From scavenger hunts to backyard bowling, these activities will keep you and your loved ones entertained all summer long.

By Caroline Biggs
July 08, 2020
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Summer is here—known as the season for spending time outdoors—and few pastimes are more fun than a backyard game the whole family can play. "Playing backyard games together as a family takes us back to simpler times before technology became our go-to source of entertainment," explains crafter Jackie Currie of Happy Hooligans. "Being outdoors with the family, laughing, collaborating, communicating, and cheering each other on strengthens family bonds and helps to create standout memories that everyone will treasure years from now."

Of course, the only thing better than a rousing game is one that you can make yourself. "Making your own games is a wonderful idea because you can truly tailor them to your liking while adding elements of your personal style, too," says Andrea Cammarata of The Cottage Market. "And in most cases, DIY-ing an outdoor family game is also very budget friendly."

Curious about what kinds of family-friendly outdoor games you can assemble at home this summer? We asked a few crafty parents to share their ideas and here's what they had to say.

Bean Bag Toss

If you've got a couple of cornhole bags ($18 for 12, bedbathandbeyond.com) or even some dried beans, Kate Dillon of La Jolla Mom says you're already sitting on an awesome outdoor family game. "Bean Bag toss games are very easy to DIY," she says. "You can place dried beans in a Ziploc bag and toss them into bowls labeled with points or even ladder rungs, if you have an available ladder."

Scavenger Hunt

Looking for an engaging outdoor game that you can pull together in a pinch? Curries says to consider a scavenger hunt. "Scavenger hunts can be enjoyed by all ages and don't require any equipment," she says. "Even your youngest family members can participate if you give them a list of picture clues, rather than hand-written ones."

Tic Tac Toe

If you have a tree stump in your backyard, or just a large slice of wood cut from a tree or stump, Cammarata says you can turn it into a bonafide tic-tac-toe board in no time. "Draw the grid with a large marker and make your own playing chips from rocks," she says. "You can paint the board, or even the rocks, however you wish to give your game a custom finish." For a family-friendly paint, try Martha Stewart's Family Friendly Multi-Surface Satin Acrylic Craft Paint ($2.49 each, michaels.com).

Tin Can Bowling

Before you throw your used soup cans in the recycling bin, Cammarata suggests repurposing them into DIY-style pins for a backyard bowling game. "Save your tins cans and make yourself a tin can bowling set," she says. "You can paint or decorate them to liven things up, add a ball and voila!" Throw around a ball from Kids Concept Boccia ($25, scandiborn.com).

Pop-the-Balloon

If you don't already own a pegboard or a set of darts ($30, dickssportinggoods.com), Cammarata says to get your hands on both so you can build a carnival-inspired pop-the-balloon game in your backyard. "Blow up a slew of balloons and attach them to a pegboard by pulling them through the hole and giving them an additional knot," she says. "Use a set of darts and have at it! Just remember to clean up the broken balloons at the end of the game so animals can't choke on them."

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