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How-To: Make a Big-As-Life Board Game

CRAFT Summer Camp

By Diane Gilleland
Why gather around a table to play board games when you can play them all over the house? Scrounge up a few inexpensive materials, enlist the help of some favorite kids, and you’ll be playing this giant game in no time. Because the whole thing is modular, you can change the board and the rules anytime you like.


For Game Board Squares:
Approximately 40-50 low-pile carpet samples I’m using 13.5″ x 18″ pieces here
About 1 yard solid woven fabric, such as muslin or a thrift-store sheet
Letter stencils
Spray paint or acrylic paint that contrasts with the fabric
Duct tape, two colors
Craft knife and self-healing cutting board
Non-slip shelf liner optional
For Dice:
One square cardboard box per player
Large sheet of paper to wrap the dice
21 punched paper circles, about 1 1/2″ in diameter
Transparent tape

For Game Cards:
About ten 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheets of paper
Downloadable template
optional; download below
Five 14″ x 22″ sheets of colored poster board
Glue stick

Download PDF Download the game cards template PDF
Right click to save the PDF to your desktop. Directions on downloading PDFs.

Big Game 2
Note: Carpet squares make a safe and flexible game board layout. You can often get them from carpet retailers, who discard old samples periodically. You might also try your local home improvement store for inexpensive carpet or tile squares. 30-40 squares should be enough to lay out a game board with assorted twists and turns in about a 650 square-foot area.


Big Game 3
Step 1: Some of your game squares will need messages on them, like “Lose a Turn,” “Move Ahead 3,” “Draw a Card,” etc. (I usually add messages to about 15% of the squares I use in a game.) I like to cut rectangles of woven fabric and stick them to the carpet squares with duct tape – fabric is very flexible to step on, and when burnished, duct tape sticks nicely to low-pile carpet.
Big Game 2-1

Step 2:
I used some adhesive vinyl lettering with very strong adhesive to make the messages. You could also place a prepared stencil over the fabric and spray with contrasting paint, or even write the messages on the fabric with a permanent marker.
Note: If you prefer, you might also be able to stencil or screen print messages right on the carpet. Be sure to do a test on an extra piece of carpet first.
Big Game 5
Step 3: To make oversize dice, assemble two cube-shaped boxes and tape them shut. Wrap them like presents with solid paper, taping along all exposed edges and folds in the paper.
Big Game 6
Step 4: Glue punched dots to each surface. On a standard die, the two opposite surfaces always add up to seven. The “One” face and the “Six” face should be opposite. The “Two” and “Five” faces are also opposite, and the “Three” and “Four” faces are as well. Allow the glue to dry before playing.
Big Game 7
Step 5: To make game cards, either print out two sets from the downloadable template or make up ten cards of your own. You can print from your computer to 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper, or write them by hand, or stencil them. Then cut a 11″ x 14″ piece of poster board for each game card. Attach the printed paper to the poster board with glue stick or spray adhesive.
Big Game 8
Step 6: If you want to make colorful “Start” and “Finish” squares, you can (again) stencil them, or try this duct tape technique: begin by placing three strips of duct tape on a self-healing cutting board, overlapping the strips slightly.
Big Game 9
Step 7: Then, print your desired letters out from a computer and tape these over the duct tape. Carefully cut out each letter with a craft knife.
Big Game 10
Step 8: Then, carefully peel away the excess duct tape before you peel up the letters. Place these onto the game squares and burnish them well.
Big Game 11
Lots of Ways to Play
If you’re playing with children 6 and younger, you may want to keep things simple, and make the object of the game reaching the “Finish” space first. This variation is a good exercise in counting. You can add interest by making spaces and cards that interrupt that flow, sending players a few spaces ahead or back, or causing them to lose a turn.
If you’re playing with children 7 and up, then you can add more challenge. You might, for example, try creating some branches in the game path that lead to specific objects (and these can be random household things like shoes or stuffed toys, for example). A player has to collect a specific number of objects before proceeding to the “Finish” space in order to win. In this game, you can add cards like “Drop what you’re holding here” to interrupt the flow and add challenge.
Big Game 12
You might also look to your favorite board games and see if you can replicate them with these oversized components. Older children might have fun creating their own game cards and spaces, or coming up with rules to make the game more interesting.
If you want to start from scratch and design your own game, you might find this article on game design and this one useful.
Big Game 13
Playing the Game:
1. Lay out the game squares in an interesting, turning path through one room or several. If you’re laying them out on a smooth floor, then you might want to place a piece of non-slip shelf liner under each one for safety.
2. Place the squares with messages in the game path at intervals. Lay a pile of cards next to each “Draw a Card” space.
3. Give each player a large die.
4. Take turns beginning on the “Start” space. Roll the die on the floor and move forward on the squares accordingly.
5. Have fun!
About the Author:
Diane Gilleland produces CraftyPod, a blog and bi-weekly podcast about making stuff. Her first book, Kanzashi In Bloom is currently out in bookstores.

11 thoughts on “How-To: Make a Big-As-Life Board Game

  1. says:

    This is fantastic! I want to do this, though I better finish my oversized jenga game first.

  2. shekhar says:

    very nice blog

  3. Rebecca says:

    I am in grad school for elementary ed and need to make a lifesize periodic table of elements. I am planning on making a board game out of it and have the students role a large dice, and aswer a science question before going to the next space. I need 118 squares for the periodic table and they also need to be yellow because the theme for the game is wizzard of oz, so I’m making the periodic table into the yellow brick road. I’m trying to find a way it. I was thinking about vinyl floor tiles but they are expensive and heavy. then i was thinking to take a foam posterboard and cut it into 6 tiles. it would not be as heavy and i could use 10″ x10″ instead of square feet. do you have any suggestions for me? appreciate it

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  10. High School Programming: Life-sized Board Games | LBPSB Library Resources says:

    […] Teen Services Underground: Live Clue! at the Library Pinterest Board:  DIY Games Live Action Board Games How-To: Make a Big-As-Life Board Game […]

  11. How To Build Games | KundgameKundgame says:

    […] How-To: Make a Big-As-Life Board Game – Why gather around a table to play board games when you can play them all over the house? Scrounge up a few inexpensive materials, enlist the help of some favorite kids, and you’ll be playing this giant game in no time. Because the whole thing is modular … […]

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