DIY projects can turn your garden into a unique play space

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HANCOCK COUNTY – As the old song says, it’s summer, and life is easy.

In the long few weeks of summer before school resumes, some backyard craft games might just be the prescription to liven up the rest of the break. Here are some ideas that are new take on old favorites that can turn any backyard into a fun play space.

BACK YARD TWISTER

Take a few cans of spray paint and you have the makings of a Twister game in the yard.

The good thing is that you don’t have to stick to the dimensions of a standard Twister mat. Make a grid as big as you want with colored dots for a large group to play.

Look for cans of water-based marking paint or chalk paint, which will rub off, and grab a cardboard box. Cut a hole the size of the dots you want at the bottom of the box to use as a template, which will not only make the dots evenly shaped, but also reduce overspray.

You can mimic a real Twister rug by spraying four rows of six dots each – in red, green, blue, and yellow – or come out of the grid and spray random colored dots.

To create a wringer, draw a round plate on a foam board and cut it out by attaching a foam wringer with a thumbtack. Another option is to have a caller call up colors at random or blindly remove colors from a hat.

FRISBEE TIC-TAC-TOE

Another easy garden game is the tic-tac-toe frisbee. Buy six flying discs – three each in contrasting colors – or mark the discs you already have with X’s and O’s. Spray paint on a tic tac toe grid on the grass or chalk on the driveway. Players take turns throwing their Frisbee at the grid until someone lands three times in a row, horizontally, vertically or diagonally.

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Go further by creating a bigger grid and inviting more players to participate. Size is only limited by the size of your garden and your imagination.

FLAMING RING

Get a beach vibe by creating a flamingo ring toss game. Buy a few flamingo garden decorations at a local lawn and garden store and a few rings that will easily fit around each flamingo’s head.

Plant the flamingos in the ground or place them in pots filled with sand or gravel if you are playing on a hard surface.

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Look for plastic rings or glowing necklaces at a local dollar store. Buy rings in different colors or cover them with spray paint or colored tape. Divide the throwing rings between the players and start throwing.

Count points based on the number of rings each player places around a flamingo’s neck, or stagger the flamingos, awarding more points to those farther away.

JENGA BACKYARD

Everyone loves the classic Jenga table game. Have fun outdoors with an oversized version made up of simple planks.

To create a nice-sized tower, you will need six 2-by-4 boards that are 8 feet long. Whether you’re using scrap lumber or buying new, only straight planks will do. Examine the wood to make sure there are no bends.

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Measure the boards into 10½ inch long pieces and mark with a pencil. You should get nine pieces from each board.

The smooth blocks are either to play with, so sanding them down will make the game more fun.

When setting up the tower, use only a flat surface and lay them out in layers of three blocks each, alternating direction with each new layer.

Players take turns drawing a block from the middle or the bottom of the stack, until the tower collapses.

For additional variation, paint the ends of the blocks in different colors, challenging players to remove only certain colors on different turns.

DOMINOS DIY

A few pieces of wood can also be used to create an oversized domino set in the yard.

To make the 28 dominoes that come standard in a double-six set, you will need at least 28 feet of boards. Any wood 6 inches wide will work.

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Cut the wood into sections twice as long as they are wide. This will create the scale size you need. Sand the edges and stain the wood with whatever color wood stain you have on hand, but exterior paint will also do.

Once they’ve dried it’s time to add the stitches. For a clean look, create a stencil for the dots and lines of each domino, or stop by a craft store to pick up a paint stencil, which dabs the paint in round circles.

To create a standard set of dominoes, you will need each of the following: 0/0 to 0/6; 1/1 to 1/6; 2/2 to 2/6; 3/3 to 3/6; 4/4 to 4/6; 5/5 and 5/6; and 6/6.

Whatever garden games you choose to create and play, don’t forget to toss some frozen lemonade and maybe bring out some frozen treats for the ultimate outdoor play day.

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