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Given our new schooling situation because of all this Corona Virus craziness, I’m having to go through all of our games and toys to find stuff to do outside so we can get our credits for PE this year! And because of all this we have rediscovered two of our favorites, Bocce Ball and Corn Hole!

Both are perfect games to play outside with your family. I’m a hug fan of Corn Hole, but Bocce Ball is slowly catching up… And the good news is, you can play Bocce Ball anywhere. Yes…my kids and I prefer the Bocce Ball courts at my sister’s park in Winnetka, but in a pinch, your backyard will work just as well!

And Corn Hole is just as much fun. In our “House Divided,” we made and painted our own boards – one is for my husband the Aggie, and one is for me, the Red Raider. But you can build and paint them (or not) with any theme or color.

Bocce Ball or Corn Hole?

Okay…which team do you play for?  Bocce Ball or Corn Hole?  For me, it’s a tough choice!  It was easy for me before our trip to Chicago.  I was totally team Corn Hole!  While we were visiting my sister in Chicago, she convinced me and my kids to join her in a game of Bocce Ball.  I had heard of it, but really had no idea what it was all about…  So glad I was finally introduced to it – what fun!  The simplest game (just like Corn Hole), that is fun for the whole family!

Bocce Ball…

When we played Bocce Ball in Chicago, we played on a Bocce Ball court up at the local public park near my sister’s house.  I figured we would never play this game except for when we were in Chicago because I don’t know of any Bocce Ball courts near my home.  I was a little sad, because we had so much fun, but then I found all kinds of places people play Bocce Ball – on the sand at the beach, in the grass in your own yard, or anywhere you can find some open space.  You don’t have to have an official Bocce Ball court, although I think that is what I prefer (now having played it both ways).

Bocce Ball and Corn Hole
Here we are…playing our first game of Bocce Ball at Hubbard Woods Park with Aunt B and Logan. We were excited to play on a real Bocce Ball Court!

But don’t worry…when I was reading up on Bocce Ball, I found a website that designs and sells portable Bocce Ball courts!  On the website Backyard Bocce, you can actually order a portable, lightweight Bocce ball court!  Isn’t that crazy?  I totally want one.  I think I’ll just have my husband “build” one.  I can’t imagine it would be too difficult.  What do you think?  Well…if you thought it would be easy, then you are right.

If you can't decide which team's ball is closer, you can use the tape measure!
If you can’t decide which team’s ball is closer, you can use the tape measure!

They describe their mission as promoting the international sport of Bocce around the world by bringing it to everyone’s “backyard” through portable Bocce courts. The courts are a cost effective alternative to professionally landscaped courts that can cost several thousand dollars to build and are a more practical solution than makeshift courts made of heavy wood or PVC or crudely constructed court boundaries made of rope, string, chalk, or paint.

A court consists of a bocce boundary made of a heavy duty white vinyl that provides the layout of a court and can be setup on grass, dirt, clay, or sand surfaces, with grass being the ideal surface. Courts are lightweight, portable, and designed for easy set-up and take down.

Of course after learning that I could buy a Bocce ball court, I went in search of how to build a Bocce Ball court yourself, and would you believe the DIY Network Website has step by step directions with pictures!  Simple!

I will just forward this information to my husband and we’ll be playing Bocce ball in our backyard before this post goes out.  Well…maybe not that fast.  After all, it did take a couple of years to get my Corn Hole boards built…

According to the directions, the materials and tools are simple.  They are listed below:


  • rake
  • sod cutter
  • laser level
  • compactor
  • circular saw


  • decomposed granite
  • base rock
  • stakes
  • flour
  • 2×6 boards
  • wood screws

Just click on the DIY Network website link above, and you can see all the detailed directions, the pictures, and a how-to video!  If you actually build one, please share it with me.  I’d love to see it.  Not sure I’ll ever convince Mark to actually build one.  You never know…

How Do You Play Bocce Ball?

This is a typical Bocce Ball scoring tower that you will find on most Bocce courts!
This is a typical Bocce Ball scoring tower that you will find on most Bocce courts!

Bocce Ball is played with two teams – you can have anywhere from 1-4 players on each team.  The number of players on each team determines how many balls each player gets to throw (or roll).  Bocce ball is a simple game that uses 8 very heavy balls and one target ball called a Pallina!  

Each team has 4 balls of the same color/pattern so you can tell the two teams apart.  The Pallina is a smaller white ball – the goal is to get your team’s Bocce ball closer to the Pallina than the other team.

To start your game, the pallina is rolled or tossed by a member one of the teams (coin toss can help decide which team has this job).   A player tosses the Pallina any distance as long as it passes the center line of the playing area and stays within the boundaries of the set area.  If you’re playing in your yard, the distance (and playing area) can be determined by all the players.

