Make A Giant Outdoor Kerplunk Game From Tomato Cages

Make a giant outdoor kerplunk game from tomato cages  - Design Dazzle!

If you are trying to find a way to get your family outdoors making good summer memories here is a fabulous family game! Make a giant outdoor Kerplunk game from tomato cages! On those hot summer days or nights you can get outside with family of any age and play this exciting game of suspense and strategy. No tools needed to make this. See the instructions below for details

Playing the giant oudoor kerplunk game - Design Dazzle

Make an outdoor kerplunk game using tomato cages - Design Dazzle

Now the object of the game is to pull out a stick without making the balls drop. Everyone takes a turn pulling a stick out one by one. Then if a ball or two drops (or 30) you keep them and at the end of the game count how many balls you made drop. Usually the last few sticks will make all the balls drop so the suspense is who will be the one to pull that last stick. Make your own rules. Maybe play 3 games and the one who has least amount of points (balls dropped) wins!


– 3 Tomato Cages (you can purchase these at Lowe’s or Home Depot – they already came painted blue)

– Zip Ties

clear vinyl fabric (1/4 yard)

– 20 PVC Pipes 36″ or 30″ in length (10 ft pole $1.78 each)

– Primer (optional)

– Spray Paint (optional: Blue, Green, Orange, Yellow, and Pink)

– Ball Pit Balls

tomato cage outdoor game

Building this colorful outdoor game took some trial and error before we got it just right. The first thing we worked on was how many tomato cages we needed to stack. We arrived at 3 cages stacked together and zip tied into place. Three cages gave the height needed.

attaching vinyl for kerplunk game

The next step was finding what we should use at the top of the cages to make sure the plastic balls wouldn’t fall out of the sides of the tomato cages. Our first thought was to weave rope in and out of the wires but that didn’t work so well. We cut out some vinyl punched holes in it and  zip tied the vinyl to the top of the cage. Great solution!

We started out with wooden dowels for the poles but they were pretty expensive. So PVC pipe to the rescue!  Lets not forget to mention they are pretty cheap too! We had Lowes cut the 10 ft PVC pipes for us into 3 or 4 pieces because we tried 3 ft poles and 2 & 1/2 ft poles. If it’s a slow day (at Lowes or Home Depot) they will cut it for you or they have a tool to cut it for yourself. It’s very easy to cut. Both sizes worked – it depends on your preference (and if big kids or small kids are playing).

The next step is optional; spray painting the PVC pipes took the longest time with waiting for the paint to dry and several coats. First thing you do is spray all of them with primer. This will make it so that the paint will stick to the plastic pipes for the most part, it did chip in some areas while playing the game. Once the pipes are evenly sprayed and dry you can spray them with the colors. We used blue, green, orange, yellow and pink spray paints for the poles to match the colors of the plastic ball pit balls. There were 4 poles of each color. This step is pretty impractical but the colors were so cute!

kerplunk game made with tomato cages

Now on to playing the game. What is so nice about the tomato cages is that you can stick them into the grass. So then the trick is to put the poles through the cages in a way that they will suspend the plastic balls in the cage. Once you see there are no gaping holes in the poles and cage you can pour the plastic balls in on top of the poles.This giant kerplunk game is fun for all ages! Take the family outside and enjoy the beautiful summer weather and make those fun family memories!

Ball Pit Balls


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Make a giant outdoor kerplunk game using tomato cages - Design Dazzle

Posted on June 3, 2013
Categories: creative ideas, diy projects, diy tutorials & creative ideas, holiday awesomeness, repurposing, summer camp, summer camp, toni's projects, ideas and tips

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  1. RM, Home Confetti says:
    June 3, 2013

    This is a great idea! Haven’t seen anything like this!

  2. Angelina-JoJo and Eloise says:
    June 11, 2013

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE this!!! I am totally going to make this with the kids. They are going to have so much fun!!!

    • Toni - Design Dazzle says:
      June 12, 2013

      Thanks, Angelina!! It is a fun activity. If you don’t paint the PVC pipe, it is a very quick project. But I like things to be pretty ; )

  3. Brinda Coble says:
    June 15, 2013

    I love this giant game! I’m going to try this to play with my g-kids and church youth.

    • Toni - Design Dazzle says:
      June 16, 2013

      That is great Brinda! Have fun playing with you grandkids and the church kids!

  4. Crystal Biesinger says:
    June 18, 2013

    May I ask on the “kerplunk” game if the balls to order are regular or small. The price you quoted on TV indicates the small but there are no measurements to go by. Thank you.

    • Toni - Design Dazzle says:
      June 18, 2013

      Hi Crystal!
      I’m not sure. I checked the package for the size and the insert is missing. I purchase the set at Toys R Us and the set of plastic balls was under $20. They are about 3 inches in size. I didn’t realize I quoted a price on TV. Hope this helps.

  5. Lisa says:
    August 12, 2013

    Hi! How did you modify the rules for the game? Did you just say the person who makes the most balls drop down loses?

