I’m really envious of those parents that have kids that seem to be able to entertain themselves away from their home at parties and family gatherings. My kids seem to have this special knack for begging my smartphone away from me to listen to music or play a game, sort of defeating the purpose of getting together as a family. So rather than get mad or be that person that says,” back in the good old days when I was a kid…,” I’ve decided to be pro-active and organize some activities for the 4th of July that the whole family can enjoy. So I’ve gathered my favorite yard games here, and hopefully these will inspire your own families to make some great summer memories together.
Bean Bag Toss
Bean Bag Toss, a.k.a Cornhole has been around in some form for hundreds of years, and basically involves tossing a small bag into a hole in a board. You can check out the official rules for Cornhole from the American Cornhole Association (yes, there is an official Cornhole organization), or make up your own family rules. To keep it interesting and fair, I like playing the game in teams by pairing younger players and older players.
There are many DIY versions of Cornhole/Bean Bag Toss, but Gronomics make a really nice quality Bean Bag Toss set made of western cedar. The set makes a great house-warming gift that will create summer memories for years.
I can finally use up that left-over wood from all my home renovation projects and build this DIY Giant Jenga game! A spin on the classic puzzle/board game, Giant Jenga (also called Tumble Tower) is a great activity that’s a little easier for the less athletically gifted.
To take the game up a notch, you can make a Giant Jenga Conversation Starter game, where you write conversation starters on each piece (What’s your favorite song? What’s your favorite meal?). It’s a great way to break the ice and get the conversation flowing.
Water Balloon Catch
If you feel like getting a little wet, and providing entertainment for kids, adults, and bystanders, you’ve got to check-out DIY Water Balloon Catch, a variation on the classic Water Balloon Toss game that has been making the rounds in summer camps and backyard picnics for the past few years.
Players take plastic milk jugs and try to catch grapefruit-sized water balloons. If they make a bad play, the catcher and anyone nearby, gets soaked–perfect for a hot July 4th part! Plus, players can decorate their own milk bottles as a pre-game activity. On a hot summer afternoon, I can think of very few things that are more fun than watching my kids get dunked with water balloons.
Trash Can Frisbee
Trash Can Frisbee or “KanJam” has been growing in popularity as a backyard or tail-gaiting version of Ultimate Frisbee or Disc Golf. In the rules of KanJam, players try to land a frisbee into a “can” (a small trash can or small landscaper barrel will work too). Opposing players can earn points by knocking (“jamming”) the flying frisbee into the can from above.
Bean Bag Toss, Giant Jenga, Water Balloon Catch, and Trash Can Frisbee are just my top picks for family-friendly outdoor activities to keep the kids off the electronics and make lasting summer memories, but there are many, many, more yard games out there for a variety of skill levels, ages, and interests. If you have your own favorite summer yard game or an interesting variation on a classic, let us know in the comments.