The great thing about lawn games — at least some of the newer ones — is that they are usually more fun than they sound.

Take cornhole — also called bean bag — a Midwestern staple currently enjoying new popularity with the 20-something set.

Basically, you try to toss a bag full of corn kernels into a hole in a board.

Then there’s washer pitching, where you toss little metal washers, trying to land them inside a can, which is inside a box.

Or there are new lawn games, like KanJam, throwing a disc into a can. And there are really old ones, like kubb, which reportedly dates to the Vikings and is sort of a cross between horseshoes and bowling.

But the simple fact of all these lawn games is that it doesn’t take a lot in the way of mechanisms or layouts to have fun in your backyard.

“We like cornhole because it’s something all ages can do. There’s really no inherent advantage to being an adult,” said George Ellis, who has organized cornhole games at the Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland annual barbecues. “Over the years of doing this I found that it’s better to get the bags filled with corn, not beans, because they create a corn dust that helps the bag slide across the board.”

Now that it’s summer in Maine for a few minutes, don’t you think it’s time to put away the video games, get outdoors and try some new games?

If you do, here is a quick primer on some simple, old- and new-fashioned lawn games you might want to play.


Referred to by some as “Viking chess,” this game is huge in Sweden and in U.S. states where a lot of folks have Scandinavian heritage.

The object is to knock over your opponent’s five kubb blocks (wooden rectangles) with an underhand toss of a throwing stick, which looks like a fat dowel. And eventually, you want to knock over the one king, a stocky wooden block with a crown carved on top. (I could not make this stuff up.) The kubb blocks protect the king from the sticks.

For kubb rules and piece dimensions, you can check online at and click kubb in the left column, or at The latter group organizes the U.S. National Kubb Championship.

You can buy kubb sets online, including at They have kubb game sets, made of wood, for $59.99.


The name is little strange-sounding for some people, so this game also goes by the milder name of bean bag.

Like a lot of lawn games, the overall point is to toss something and get it closer to something than your opponent. In this case you toss a soft bag filled with corn kernels, or beans, on to a sloped wooden platform.

You score points for getting your bag in the hole or on the platform. On the platform is one point and in the hole is three, according to the American Cornhole Association (I’m not making that up either).

The game has been big in places like Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio for a long time, but is becoming popular everywhere.

Full rules, along with specific dimensions of the platforms if you want to build them yourself, can be found on the association’s website,

If you want to buy cornhole platforms or bags, there are several retailers online, including They have starter kits, with two boards, bags, carrying bags and scoreboards, for $159.


This proves you can make a game out of anything. Take washers, the little metal discs that are vital to various nut and bolt combinations. They are also crucial to the game of washer pitching, often just called washers.

There seem to be many variations of this game, but basically you toss the tiny washer underhanded toward a cup or can that is either sitting in a wooden box, or below the hole in a wooden board.

Boxes are about 20 feet apart, and the scoring is sort of like horseshoes. You get three points for a washer in the cup or hole, one point for a washer in the box, and the first one to 21 wins.

For more information about washer toss, including a list of tournaments and instructions for building your own washer boxes, go to

If you’re interested in buying a washer game set, or washers with cool graphics (the American flag or your favorite college, for instance) go to


This seems to be catching on lately on Maine beaches.

The generic game is called ladder toss while the brand-name one is Ladder Golf.

The basics of the game include two free-standing, three-rung “ladders” or racks, and six “bolas” or strings with balls attached to each end.

Basically you throw the ball-and-string gizmos and try to get them to hang from or wrap around a rung, scoring different points depending on the rung.

If you want to build your own ladder toss set with PVC pipe and rubber balls, go to and click “ladder toss” in the left column. The website also gives the rules.

If you’re interested in a spiffy new Ladder Golf set that’s ready for beach use, check out Single-ladder games are about $59.


Talk about simple. This game consists of throwing a flying disc at or into a can about 50 feet from the thrower.

It gets more complicated though, because you play in teams.

One person throws and one can “deflect” the disc. The deflector can’t catch or carry the disc, just deflect it.

You get different scores for hitting the can directly, by deflection or when the disc lands in the can, either through the top or the slot in the side.

For more info or to buy yourself a KanJam set, go to

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

[email protected]