Lawn Games Re-imagined

Every season here at Smith Mountain Lake has its own brand of beauty, but the prospects that warmer weather brings are full of fun. While sunshine and water views are reason enough to head to the shore of the lake, family and friends are the difference between a fun day and a lasting memory. Whether you are age 2 or 92, at the lake or just in your back yard, this lineup of distinctive games will inspire you to get out and enjoy time with loved ones of all ages.

Keep It Simple

While staple games like corn hole, Bocce ball and ladder ball are always great options, there is much to be said for finding new uses for household items. A little creativity goes a long way with these games, so make them your own!

Sponge Water Bombs

LawnGames2There is nothing quite like a water balloon fight, especially on a sweltering day, but the time spent firing these weapons is far less than the time spent building the arsenal. Instead of spending an eternity filling up water balloons, use sponges to create reloadable, reusable artillery for your next water battle.

To create your stronghold, cut a sponge into one-inch strips then use sturdy string to tie the strips together—nine strips per water bomb. As you tighten the string, the strips will start to form a pom-pom reminiscent of childhood art class. When the string is secure, fluff the strips into a ball, then soak in water, aim, fire, repeat! 

Music Board

Any Southerner knows that spoons, washboards and milk jugs have a second life as musical instruments. Continue the tradition by creating your own backyard, family-style rock band. Wander through your house and snag items—except maybe the family heirlooms—that make unique sounds. Secure the items in a random array strung from a fence, or arrange on a table, then let the little ones—and the adults—create their own tunes. For an added element of fun, designate judges and make it a competition.

LawnGames4Corn Shucking

A summer buffet isn’t complete without corn-on-the-cob, but shucking it is no picnic. To turn this tedious task into the ultimate game, all you need is a bushel of corn, a table and a group of competitors. Split the players into teams of two—one shucker and one holder—and place the ears of corn in the center of the table. When the appointed judge starts the game, the designated shucker shucks corn as fast as possible while the holder piles up the finished ears. The team who shucks the most corn wins!

Make It Jumbo

Perspective is everything, so freshen up a traditionally indoor game by scaling it for the outdoors.


LawnGames5Circa 1967, this children’s game combines a clear, hole-punched tube, plastic straws placed in a lattice pattern and a pile of marbles in a war of engineering strategy and luck. Players remove straws until one fateful shift causes the pile of marbles to fall to the bottom of the tube. Adapting this game for the outdoors is fairly simple and requires little construction. Here’s how:

1. Find a flat area.

2. Secure chicken wire into a tube shape.

3. Pass 30-40 garden stakes—dowel rods or any sturdy stake-sized item would also work—through the holes in the wire to create a lattice pattern in the middle.

4. Pile lightweight, plastic balls—or small water balloons for extra fun—on top of the lattice.

5. Let the strategizing begin!


This game of mental prowess forces players to form words using a random assortment of letters. Each word builds off the previous, creating a domino-like playing board. In the giant version, your backyard becomes the board for this battle of the brains.

1. Find a large area for the player board. The space can be on a hill, but a steep slope isn’t recommended—you don’t want your letters sliding out of place!

2. Gather, or cut, 100 identical squares in a size of your choice of a sturdy, but inexpensive, material like foam board or poster board.

3. Use colorful markers or paint to decorate each tile with the corresponding letter and point value. Letter allocations and values can be found online.

4. Grab the dictionary and start spelling!


Requiring a steady hand and calm nerves, this gem is not for the faint of heart! Wood blocks, stacked in alternating orientations, are removed by players and placed on top of the tower as they attempt to keep the structure from toppling. The first person to destroy the tower loses. To create the lawn-size version of this game, follow these steps:

1. Find a flat area.

2. Gather or cut identical, rectangular blocks of wood, or any material you’d like to use. (The recommended block size follows a 1:3 ratio.)

3. Stack pieces in rows of three—rotate each new row 90 degrees—to form a tower. If you’re playing with smaller children, beware of the tower’s height—no one wants a little one to get squished when the tower falls!

4. Let the destruction commence!

Focus on the Fun

Sunshine and laughter are good for the soul, so enjoy these suggestions for ways to get your fill of both. Inspiration is everywhere, so gather your family and friends and let the creativity flow. And, remember, whether you’re building a supersize block tower or crafting a reloadable water bomb, the most important step is to have fun!