FamilyParenting

‘Toddler Cornhole Race’ Is The Backyard BBQ Game Your Kids Have Been Waiting For

This post originally appeared at https://www.fatherly.com/play/toddler-cornhole-race/

Toddler Cornhole Race’ is a fast-paced, kid-friendly version of every adult’s favorite backyard BBQ game that blends a running race with tossing bean bags. As any parent who’s ever tried to play Cornhole with kids around knows, it’s not easy. Toddlers immediately gravitate to the bags, grab them off the boards in the middle of the game, and drop them into the holes. It tends to disrupt the play, to say the least.

I improvised this version of the game at a friend’s backyard cookout as a way to get my twin toddlers involved in the action when it became clear they were getting bored chasing the dog. After showing them how to drop the bean bags in each hole, they quickly took over, and I added the race component ⏤ running to, and sliding down, each board in between throws ⏤ to make it more fun and exhausting. It didn’t take long to realize that Cornhole actually helps build motor skills and dexterity, encourages activity and fitness, and brings kids closer to their parents and friends through social play. Not only that, but let them play a few rounds in the beginning and eventually they’ll tucker out enough that the adults can get in a game or two.

Prep Time: 2 minutes, or enough time to set up the boards and grab a couple of bean bags or any other objects to throw.
Entertainment Time: 15 to 45 minutes depending on age and attention span.
Energy Expended by Child: Moderate to high physical from running back and forth between the boards and picking up and throwing bean bags. For young toddlers, moderate mental as well, from the concentration needed to line up a throw.

What You Need:

  • An official cornhole set and/or two rectangular boards (plus a marker to draw two big circles) and some bricks on which to lean them. If you don’t own cornhole, don’t fret, two cardboard boxes will suffice ⏤ simply cut a hole in the top of each.
  • Objects to drop or throw into the holes: Official bean bags, tennis balls, blocks, stuffed toys, whatever you have around.

How to Set Up:
Setup is the same as if you were playing a game of cornhole yourself, except you’ll position the boards much closer together depending on the age of the kids and/or how much you want to wear them out. As the game involves running between the two boards, the further apart you position them, the more energy kids will have to expend to win the race. For smaller toddlers, best to keep them relatively close together. Once the boards or boxes are in place, you’re ready to play.

How to Play:
Obviously, the premise of ‘Toddler Cornhole Race’ is similar to the real game: Get the bean bags (or other fun objects) into the holes. Except for the kids, it’s also a race in which they run back and forth between the two boards until they either fall over or hit the winning score. It also differs in that kids can either throw or drop the bags in ⏤ again depending on age ⏤ as well as slide down the boards after they sink their bags (this part is optional).

As most parents know all too well, toddlers will naturally gravitate to grabbing the bean bags and dropping them in the holes. This shouldn’t take much explanation, but parents may still want to demonstrate throwing the bean bags so younger kids can see how it’s done. They should also cheer loudly for every bag a kid deposits in the hole to both generate enthusiasm and keep them interested.

To start, line two kids up next to one of the boards as if they were about to throw the bags in a normal game. Quickly explain the rules, as well as decide what constitutes winning ⏤ either a set number of points (one point for each bag in the hole ⏤ or laps, maybe 2-3 times back and forth. Next, either count down from three or yell “ready set, go!” and the race is on. Both players should run to the other board and drop the bags in the hole. Older kids should stop in front of the board and actually throw the bags into the hole like adults, retrieving any that land on the board and trying again. After sinking both bags, players should then run behind, climb up, and slide down the board. They can even do their best to impede the other thrower who may still trying to get their bags in the hole.

After sliding down the board, the kids should grab both of their bags from underneath and race back to the other side to repeat the action. Again, play can continue to a set score or designated number of laps with the first player to sink the bags or cross the finish line first declared the winner.

Wrap Up:
‘Toddler Cornhole Race’ provides a fun way to bond with kids, encourages healthy habits like exercising outside, and builds motor skills. It’s both a great way to bring kids into the action during summer backyard parties and tire them out in the process ⏤ hopefully, so you can get a real game of bean bag in before the party’s over.