Easy DIY Lawn Games You Can Build

Lawn games will keep the kids entertained at the next outdoor party. You can make your own too. Digital Vision/Thinkstock

You've invited your friends and neighbors to a lawn party, but just as you fire up the grill and put the refreshments on ice, horror strikes.

All around you stretches a freshly mowed green expanse with nary a diversion in sight. Where, oh where, is the entertainment?

Fret not. With handsaw and level in hand, we've uncovered some of the easiest DIY lawn games around. With a few simple-to-find supplies, straightforward instructions and spare moments, you can transform your backyard into your own personal amusement park -- and turn your lawn party into a gathering for the ages.

Better still, these durable and classic lawn games can be used again and again, ensuring built-in fun every time you entertain a crowd.

Giant Dice Game
A man throws a giant die while taking part in a huge Monopoly game in Berlin in 2005. The aim was set a record for the largest Monopoly game ever. © TOBIAS SCHWARZ/Reuters/Corbis

What better way to get the fun rolling than by a roll of the dice? Especially when the dice are larger than life and perfect for backyard play.

While you could purchase a set of outdoor dice, making your own allows you to customize the set and create an heirloom your family will enjoy for generations.

For a set of six dice, you'll need six 4-by-4-inch (10-by-10-centimeter) cubes of lumber. If you don't have a band saw, you can always have the lumber cut to size at a home improvement store.

Once you have six wooden cubes, use sandpaper to smooth their edges and sides. Then, using a glossy outdoor paint, add vinyl circles to the flat side of each die. One side should have one dot, another side should have two dots, and so on, so that the final side has six dots. Each die should have a total of 21 circles. After the dots dry, spray each die with a clear coat sealant and allow it to dry.

In just a few minutes you'll have a set of six dice that you can use to play classic games, including bunco, a game that is based entirely on luck and not skill [source: Summerville].

Jumbo Block Tower
Troy Benson eases a block out an oversized Jenga game at a bar in Denver. AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images

This giant version of Jenga allows players to stack wooden blocks into a tower and then remove pieces -- block by block -- without disturbing the rest of the tower.

To make your own, cut 2-by-4-inch (5-by-10-centimeter) boards into 10.5-inch (26.6-centimeter) pieces. After you have a total of 72 pieces, sand the edges and sides until smooth. The original Jenga game has 54 pieces, but you'll want this tower to be taller than average.

Apply a thin coat of gloss paint or clear sealant and allow the game pieces to dry. This step makes it easier to slide individual pieces out of the tower during a game.

To play, place three wooden blocks side by side on a flat surface. Top them with three more pieces placed in the opposite direction. Continue alternating layers until all the pieces have been stacked into a tower. Players then take turns removing individual pieces from the tower and placing them on top of the stack. Eventually, the tower will collapse; the last player to successfully remove and replace a block is the winner [source: The Home Depot].

Lucky Duck
Lucky duck is among the many games at the New Jersey State Fair. You can have your own version at home. © Matt Rainey/Star Ledger/Corbis

If you're looking for a game to foster carnival-like conviviality, try playing lucky duck. This game of chance takes only a few minutes to set up in the backyard and offers a bright diversion for all ages.

Fill a plastic wading pool with water, then add the main attractions: 24 to 48 rubber duckies. The only "technical" thing you need to do is to paint the underside of one duck red (or another color) with a waterproof paint to set it apart from the others; this duck will be the "winning" duck. Of course, this paint job will not be visible when the ducks are upright. You could also just use a colored marker.

To play, participants choose a duck at random from all the floating ducks. The player who selects the duck with the painted underside will be the winner of a small prize or bragging rights. If the player don't pick the right duck, he or she puts it back and then another player tries to pick it [source: Freedman, Carnival Savers].

Variations include having players find two painted ducks to win or writing a number under each duck. Different numbers correspond to different prizes.

Ladder Ball
You can buy a ladder ball game (under the trademark Ladder Golf) but you can build your own set as well. Ladder Golf

Ladder ball, a mainstay of summer campers and backyard gamers, requires a few simple supplies to build.

