I was looking for a game to make for a recent backyard party.
What I wanted to make was skee ball, but after coming up with a couple of sketches, it seemed like it would be too much sawing for my skill level.
I searched online and found that ThisOldHouse.com had many tutorials for DIY yard games that looked fun but not quite easy enough for me. I was able to adapt one idea to put in the preferred amount of work (not much).
The game I made is a larger version of Kerplunk, in which you have a tube skewered with sticks, and marbles are dropped in on top. You try to remove the sticks without causing any balls to fall.
My iteration is a cylinder of chicken wire attached to wooden stakes with bamboo garden stakes holding up a variety of balls I bought at thrift stores and Target. If you have kids who already have balls of all kinds, use those. You won’t hurt them, and they don’t have to be solely appropriated for this game.
Other than the balls, you can get everything at a hardware store. I had chicken wire left over in my shed from last year’s garden.
As with any game, you need rules, so here were mine: Each person takes out one garden stake at a time. Because we used different sized balls, we gave them point values of 1 for small balls, 3 for medium-sized and 5 for the two volleyballs, which were the largest. You get points for each ball that drops on your turn, and you want the least points, as in golf. If you prefer to use all same-sized balls, go for it.
- chicken wire
- about 75 bamboo garden stakes
- wire cutters
- work gloves
- needlenose pliers (optional)
- 3 wooden stakes
- staple gun and staples
- assorted balls (I used about 30)
- Decide how big to make the wire cylinder. You want the diameter of the cylinder to be a few inches less than the length of the garden stakes so the stakes stick out on each side. I used 24-inch garden stakes and made the cylinder about 16 inches diameter. Wearing thick gloves, cut the chicken wire with wire cutters.
- Bend the chicken wire into a cylinder and close it by meshing the ends of the wire around each other, using pliers if necessary. Try to keep any sharp points from sticking out.
- Once you have the cylinder, add the wooden stakes to hold it up. My chicken wire was 2 feet high, and the wooden stakes 3 feet. Lay the first stake on the ground and put the cylinder on top, aligning the tops. Staple from the inside of the cylinder to attach the chicken wire to the stake. Repeat for the other two stakes, spacing them evenly.
- Set up the cage by sticking the stakes into the ground, but not all the way — give the balls room to roll out at the bottom. Starting about halfway up, put the garden stakes through the cylinder at different angles to create a mesh for the balls to sit on. Add the balls on top, and you’re ready to play!