All balls must be thrown underhanded.  You can roll, toss, or bounce the ball down the court (or playing area) provided it does not go outside the boundaries.  And be sure you don’t cross the foul line.  The foul line is where you must stop to release the ball – if you cross it, your turn doesn’t count.   There are several ways to score, but the most common is to give one point for each ball that is closer to the pallina than the closest ball of the opposing team.

Only one team scores in a frame.  If you are not sure which team is closer to the pallina, you should measure the distance from the pallina to the Bocce balls.   All measurements should be made from the center of the pallina to the edge of a Bocce ball.  Most Bocce Ball kits come with a tape measure!   Most games are played to 16 points with the first team reaching 16 points being the winner of a game.

What is the History of Bocce Ball?

Can you believe that Bocce is the second most played sport in the world (soccer is first).  It is one of the earliest known games.  The exact time and place of origin are unknown, but it has been dated  back to 5000 B.C. in Egypt.  From Egypt, the game spread to Greece in 300 B.C. and the Roman Empire 2000 years ago.  Bocce was originally played with polished stones and involved tossing the stones with the intent of coming close to a smaller target stone (it hasn’t changed much since the beginning).

The game really began to grow in Europe.  In Italy, the game is called Bocce, in France it is known as Petanque or Boules, and in Great Britain it is called Lawn Bowling or Bowls. Even today, all three games are very similar in nature, but have many different variations and rules.  These have evolved over time a bit from cultural differences, tradition, and local customs.

In fact, my sister told me that most people who play (in her circle) play on courts.  Around here, it seems that most people play in their yards and instead of rolling the balls, they are tossed!  So…I guess it just depends where you are and who you are playing with.

If this still doesn’t make much sense to you, and you’re having trouble picture it,  you can watch this video on You Tube titled How to Play Bocce!  It gives you a really good idea of what the game is like when you are not playing on a designated Bocce space.

Corn Hole…

Now on to Corn Hole!  A game I’m sure most of you have seen and probably played!  I often refer to it as “Bean Bag Toss.”  Because in its simplest terms, it is a bean bag toss!  Depending on how you choose to score your game though, it can become quite complex!  It’s a perfect game (just like Bocce) for the whole family.  It can be tweaked just enough to fit all the ages of everyone in your group!

As you can see from our Corn Hole boards, we are a house divided!
As you can see from our Corn Hole boards, we are a house divided!  We (my husband) built these ourselves using directions below.  The college stickers can be ordered on the Internet (almost all colleges are available)!

One of the funniest things I read about Corn Hole was the description of it on one website.  It described the game as an American lawn game in which players take turns throwing bags of corn (or bean bags) at a raised platform with a hole in the far end.  But the funny part was all the other names it listed that people use to refer to Corn Hole – names included dummy boards, bean bag toss, dad hole, doghouse, Baggo, and bags.  I think I might just stick with Bean Bag Toss!

After watching people play Corn Hole on the beach for several years, I finally was able to play it at The Surf Hut in Florida after dinner one night.  It was then that I decided I need some Corn Hole boards of my own.  I now understood why people spent so much effort lugging their heavy Corn Hole boards down to the beach each day to play all day long off and on.  I couldn’t understand what the attraction was.  After all, it was bean bag toss.  Right?

I wanted my information about Corn Hole to be accurate, so I read up on it on the Internet.  Would you believe that there is an American CornHole Association??  Who knew?  I mean, I’ve seen some pretty serious Corn Holers on the beach each year, but never knew there was an association just for Corn Hole.  Impressive, right?

Their website says their mission is to introduce our friends and neighbors to the game of Cornhole or Corn Toss (some folks call it Bean Bag or Bean Toss) and to establish more standardized rules for Cornhole or Corn Toss play around the country.

And don’t worry…just like Bocce Ball, you can easily build your own Corn Hole boards.  I searched on the DIY Network Website again for Corn Hole directions, and there they were!  Easy peezy!  Their website says this bean-bag toss game is fun and easy for the whole family. Building a set is a fairly easy woodworking project, and since it’s made from exterior wood, it will last for years.  No excuses, right?

Bocce v Corn Hole
Here are a few cell phone pictures of our Corn Hole board process! You can tell from the clothes that it took several seasons to complete! I think the beer may have been part of the reason it took so long…  And maybe part of the reason one of the legs is a bit wobbly…

The materials and tools for Corn Hole are also simple.  They are listed below:


  • jig saw
  • measuring Tape
  • compass
  • drill with drill bit and Phillips-head screw bit
  • 1/2″ drill bit
  • clamps
  • circular saw
  • random orbit sander
  • paint roller


  • (2) 24″ x 48″ pieces of 1/2″ pressure-treated plywood for the surface
  • (4) 2×4 x 48″ for the frame
  • (4) 2×4 x 21″ for the frame
  • (4) 2×4 x 11-1/2″ for the legs
  • 1-lb. box of 1-5/8″ deck screws
  • (4) 4″ carriage bolts with (4) washers and (4) wing nuts
  • wood putty
  • high-gloss paint
  • primer

Just click on the DIY Network website link above, and you can see all the detailed directions and the pictures for Corn Hole boards! If you actually build one, please share it with me. I’d love to see yours. I was able to convince Mark to build us some Corn Hole boards, but it was a lengthy project – it kept getting put on the back burner, so our weekend project turned into a year long process…  I’m sure you can do it in a weekend if you stick to the how-to instructions from the DIY Network website!  Good luck…

How Do You Play Corn Hole?

