In this April like no other, many schedules have open spaces that Little League, 5k runs and other outdoor activities once filled. Here are three DIY backyard games to encourage time in the fresh air and sunshine (and maybe get family members more interested in spring cleaning).
No hammer, nails or artificial turf are required for these great backyard games. Just look to your garage, basement or craft drawer for the items you’ll need. Finding the materials to make these games can be half the fun. (Not feeling crafty? You can always check out the Stay-at-Home Shop for ready-made boredom busters, games and garden gear.)
Backyard Mini Golf
ITEMS TO FIND OR MAKE:
- One or more golf, ping pong or other small sport balls
- A putter or toy golf club, croquet mallet or even a plastic bat (such as a whiffle ball bat)
- 9 (fewer is fine) plastic/foam disposable drinking cups (invert and cut semi-circular opening at one side of each rim large enough to welcome your golf ball or substitute) – use permanent marker to number these “holes” 1 through 9
- Course obstacles, such as plastic cones, yard toys, inflatables, even scrap wood (check for nails first)
SET-UP: Begin by choosing a starting point (you can indicate this with any found object, such as a yard flag, old Frisbee or even just a paper plate) and location to place cup “hole” #1. Add challenges by following elements of the landscape (such hilly or rocky areas) or using obstacles you have found, such as cones. Repeat until the holes of your course are complete.
PLAY TIME: You can play for fun – just taking turns completing each hole OR keep score, counting how many putts it takes each player to complete the course – the winner has the lowest number.
THEY PLAY, YOU CHILL – From the comfort of your lawn chair, call out new challenges, such as using only one hand to putt, or doing a cartwheel or ten jumping jacks after each hole.
Recycled Bottle Bowling
ITEMS TO FIND OR MAKE:
- 10 disposable plastic bottles, such as soda and water bottles (rinse, partly fill with sand, gravel or old dried beans to stabilize, and close tightly) – a variety of sizes and/or fewer bottles are fine
- A tennis ball, child-size soccer or other ball with some weight (a whiffle ball won’t work)
SET-UP: Arrange the bottles or “bowling pins” in a triangular formation. Traditional bowling lanes are 60’ long, however your distance should be appropriate to the age and skill of your players. Mark the throwing line using a strip of duct tape, two cones or another indicator.
PLAY TIME: You can play for fun – just taking turns rolling the ball from behind the tape line to knock down as many pins as possible. To keep score, allow each player 2 rolls per turn and record how many pins are knocked down through a chosen number of rounds – the winner has highest number.
THEY PLAY, YOU CHILL – As you watch from the doorway with your cup of tea, add incentives such as first player to reach 100 points gets to pick the next family movie, or challenges such as standing on one foot while rolling or tossing.
Easy Bean Bag Toss
ITEMS TO FIND OR MAKE:
- Bean bags. Make your own by filling fill 4 or more resealable sandwich bags with equal amounts of sand, old dried beans or rice; close and seal well with strong tape, such as duct tape. Then cover by wrapping entire bag with duct tape OR by cutting two felt or fabric squares per bag, each about ½-inch wider on all sides than the filled bags. Us use hot glue to seal the filled bags inside OR, for each bag, put two squares together (print sides out) and sew around three sides using a simple running stitch, insert sealed plastic bag and then sew the fourth side closed
- Tossing targets, such as inverted frisbees, yard art (such as plastic flamingos to hit), a sturdy ladder, plastic or metal mixing bowls
SET-UP: Arrange up your tossing targets. If desired, label the number of points each target is worth, such as 5/10/15/20 or 1-5. If using a ladder, consider assigning the highest point value to getting a beanbag through the highest run. Mark a throwing line using a strip of duct tape, two cones or another indicator.
PLAY TIME: You can play this backyard game classic for fun – just taking turns tossing a set number of bean bags into or at targets. To keep score, add up the point value of the targets each player hits through a chosen number of rounds – the winner has highest added score.
THEY PLAY, YOU CHILL (mostly) – As you do a bit of online browsing, ask each child in your family to choose 1, 2 or 3 sports or outdoor toys; then challenge them to make a backyard obstacle course for adults or older siblings to attempt. Encourage kids to work together to create rules, a score card – and even a trophy or other prize.
Visit our Stay-at-Home Shop for boredom-busters, homeschool tools, wellness essentials and more things you may need. And check out our articles on helping young writers or simple meditation for relaxation.