Where I live, this is the transition time between Fool’s Spring and Second Winter. Swamp Spring is yet to come, but it, too, will be here soon. Then we’ll celebrate Here There Be Tornados Month!
I’m usually all for healthy outdoor living, but this is very much the time of year when I prefer to stay far away from the freezing drizzle, and instead light a candle, tuck up under a blanket, and do something cozy inside.
Kids, though? Kids get squirrely when they’re cooped up inside too much, but they also have that ridiculous tendency to get hypothermia if you let them play in the freezing drizzle too long. What you need to keep them happy and entertained and non-frostbitten on these miserable late winter days is games! Lots and lots of indoor games!
Homemade games add an extra-fun element to any indoor play. You can customize your homemade games to perfectly suit the interests and current abilities of your kids, and older kids can even help with their creation.
Below, you’ll find a list of my favorite homemade games. Invite your favorite kid to help you make one of these projects, then play it together. Before you know it, Here There Will Be Hurricanes Month will have passed and you’ll be ready to go outside for your week of Proper Spring!
That favorite homemade game will be waiting for you inside the very next week, when the season of Mosquitoes Have Entered the Chat begins.
Matching and Memory Games
- scrap fabric and felt Memory. Sew up a custom Memory game using all your favorite fabric scraps.
- matching game from a kid’s artwork. Kids can design their own custom Memory games using their own original artwork. The secret ingredient is a printer!
- photo Memory. Memory is even more fun when the matching pieces include actual photos of a kid’s family, friends, and pets. For extra fun, slip in a few images of their favorite book or movie characters, too!
- DIY Guess Who. Customize a thrifted Guess Who game, or DIY one from scratch. There are so many ways to make this game educational! Little kids will be thrilled to see the faces of their friends and family on the tiles. For bigger kids, you can make the game entirely about American presidents, or animals, or authors–whatever seems interesting and fun!
Cool Math Games
- Multiplication Touch. This is a game I made up to teach and reinforce the multiplication facts for my kids, and they LOVED it! They actually played it long after they’d memorized their multiplication tables, because the strategy and logic required are just that interesting.
- Lu-Lu dice. It’s a math game, but also a game of chance, so hallelujah those younger siblings get an equal chance at winning for a change!
- chess. There are tons of different ways to DIY your own chess set. I love this kid-friendly set with a potato-stamped gameboard and rock game pieces!
Kid-Friendly Whole Family Games
- Troll My Dame. It’s boring to stay sitting on your butt all the time. If you want to crawl around on the floor for a while instead, make this fun marble shooting game using corrugated cardboard and modeling clay.
- Quoridor. This beautiful strategy game requires some woodworking skills to create, but the result is an heirloom-quality board game.
- bottle cap tic-tac-toe. Bottle caps are difficult to recycle, so might as well upcycle them into a fun game, instead!
- cardboard box video game. Upcycle a cardboard box into a magnetic version of your kid’s favorite video game.
- DIY Connect Four. DIYing your own Connect Four game lets you customize it to your liking. Change the sizing to make it super challenging!
- fabric checkerboard. Checkerboards are generally cheap, ugly cardboard. This is a terrific way to make a checkerboard that’s heirloom-quality and lovely. Customize it with special fabrics, and upcycle buttons as the playing pieces.
- dinosaur chess. After you’ve customized your checkerboard, why not also customize the pieces?
- homemade Quirkle. Quirkle was our absolute favorite family game for years, and it’s still one that we pull out more often than not on family game nights. This DIY version is a great way to add some custom graphics to this awesome game. Instead of using the tutorial’s suggestion of vinyl, which is not eco-friendly, for the graphics, cut a reusable stencil and hand-paint the graphics.
- 3D Snakes and Ladders. You can customize this DIY game by choosing the boxes that you upcycle–I desperately want to see one that’s at least as tall as a person! Snakes and Ladders lends itself perfectly to this multi-level format, but feel free to get even more creative and figure out how to turn any of your favorite games 3D. Wouldn’t a Monopoly tower be so fun?!?
- color dominoes with rocks. What to do with your kid’s endless collection of rocks? Paint them pretty colors and make them into color dominoes! Use water-based, washable paint so you can make the rocks look good as new when their time as dominoes is finished.
- customized Candyland. Use the basic pieces of a game you already own to create an all-new game with a fun, customized theme. This is a great gift for someone who’s obsessed with a particular fandom.
- mancala. A very clever construction technique means that there’s no router needed to make this wooden mancala gameboard, although you’ll still want a good drill and a jigsaw.
- Konane. The tutorial for this similar gameboard does call for a router, but if you don’t have one, check out the previous tutorial and utilize their trick!
- triangle peg game. This little logic game was one of my favorites when I was a kid! I’m used to seeing them made with plastic and with golf tees as pegs, so this hardwood and nail version is much more classy.
Do you have a DIY game that’s a family favorite? Tell me about it in the Comments!