Games to Get Kids Outside

Summer means kids are home from school, likely telling you they’re boooored for the umpteenth time that day.  Of course the old stand bys work, and usually my kids are willing to shoot each other with water for hours.  Still, I wanted to switch things up by building a new game, corn hole.  Basically, it’s a much safer version of horseshoes, but with moveable boards.  A few friends came over and we built four sets in a few hours.  To make your own boards, you’ll need:

Three eight foot long 2 by 4 boards, cut four lengths each at 48, 21, and 11 inches long

Two sheets of 1/2 inch plywood cut to 24 by 48 inches

Four 1/2 inch diameter, 4 inch long bolts with washers and nuts

A drill with 3 1/2 inch long screws, as well as a 5/8 inch paddle bit

A jigsaw or 6 inch diameter hole saw

Outdoor fabric, a sewing machine, and dry corn or beans

Create the frame by laying the 48 and 21 inch boards in a rectangle, with the 21 inch sections between the long boards.  Drive two screws through the end of the long board, into the short section to attach together.


Lay the plywood on top, lining it up with the edges, and secure either with screws or a pneumatic nailer.


Mark 9 inches from the top and centered on the width to cut the hole.  If you happen to have a 6 inch diameter hole saw, line the center up with that mark and drill through.  Since we didn’t have a hole saw, I found a coffee can lid, poked a screw through the center, and drilled that slightly in at my center mark.  Then I traced around the lid, removed it, and drilled a hole near the edge to get the jigsaw in.  Ben has a steadier hand with the jigsaw, so he cut the holes out.

Next, it’s time to make the folding legs.  On each side, at the top of the board, measure 3 1/4 inches down from the frame top and centered on the 2 by 4 frame.  Do not include the 1/2 inch of plywood in your measurement.  Use the 5/8 inch paddle bit to punch a hole through the frame.  At the top of the 11 inch pieces, mark 1 3/4 inches down and centered on the width and drill through tat as well.


To allow the leg to turn, you’ll have to cut the corners off, leaving about a half-inch to 3/4 of flat at the top.  Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to look pretty, just allow the leg to easily fold in and out of the frame.  Once you’re happy with the movement, slide your washer on and tighten the nut.  For smoothness and longevity, we applied two coats of water based polyurethane to the top and sides.

The last step is creating eight tossing bags.  Use two different colors or fabrics, creating four of each kind.  If you want to sew with a half-inch margin, cut 7 1/2 inch squares, lay right sides together, and sew along three sides.  Fill each bag with just about 2 cups of corn (somewhere between 14 and 16 ounces is ideal) then sew the tops together.


Lay the boards out on a flat(ish) surface 27 feet apart, from front edges.  I scoot the boards closer when kids play, so that’s dependant on their throwing distance.



The legs allow easy removal of bags, but also allow the boards to store flat.


It’s been a big hit with the boys and their friends.  Set up and take down is quick, so it can be pulled out whenever they want to play, but provides hours of competitive fun.  Which gives me plenty of time to vacuum and clean the house in peace and quiet.

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