  • You'll need a 3/4-inch (1.9-centimeter) diameter PVC pipe cut in nine 2-foot (61-centimeter) lengths and six 1-foot (30.4-centimeter) lengths. Most home improvement stores will cut the pipe to your specifications.
  • You'll also need to buy six PVC pipe elbows, also called standard joints.
  • Last, don't forget to grab six T-fittings.

For the base, connect six 2-foot lengths of pipe using four elbows and two T-fittings so that they form a rectangle. The T-fittings should be at the center of the longest sides of the rectangle. Using these T-fittings, you will build a "ladder" by placing a 1-foot length of pipe into each T-fitting. Connect these vertical pipes with a horizontal 2-foot length and T-fittings. Repeat twice, creating a three-tier ladder. One the final tier, you'll use elbows instead of T-fittings.

To make the game pieces, drill holes into a pair of tennis balls and connect with nylon rope, 25 inches or 63 centimeters long, leaving one foot of rope between them. Tie off the rope after it passes through each ball. (You may need to attach one end of the rope to a paper clip or crochet needle to get it through the ball.) Repeat until six game pieces have been created [source: Mom Endeavors].

The object is to toss the balls so they wrap around the bars. For each successful toss, a point is scored. The first player to reach 21 points wins. (More game instructions are at How Ladder Ball Works).

Noodle Ball
Noodle ball is played on land with swimming pool noodles cut in half cross-wise. iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Want to use your noodle this summer? We have the game for you. With a few foam swimming noodles, balloons and laundry baskets, you can set up a backyard game in no time.

Start by cutting swimming noodles in half, so that you have two equal sections. You'll want enough noodles to provide each player with a noodle "bat." Then, place laundry baskets at an equal distance from each other. For younger players, you can place the baskets about 6 feet (1.8 meters) apart. Go farther for older players.

Divide players into teams and assign each team a laundry basket as "home plate." Randomly place about 24 blown-up balloons between the baskets and shout, "Play ball!"

Players then try to put as many balloons into their baskets as possible. The trick is that they can only use the pool noodle to move the balloons. They must not touch the balloons with their bodies. After a few minutes, you may want to offer a hint: Working together will offer more success than a solo act [source: Herring].


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Author's Note: Easy DIY Lawn Games You Can Build

In what surely is a case of life imitating art, the quality of backyard entertainment at my house has risen. Thanks to the series of "summer fun" articles I've been researching, we've tried all sorts of interesting endeavors, from water balloon races to noodle ball. Now all I need is a set of jumbo dice and a larger-than-life Jenga game. It's good to have goals.

Related Articles


  • Carnival Savers. "Lucky Duck." (Aug. 10, 2013). http://www.carnivalsavers.com/boothideaseggs.html
  • Freedman, Lisa. "Backyard Ideas: Make Your Own Carnival Games." Grandparents. (Aug. 10, 2013) http://www.grandparents.com/grandkids/activities-games-and-crafts/backyard-ideas-carnival-games
  • Herring, Amy. "Camp Mom! 20 Activities to Make Summer Awesome for Everyone." Parents. (Aug. 10, 2013) http://www.parents.com/fun/games/family/camp-mom-20-activities-to-make-summer-awesome-for-everyone/#page=10
  • The Home Depot. "Building a Giant Jenga Game." April 20, 2012. (Aug. 10, 2013) http://community.homedepot.com/t5/Playtime-Plans/Building-a-Giant-Jenga-Game/td-p/48259
  • Mom Endeavors. "DIY Patriotic Ladder Golf." (Aug. 10, 2013) http://www.momendeavors.com/2012/06/diy-patriotic-ladder-golf.html
  • Summerville, Roeshel. "DIY Outdoor Giant Dice Game (LCR)." DIY Showoff. June 18, 2013. (Aug. 10, 2013) http://diyshowoff.com/2013/06/18/diy-outdoor-giant-dice-game-lcr/