Using an old pizza box, empty toilet paper rolls, felt, and a little imagination you can create a great new game for practicing counting and colors! Inspired by the classic game, Hi-Ho Cherry-O, make counting fun by seeing who can pick all the fruit off their tree and get it into their baskets first!
Materials You’ll Need
- Empty Pizza Box
- Two (2) Toilet Paper Rolls
- Felt (green, brown)
- Aluminum Foil
- Hole Punch
- Knife (Parental Assistance) – not pictured
- Fourty (40) Small Pom-poms or Fruit Pieces – not pictured
Step 1: Prepare Game Board
As this is a recycling project, make sure to clean out the inside of your pizza box as much as possible and line the inside with aluminum foil to cover any remaining grease stains. If you do not wish to use a pizza box, a clothing store or similar flat box should work. When ready, allow your child to help choose a base color and paint the box that will be acting as their game board. Set aside the finished, painted box to dry.
We choose a nice light blue acrylic paint to represent the sky for our background.
Step 2: Paint Baskets
While you wait for the box to finish drying, you can start to work on turning your two (2) empty toilet paper rolls into the baskets for each player. Cut each toilet paper roll in half so that you have a total of four (4) even cylinders. Then choosing four (4) different colors, paint each toilet paper roll basket a separate color. Make sure you get full coverage, inside and out.
We choose purple, yellow, red, and green acrylic paint for our baskets to represent each player in the game.
Step 3: Create Trees
You will need to create four (4) trees for each player’s basket around the game board. If you are using felt, cut out four (4) brown tree trunks and four (4) bushes of leaves. Creating the trees from felt will help add dimension to your game board, as well as help the fruit pieces to stay in place. We actually ended up using two different shades of green to add a little variety.
If you do not have felt, you can also draw or paint them onto the box in each corner of the game board. For drawing or painting on the trees, make sure to read ahead to Step 4 for tips on positioning.
Step 4: Attach Tree Trunks & Cut Basket Holes
This step will need parental assistance, as the best way I found to cut the holes to fit your baskets is by using a knife. Start by arranging your cut-out, felt tree trunks on each corner of the game board. Make sure you are rotating them with the board correctly so the trees and baskets will face each player accordingly and glue them down.
Using a pencil, trace around each toilet paper roll basket, and with parental assistance cut out holes on the game board that the baskets will slide into easily. Set aside the circular pieces of cardboard you cut away from the box for finishing off your baskets in a later step.
Step 5: Finish & Attach Leaves
This step may also need parental assistance depending on the age of the child you are doing this project with. Each player will need 10 pieces of fruit on his or her tree to play the game. Using a pair of scissors, fold your felt bush of leaves, cut out a semi-circle, and repeat this 10 times anywhere they fit. These don’t have to be exact or in any real pattern as each tree grows differently.
When finished, glue the leaves above each tree trunk already on your game board.
Step 6: Gather Your Fruit Pieces
As mentioned in Step 5, it is recommended that each player has 10 pieces of fruit on his or her tree in order to play the game. We ended up opening a bag a pre-bought pom-poms, and were able to find 10 small pom-poms in four different colors for each tree.
If you do not have pom-poms handy, use your own alternatives. For example, you can roll pieces of colored construction paper or aluminum foil and paint them to represent your fruit for the time being.
Step 7: Atttach Basket Bottoms
Remember, when you cut out circles from the game board for the baskets and set them aside for later use? Here is where they come into play. Since landing on certain spaces on the spinner can result in losing some of the fruit in your basket and placing them back on your tree, it is important each basket has a bottom to catch everything in for easy removal. Use glue or tape to attach the circular pieces of cardboard to one end of each basket. Then, place the finished baskets back into their designated spots to complete your game board.
Step 8: Create Your Spinner
Last but not least, to take turns in this game you will need a spinner. Creating a spinner is very easy, and can be done using a square piece of cardboard, construction paper, markers, and tape. Our own spinner for the Fruit Count Board Game we made is pictured here. Set up your spinner similar to ours or design your own. It is recommended to include at least 1 to 4 chances to pick fruit, 1 empty or spilled basket, and 1 to 3 chances to lose X amount of fruit.
When landing on the bird (lose 1), dog (lose 2), or empty basket, take the designated amount of fruit from your basket and place them back on your tree.
How To Play
When all is dry, you are ready to test out your finished board game. The game itself is very simple, and can be played with 2 to 4 players.
Youngest player always starts first, and players proceed clockwise around the game board.
During a player’s turn, spin the spinner and play whatever instruction the arrow points to.
First person to pick all the fruit off of their tree and collect them into their basket wins!
Feel free to further decorate your game board any way you like. We had some foam letter stickers we used to spell out the board game name one of my littles affectionately picked out for our finished masterpiece.
For easy storage and safe keeping, collect all of the fruit pieces into a ziplock bag and place inside the box with the spinner.
Have you created your own Fruit Count Board Game using this guide? Send us a picture and we’ll share it on our Facebook page!