In my never-ending search for ways to get my kids off electronics, I decided to build a backyard ga-ga ball pit for my son as a birthday present. If you haven't heard of ga-ga ball, you're missing out!
Ga-ga ball is a game played in a fenced in "pit" similar to dodgeball. I believe it originated in Israel or became mainstream their. My son learned to play at a summer camp many years ago and we play as a family at public parks that have permanent pits.
A ga-ga ball pit typically consists of a large octagon fence 15-20ft in diameter with a height of 24-36 inches. This Instructable will show you how to build a ga-ga ball pit for your backyard that is 32inches tall with a diameter of ~20 ft in diameter. My total cost came to just under $300 and was complete in about 2 hours with the help of my brother, my son (age 12) and my son's friend (age 13).
Step 1: Gather the Materials
It actually took me more time to load the lumber, pay for it and get it home than it did to actually build the pit. Below are the full materials and tools needed. I had the hardware store cut the 2x4s to length. The 2"x10"s are at stock lengths. My local hardware store had some 2"x10"s that were damaged by a forklift during unloading. I offered to buy the damaged lumber at 75% off and they agreed. That saved me about $20!
1.) 2" x 4" Pressure treated lumber at 32" lengths (qty: 16) (I bought four 2x4s at 12ft lengths cut to size)
2.) 2" x 10" Pressure treated lumber at 8ft lengths (Qty: 24)
3.) 3" Course thread wood screws (qty: 200)
4.) 1.5" Course thread wood screws (qty: 100)
5.) 3" Door or Gate Hinges (qty: 16) like this
1.) Hand drill
2.) phillips driver bits
3.) Circular saw if you choose to cut the 2x4s yourself
Step 2: Build a Wall #MAGA!...kidding
Build one side walls of the pit by laying down (3) of the 2x10s, squaring them up and laying two of the 32" 2x4's over top at the ends. Set 8 or 9 of the 3" screws in to hold them all together at each end. Each side should have 16-18 screws. Make sure the 2x10s are evenly spaced and flush with the ends of the 2x4s.
Step 3: Build Seven More Sides
Once you have one of the sides built, build 7 more on top to ensure that all wall are square and identical. I had the kids take over for this part. This is probably the first project where my son and his friend helped more then they hindered, making this a huge milestone. I remember when my son was about 4 and always wanted to "help out" with my projects. Looks like that training is starting to pay off!
Step 4: Prepare the Pit Zone!
I have a section of my yard that's too shady to grow decent grass. I chose this area for the pit so it was easy to shave down with my lawn mower set to it's lowest height. Took about 10 minutes to shave it down, pick the rocks out of my shins and rake the area clean.
Step 5: Connect the Side Walls
Using the 1.5" screws and door hinges connect the sidewalls and build the octagon. This is the step where lots of money can be saved. You can buy gaga ball pit braces on line for ~$400 but the $30 in door hinges work great! Shout-out to my co-worker Kevin McMaster for coming up with this idea!
Don't get hung up on making the walls all level and perfect. Let the walls follow the ground surface and it'll be fine. The wall junction on't have to be perfectly flush with each other. If it's +/- 0.5" it'll be fine, no one will notice or even care once the games begin!
Step 6: Have Fun!
Learn the rules if you don't know them and have fun! We've had about 14 people in our ga-ga ball pit playing at one time and there was plenty of room for more. This has been one of the most heavily used projects I've taken on so far and I'm hoping this pit gets many more years of solid use!
Drop me a message if you decide to build you're own ga-ga ball pit from this Instructable!
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