Make a fun DIY backyard Plinko game that is perfect for parties, carnivals or school spirit activities (or drinko plinko if that’s your type of game!)! Super easy and tons of fun!

diy plinko game for backyard funpost sponsored by Elmer\'s disclosure block

I love backyard party games, and with Labor Day barbecues on the agenda for this upcoming weekend, I wanted to come up with a fun new game that my family hadn’t played before. I had a few large sheets of Elmer’s foam board on hand, so I came up with this fun twist on a classic game show favorite – Backyard Plinko!

Elmer's Foam Board

What You’ll Need:

  • (3) 30″x20″ Elmer’s Foam Boards
  • Elmer’s Board Mate glue and/or Glue All
  • Duct Tape
  • Scissors and Xacto knife
  • Approximately 50 toothpicks
  • (3) Recycled lids to serve as Plinko Chips
  • Glitter, stickers, etc. for embellishment

Foam Core Cut ChartCut one sheet of foam board as shown, and set all of the pieces aside. NOTE: The measurements above show four 2.5″x4″ pieces, however, the actual measurement should be 2-7/16″ (just slightly shorter!).

Elmer's Board Mate Dual Tip Glue PenGlue the two 2.5″x30″ strips perpendicular to the sides of the second sheet of foam board.

Building a Foam Board Plinko GameGlue the 4″ piece perpendicular to the bottom edge to serve as the base, and glue the 2″ wide piece parallel to the board across the bottom front (to serve as a lip).

Making a Foam Board Plinko GameHere’s a side view of how the pieces come together.

Elmer's Foam BoardsPlace the game board on top of the third sheet of foam board. Use a strip of duct tape to join the two sheets together and create a “hinge” along the top edge of the game board.

Cutting Foam BoardTake the 3″ wide strip and draw a pencil line 1/2″ from one edge.

cutting side pieces on cutting matCut a series of 6″ wide triangles down the length of the foam, making sure not to cut beyond the 1/2″ line. Trace the design on to the second 3″ wide strip, and cut again.

glittered foam pieces Now for the fun part – decorating! I used Board Mate glitter to give my triangles some sparkle and pizzazz. Ordinarily I would have let my boys use their imaginations and have fun with this step, but I wanted to save the finished game board as a surprise for them.

fully constructed Plinko board game for family game nightsGlue the triangle pieces into place (I trimmed about 1″ from the top of the bottom triangle to make more room for the chips to land in the chutes), and glue the remaining four pieces into the bottom to create the prize chutes. Add the game name, prize/score markers, and any other embellishment that you desire. I assigned a point value to each chute for our Plinko game, but it’s also fun to make each space a specific prize or reward. They’re great for school carnivals and school spirit activities!

Making Plinko PegsTo create the pegs, I used scissors to cut the tips from one side of the wooden toothpicks. Lightweight nails would also work well, but I didn’t have quite enough of them on hand, so I used toothpicks. I was really impressed with how sturdy the finished toothpick pegs were and how well they stood up to game play!

Open up the hinge of the game board so that there is only one layer of foam, and lay it flat on a hard surface (I laid mine on a cutting mat on top of my table). You only want to poke the toothpick pegs through one layer of foam, so don’t skip this step! Dip the pointed end of the toothpick into Elmer’s Glue All, and poke into the foam board. I didn’t measure mine, but I used a ruler to help me eyeball the spacing and keep them in a straight line. I used 32 toothpicks to create my pegs, but in hindsight I would have used a few more since my Plinko chips were a bit small in comparison to the size of the spaces between the pegs.

Backyard Plinko Game BoardAll finished and ready for game play! The “chips” are made from recycled lids that I spray painted blue.

Elmer's Chalk Foam Board and Painters Paint MarkersA sheet of Elmer’s Chalk Foam Board makes a great scoreboard! I used a Painters paint marker to trace around a template to create two boxes for score keeping.

scoreboard for outdoor family fun gamesEach box is numbered 1-21, and the player uses chalk to cross off each number as they score. Both players alternate taking turns – first one to hit 21 wins! (I love that this helps the kids practice their basic math skills!) I propped the score board up on the back side of the Pinko game, and the kids crossed off their numbers and kept score as they played the game. The Chalk Foam Board will wipe clean with a lightly damp cloth, so you can use it over and over again!

Foam Plinko Board

Playing Backyard PlinkoThe kids had a BLAST with our new Plinko game, and we can’t wait to bring it out again for some Labor Day fun this weekend!

Foam Core Plinko Game Board

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15 Comments

  1. How did you measure out the pegs for the board? I’ve got everything else done except that! Such a better design for a last minute plinko board.

    1. Hi Ashley,

      You can use a ruler to measure and mark off the spaces on the board before adding the toothpicks. Alternate your rows so that the tooth picks are offset between rows. The sizing will depend on the lids/caps you’re using, so just make sure to make the distance between the spaces are large enough for the caps to travel freely and not get stuck, but not SO far apart that they will fall straight down vs bouncing back and forth. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Thanks for this! I can’t wait to make a Halloween emoji themed one for a school Halloween party! Did you use 1/4″ or 1/2″ thick foam board? I think it’s 1/4″, but i just want to make sure. Thanks!

  3. How did you cut this so the foam wasn’t crumbling everywhere? Your edges look so neat, but mine are a mess ๐Ÿ™

    1. I cut my foam with an Xacto knife and a brand new blade and a metal ruler. It may take 2-3 passes of the blade to cut all the way through, but it should be smooth as long as your blade is nice and sharp.

  4. Absolutely love this! I decided to make this for our Halloween Trunk-o-treat last year. i love that You lists all the materials needed and also the measurements to make the game.

    i used a hot glue gun instead of the white school glue because i didn’t want to wait for it to dry before moving on to the next thing.

    i didn’t do the glitter thing like you did,. i used foam glitter paper and just glued the paper on top to make it look cleaner and no mess after.

    for my ‘chips’ i used the tops of baby food jars cuz i have WAY TOO MANY! haha

    i used the left over glitter foam paper to trace the tops of the baby food jar lids and glued them on top

    i added the halloween decorations to make it feel more themed for halloween rather than the carnival game feel and i didn’t label PLINKO on the top because my husband said he might want to use it in his class room for games and stuff

    the tricky part was the pegs. i used toothpicks like you did, but i chopped the pointy parts on both sides because i felt like it stuck in better and i used hot glue gun to stick them in. *update* I had to change the toothpicks out. The kids played it so much that the toothpicks couldn’t hold up so I used chopsticks instead. Thank you so much for this! It was a HUGE HIT!!

  5. Could you tell what the recycled lids are from? Are they Mason jar lids or old mayo lids? I just want to make sure I use the right size. Thanks!

  6. I’m using this for my wedding!! Saw the idea on a resale site and for a wooden one, she wanted $75, I get that her’s is sturdier, but we’ll only need it for one day and I can make it for under $10!! THANKS SO MUCH!!!!

  7. Aww you have no idea how much I love this Heidi. I’ve always loved Plinko and wanted to make a board myself but never got around to it. Love this!