    Thanks! 🙂

    • Toni - Design Dazzle says:
      August 12, 2013

      We just made up our own rules. We play 3 games and the one with the least amount of points wins. So each time you drop some balls, keep them in your pile. At the end of the game count how many balls you have. At the end of the 3 games who ever has the least amount of points (balls) wins. Enjoy!

      • Lisa says:
        August 13, 2013

        Thank you! We can’t wait!

  6. Maria says:
    March 25, 2014

    I would love to do this in our VBS but where did you purchase the clear vinyl

    • Toni - Design Dazzle says:
      March 25, 2014

      Most fabric stores carry this in the home decor section on a roll. Have fun playing!

  7. Jennifer Ferrari says:
    June 23, 2014

    I am going to make this game for our yard today! Love the idea and curious about your thoughts on using swim noodles instead of PVC. Would it work?

    • Toni - Design Dazzle says:
      June 25, 2014

      I’m glad you like it! I don’t think swim noodles would work. For one – they are too thick and would also need to slide out easily (don’t think that would work).Good luck!

  8. Angelique Jones says:
    July 11, 2014

    I saw this idea on a few other pages but it requires tools. I love the idea of the tomato cages. I will be doing this for my daughters game party next week. I am so happy I stumbled on your page.

    • Toni - Design Dazzle says:
      July 13, 2014

      Yes, this is the easy version! Make sure you have enough pvc pipe to cover enough space so the balls can be poured into the “kerplunk”

  9. Bob Stead says:
    August 2, 2014

    I just made this today for my son, we will play tonight. I did find a cool alternative to the clear vinyl. I bought a clear shower curtain at Wal-Mart so the top of it already had grommets for attaching with zip ties, and I used colored tape for the PVC, was less time consuming that paint, although I’m not sure how well it will work just yet. Thanks for the idea!!!!

    • Toni - Design Dazzle says:
      August 4, 2014

      Love both of your ideas Bob!! They do simplify it quite a bit. Thank you so much for sharing.

  10. Val says:
    February 9, 2015

    going to make this for Easter and use plastic eggs instead of the balls

  11. gleice noleto says:
    March 4, 2015

    Very good.

  12. gleice noleto says:
    March 4, 2015

    mande-me idéias

  13. Darla says:
    June 12, 2016

    I’m in the middle of making this. Did you stagger the tomato cages? It doesn’t seem to be too sturdy.?? We did use shrink wrap around the top that worked well (my husband had a roll in his shop).

    • Toni - Design Dazzle says:
      June 29, 2016

      Hi Darla,
      I zip tied the tomato cages together and there were staggered to give it height. My tomatoe cages were very sturdy to begin with. There are some tomato cages I wouldn’t use because they would be considered “dinky”. Glad the shrink wrap worked. Fun idea!

  14. Paulette says:
    June 28, 2016

    I love this idea…thank you for sharing! I am very much interested in making this, so I headed to Home Depot. I quickly found that I needed a little more information on the supplies used:
    (1) Did you use 42″ or 54″ tomato cages?
    (2) What diameter was the PVC pipe — 1/2″?
    Thank you!

    • Toni - Design Dazzle says:
      June 29, 2016

      Glad to help! Fun game to play as a group. Make sure the ground is soft enough to tamp down the cages into.

      • Paulette says:
        July 1, 2016

        Toni, your answers don’t answer any of my questions, so I still need your help…..
        (1) Did you use 42″ or 54″ tomato cages? Home Depot carries both.
        (2) What diameter was the PVC pipe used–1/2″?

        • Toni - Design Dazzle says:
          July 3, 2016

          Hi Paulette,
          There is some kind of glitch with my comments. The comment you received was meant for someone else. Sorry about that.
          I made this game 3 years ago and gave it away last year. So I can’t go and measure everything. I would get the taller tomato cages. It just makes it easier when you are playing. As far as the diameter of the pipe, I just don’t remember. The only negative with going to small in diameter is you need more of the pipes to cover the gap/hole. You need to make sure all the pipes are in place before pouring in the balls. I’m guessing but maybe 3/4 inch would be good (if they make that size??) or maybe it was 1/2 inch (that just seems small to me) Good luck.

          • Paulette says:
            July 5, 2016

            Thanks so much Toni! To make some progress, I bought the 1/2″ pvc piping and cut 21 rods and have sprayed painted half of them in different colors, so the other half will be painted today. Hopefully that will work and be plenty to fill the gap. I’ll go ahead and buy the 54″ tomato cages and see how that all works (major finger crossing). Thanks for the help and great idea!

    • Toni - Design Dazzle says:
      June 29, 2016

      So glad you liked it! Here is a link to lots of outdoor movie screens. The one I purchased is 144 inch in size

  15. Betty says:
    June 29, 2016

    Love this idea. For the balls in the game how many do you need to plan on purchasing to have enough?

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