Even our kids love Corn Hole. And the boards are very sturdy - I know this because they like to stand on them!
Even our kids love Corn Hole. And the boards are very sturdy – I know this because my kids stand on them all the time!

To start, you decide who goes first, and then you take turns throwing bags with your opponent at your Corn Hole board. You throw one bag, then your opponent, then you, etc…  Your feet should not go past the edge of the Corn Hole board you are standing near.  

When all 8 bags have been tossed to the Corn Hole board on the other side, add up the score (several ways to score). If you earned the most points in that single round, your team will throw first in the next round.

Simple, right?  Well…it is if you use simple scoring rules.  You can adjust the scoring based on the group you are playing with, or like my family, we sort of make up our own rules and values for the bean bag tosses as we go along.

The most common form of scoring goes like this…  After all bags have been thrown, any bags remaining on the board are worth 1 point.  Any bag that went in the hole is worth 3 points.  Add up how many points you earned and compare them to your opponents.  

If both teams score equal points, they cancel each other out so that only one team can score per round.  So…if your team scored 5 points and your opponent scored 3, you will add 2 points to your overall score.

The team who scored the most points will throw first in the next round.   If you scored 6 points and your opponent scored 6 also, no points are awarded.  Most people play to 21 points – however, feel free to change this!  We often do when playing with our kids, because reaching 21 points could sometimes take all day!

Of course, you can play with your own rules too.  Many people like to play with the rule that you must reach 21 exactly.  This makes it a bit harder!  If you go over in points, your score is automatically reduced to 11 and play continues.  Another way to play is simply to count every point (no negation of equal points) and see who has the most points at the end of however many rounds you choose to play.

What is the History of Corn Hole?

Well…finding the origins of Corn Hole proved to be much more difficult than I thought it would be.  Seems to depend on what part of the country you are in when doing your research.  The stories about how it all began are quite different.  I read many times that tribes of ancient civilizations tossed rocks at holes in the ground, and that this was the beginning of Corn Hole as we know it now.

If you believe what Wikipedia has to say, then you would find out that the history of the game is mostly unknown, though stories abound. One story claims that the game was first played during the 14th century in Germany. The game is generally considered to have originated in America on the west side of Cincinnati. It is widely popular at tailgate events throughout the Midwest and has recently become a nationwide favorite, even having national championships on ESPN.

Another source said Corn Hole may have originated amongst Native American tribes who used to try to fill pig bladders with dried beans for entertainment.  What?  Gross!  And on one site, there was a story of  a Midwestern farmer named Jebediah who created the game all by himself in his barn as a way to pass time with his family and friends.  So, when it comes to the history of Corn Hole, the only thing I can tell you is that I don’t know!  And nobody else seems to either.

As I mentioned earlier, I think it depends on what part of the country you’re in.  Anyway…that doesn’t really matter – whoever invented it is a genius, because my family and I have enjoyed many hours of Corn Hole in our driveway!

Of course, the Texas Tech board is my favorite!
Of course, the Texas Tech board is my favorite!  And I’ve already taught this little bit to “get her guns up”!

I read a very interesting article about a town in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania that held a Corn Hole tournament to try and raise some money to renovate their town’s library!  Cool idea, right?  Teams paid $25 to enter the Corn Hole Tournament.  The article was called Cornhole Tourny Raises Funds for Chambersburg Library.  You can read more about it by clicking on the article title!  And…keep this in mind for any fund-raisers you might be involved in.  

I know I would love to pay $25 to play in a Corn Hole Tournament!  My Corn Hole buddy and I would win the whole thing.  We’d get bragging rights for sure, and maybe even a plaque with our names on it like the winner of this tournament got!

So there you have it!  Bocce Ball or Corn Hole?  Which game will you play?  Or will you be like me and play both?  I just couldn’t pick one…  For now, we’ll play Corn Hole in the driveway with our homemade boards, and we’ll play Bocce Ball in the yard with our wonderful Bocce Ball Kit!  Whichever one you decide to play, have fun and let me know what you think!  Until next time…

Bocce v Corn Hole
So…here you go…Bocce Ball or Corn Hole? We couldn’t decide, so we play both! Whichever one you choose, enjoy! And as always…let me know how it goes!