cornhole

Cornhole is a summertime game that can be played by anyone who can toss a beanbag.

Temperatures are continuing to rise as school years come to a close.

Every year, those are two sure signs that summer break is right around the corner for students all across the area. However, the coronavirus pandemic has placed all sorts of summer plans in uncertainty at best and canceled them at worst.

Continued social distancing doesn’t mean a summer without fun, though. Here are just a few outdoor games families of all sizes and ages can play right in their own backyards as summer begins.

Cornhole: A summer classic and a tailgate staple. Fire up the grill at home instead, and grab a set of beanbags as teams of one or two players try to toss their colored bags on a board several yards away — and through a hole in the board for bonus points — until a fixed winning score is reached.

Kan Jam: The official brand-name game runs for $40 on Amazon, but all it takes is a flying disc to be on the way to improvising a DIY version. Under the original rules, teams of two are split up between a couple of cans spread out by 50 feet. One player throws the disc at the other can, and his or her teammate can deflect the Frisbee toward the can. A simple redirected hit is worth one point, a direct hit without any deflection scores two points, and a deflection into the can is a 3-point play; first to 21 wins. Threading the Frisbee into a thin slot at the front of the can, meanwhile, ends the game on an instant win.

Spikeball: This hybrid of volleyball and four square has gained popularity in recent years and is sold for $60 on the official brand’s website. In the most common version of Spikeball, two teams surround a net resembling a miniature trampoline. Each side has up to three hits to return the ball back to the net, similar to how volleyball teams get three hits to send the ball over the net.

Bocce: An extremely simple game that feels like a backyard version of curling or shuffleboard. Teams take turns trying to bowl colored balls as close as possible to a smaller, white ball known as a jack or pallino, which is thrown a short distance away at the start of each round. The team that finishes a round closest to the pallino scores one point for every ball that’s closer to the pallino than the other team’s closest ball. Bocce sets can be found on sites like Wayfair for about $45.

Basketball: Lucky enough to have a hoop at home? Even when it’s safe to return to playgrounds, there are all sorts of games that can keep your shooting form sharp. H-O-R-S-E, Around the World and 21 (a game with too many variations to list) are all well known.

Another, In the Bank, focuses on consistency at the foul line. Every game starts with one point “in the bank.” Players take turns shooting free throws, and each consecutive make adds another point in the bank; so, four straight baskets brings the total to five points. The first player to miss a foul shot breaks the bank, receives those points and resets the bank to one. The key is to keep a low score; players lose when they surpass a predetermined point limit like seven or 15. A hot streak at the foul line can lead to some high-pressure moments as the bank’s value gets out of hand.

Jenga Giant: Take the popular tabletop game outdoors with a jumbo-sized version. Players repeatedly try to remove a block from a tower and place it on top of the structure without knocking it over. The giant version, which has a generic set available on Walmart.com for $50, can stack higher than 5 feet.

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