them over to the blank side. Gently toss beans in the air. Count up your score. Highest score wins!

Shell Necklaces:

Shell necklaces could be made by using the shells of local species of mussels or snails. They could also be made of shells that were traded for from the coast. They were often strung on sinew and could also be decorated with beads.

Turtle Rattles:

One of the many musical instruments used by the Southeastern Native Americans was the rattle. These were commonly made of dried gourds filled with a few beans, grains of corn, or pebbles. The gourds would have been affixed with wooden handles and were sometimes made in different sizes to change their sound. Sometimes rattles would be made of terrapin shells, filled with pebbles, and attached to leather straps. Women would wear these attached to their lower legs for some ceremonies. Other rattles worn by women could be made out of large numbers of deer toes that would be attached to “stockings” and worn on the legs.