What’s the Idea?
It’s actually pretty easy to make giant outdoor games for kids like Jenga, chess, Ten Pin Bowling and Twister. You just need some paint, a piece of wood or paver block, some time and loads of creativity.
What’s the story
For many parents, it’s a struggle to keep the kids away from screens and get them to spend more time outdoors. This has been especially true due to the past few months’ lockdown measures.
Living next door to four kids aged 4 to 10, I’ve seen their mom scrambling to find ways to keep them entertained.
I’ve loved board games since I was a child and came across some awesome family and board games that you can recreate in your garden, which I’m sure will keep the kids busy for hours.
So I decided to share my favourite ones, which also happen to be easy to make!
People should do this because…?
Board games are a great way to keep children’s brains healthy and active and allow for some healthy family bonding time.
And it’s even better when you can play outside! These games will be a hit for a long time and are quite easy and cost-effective to make.
How do you do it?
Chess and Checkers/Draughts
This is a classic game that develops children’s problem-solving skills and is a healthy way to channel sibling rivalry. You can choose to do either of the games or both.
What you need:
• a concrete paver block, piece of wood or an available square of concrete
outdoor (weatherproof) paint – black or white (or both)
• large pebbles, round wooden tokens, store-bought chess or checkers pieces or home-made ones (you can make them as a paper maché project or use plastic bottles)
• permanent marker
How to make it:
- Paint your chessboard onto your chosen surface. Remember that there are 8 x 8 blocks for 64 total, alternating black and white.
- Create your chess pieces. If you choose to make your own, you can draw symbols for the 16 game pieces onto your pebbles or wooden tokens using a permanent marker or a thin paintbrush. You’ll need two sets of a king, a queen, two bishops, two knights, two castles and eight pawns.
- If you’d like to make a checkers or draughts board, paint the other side of twelve of your chess pieces (of both sets) either black or white. When using traditional chess pieces, you can just get or make two sets of twelve round draughts/checkers pieces to use for the alternative game.
- Here’s how to play chess and checkers/drafts.
Tic-Tac-Toe/Naughts and Crosses
This game is fun to play and is suitable for a wide age range and is among the easiest outdoor games for kids to make.
• A surface of your choice — wood, a paver block or an open piece of concrete
• ten squares of wood, large pebbles or sidewalk chalk
- Paint your playing board by using four intersecting parallel lines to create nine squares.
- Create your tokens by painting half of the tokens with circles and the others with x’s. For a fun twist, you can create two sets of different animals like dogs and cats or two sets of different coloured ladybugs.
This 3D tower puzzle game is a hit with kids and adults but will require a bit of work and some skill with a saw to create.
You’ll need to get:
• Enough planks to make 54 Jenga pieces (6 average size planks should work, but you can decide how big you’d like your pieces to be)
• sanding paper
• a saw
• Optional: Paint or permanent markers to decorate.
Creating your blocks:
- Saw your Jenga pieces into equal-sized rectangles.
- Sand them down until smooth.
- Decorate them by painting the pieces different colors, drawing on them or writing jokes, messages or fun “dares” on them for an added dimension to the game.
- Stack and enjoy it! Here are the rules for Jenga.
Ten Pin Bowling
This group activity is sure to keep everyone occupied for hours and helps to improve hand-eye coordination.
You will need:
• ten plastic bottles
• a tennis ball
- Paint the plastic bottles to look like bowling pins or decorate them any way you like.
- Fill the bottles about a quarter of the way with sand. They need to be sturdy enough to stand, but not heavy enough that the kids struggle to bowl them over.
- Make sure to keep a whiteboard or small blackboard handy to keep score.
Another one of those outdoor games for kids that always results in a lot of laughs and is surprisingly easy to recreate.
• Spray paint in red, blue, yellow and green
• a Twister board spinner or cardboard and colouring pens to create your own.
• Optional: rope to create a straight line and something round to use as a guide for painting the circles.
- Decide on how big you want the field to be and mark where you’ll be painting the circles. The average size is six circles in four rows. Ensure that the circles are about as big as an adult’s palm and spaced equally.
- Paint the red row, followed by blue, yellow and green.
- If you don’t have one, you can create your own Twister board spinner. Divide cardboard into four. Starting at the top left, draw a foot (label it “left”), a hand (“right”), a foot (“right”) and a hand (“left”). In the middle of the paper, draw four circles in each block to form a large sixteen-circle circle and colour them in the various colours of your Twister board.
- Use a pencil or pen and spin it in the middle of the page to decide on the directions of the players.