6 Super-Simple DIY Backyard Game Ideas for Kids

These fun outdoor games for kids can be made with things you probably already have around the house!

Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.

Stuck at home with the kids? Turn off the screens and go outside for some friendly competition! With just a few supplies from around the house, you can DIY one of these outdoor games for kids. Add to the fun with some peppy tunes and refreshing snacks and drinks. And why should the kids be the only ones having fun? You might as well get in on the action as well!

Tin Can Bowling

This creative bowling game is quick to set up and sure to be a hit. Kids love the satisfying crash of the cans tumbling down.

To make:

  • Wash and dry six empty food cans of the same size. Paint each a different color.
  • Stack the empty cans into a pyramid with three on the bottom, two in the middle, and one on top.
  • Mark the distance where each player must stand to roll the ball.
    • A tennis ball works great, but any kind of small to medium-sized ball will work.

To play: 

  • Now bowl! The scoring is up to you. Maybe each player gets three attempts to knock all the cans down, or each fallen can counts as one point. Use whatever rules are best for the age group playing the game.

Water Cup Races

You might set up this water fun game for the kids, but we guarantee you’ll want to play too! Here’s what you need: tape, string, two plastic cups and two squirt guns.

To make: 

  • Cut a hole in the bottom of the two cups, and string the cups onto two strings of the same length.
  • Hang the two strings outside, about chest-high for your kids. You can hang them across the patio, from the house to a backyard fence post, or wherever works in your yard. Just keep in mind the strings will be the “race tracks,” and the distance is up to you.

To play: 

  • Place the cups at one end of the string, and then two players shoot their squirt guns at the cups to move them down the string. First cup to the other end wins!

Giant Matching Game

Most young kids love matching card games, so take it up a notch with this giant outdoor version. You’ll need 12 to 16 big blank squares to create the “cards.” You can use cardboard, poster board or even big paper plates.

To make: 

  • Divide the cards into pairs and draw or paint different designs on each pairing.
    • Use easy designs like simple shapes, flowers, hand prints and smiley faces.
  • Mix up the cards and lay them face down, outside.

To play:

  • Each player picks two cards. If they match, the player keeps the pair and gets one point. If they don’t match, the cards are flipped over and stay where they were. The player with the most matches wins!

Backyard Obstacle Course

Here’s one to get the wiggles out: Gather up items from your house and garage to create a giant outdoor obstacle course.

To make: 

  • Use a wooden board as a balance beam to run across;
  • Create a tunnel of pool noodle arches players must crawl under;
  • Lay a ladder on the grass, and players can hop between each rung;
  • Set out a pattern of boxes or toys that players must zigzag between.
    • Get creative, making it as easy or as difficult as you want!

To play: 

  • Each player runs through the course as quickly as they can, maneuvering around each obstacles. The fastest time wins!

Pool Noodle Ring Toss

Making a ring toss game using pool noodles not only increases the size of the game (and the fun), but the noodles are lightweight so even young kids can play.

To make:

  • Curl three pool noodles into circles and secure with duct tape to create the rings.

To play: 

  • Choose the distance for the two goals.
  • Insert a ground stake at each location, leaving about six inches of the stake exposed.
  • Attach a noodle to each ground stake by sliding the inside of the noodle over the stake. Let the ring tossing begin!

Painted Rock Tic-Tac-Toe

This painted rock tic-tac-toe board is a craft and game in one.

To make: 

  • Have your kids help you gather up six flat rocks for the game pieces;
  • Paint each set of three in different designs.
    • You can paint simple Xs and Os, different animals or different colors; let your kids decide.

To play: 

  • Paint a hashtag sign on a flat piece of wood to create the game board. The rocks and wood materials make this game durable enough to play and store outside.

Erica Young
Erica Young is a freelance writer and content creator, specializing in home and lifestyle pieces. She loves writing about home decor, organization, relationships, and pop culture. She holds a bachelor's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Arizona State University, the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.