bean bag game

The object of cornhole is to get the beanbag into the hole. ATTRIBUTION: Gfuerer (Wikimedia Commons)

I enjoy playing outdoor games with family and friends when the weather warms up. Unfortunately, buying new games each summer can really add up. Now, instead of running to the store, I try to make my own games using materials around the house. Try out these DIY backyard games that the whole family can enjoy.


Cornhole is a popular backyard beanbag toss game that’s easy to make and encourages friendly competition. To make your bean bags, sew fabric into square pouches and fill them with dry rice or pinto beans. To create the cornhole board, build a rectangular frame and cover it with a piece of plywood. Cut a hole for the target using a jigsaw, and smooth the edges with sandpaper. Attach legs at one end of the game so that the board sits at an incline. Give your game a finishing touch with a coat of paint.

Three-Hole Washer Toss

Similar to cornhole, the three-hole washer toss game involves throwing 2½-inch washers into holes placed in two boards. To create each board, build a frame and cover it with a piece of plywood. Next, measure and drill three 4-inch holes into the plywood down the center of the board. Glue a piece of outdoor carpet onto the plywood top and cut away the carpet covering the holes.

Giant Jenga

Most of us have played the classic tabletop version of Jenga that consists of players taking turns removing one block at a time from a tower of blocks. You can create a giant Jenga set using just 2-by-4s. Cut six 8-foot-long 2-by-4s into 10½-inch sections to create 54 “blocks”. Smooth each side of the blocks with sandpaper to prevent splinters. To play, just stack the blocks in the same manner you would with classic-size Jenga.

Lawn Twister

With a few cans of spray paint, you can create a game of Twister right on your lawn. Start by creating a circle template by tracing a round object, such as a plate, onto a piece of posterboard. Cut out the circle and lay the template on the grass where you want your first circle to go. Use spray paint to create a circle on the grass with the template. Just like the classic Twister game, you will need six red, six blue, six yellow, and six green circles. Instead of making a spinner, draw pictures of hands or feet on free paint sample cards found at your local home improvement store. Put the cards into a container and have each player pick a card during their turn.

Giant Kerplunk

Fun for both kids and adults, Kerplunk is a challenging game that requires a little bit of skill and a whole lot of luck. You can create a giant outdoor version with a few common materials. Start by creating a frame using four 16-inch 2-by-4s. Attach a 10-inch 4-by-4 board to each of the four corners to create legs. Next, make a tube using wire netting and place it on top of the wooden platform. Secure the tube to the platform with staples. Slide wooden dowels through the openings in the wire tube in various directions to create a barrier to hold the balls. Finally, fill the top of the tube with plastic ball pit balls.