DIY Arcade Game

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Updated on Sep 13, 2012

Is your child an arcade game enthusiast? Make road trips a breeze by showing her how to make her own take-anywhere pinball game! The adjustable laptop board created in this activity allows for hundreds of ways for a coin or ball to be coaxed from start to finish. It's not all fun and games, though! Your child will actually improve her hand-eye coordination as she manipulates the coin through the playing field.

What You Need:

  • 8½” by 11” piece of heavy cardboard
  • Sheet of white paper (optional)
  • Wax paper (optional)
  • Pen or pencil
  • Scissors
  • Half dollar coin (or a bottle cap of a similar size)
  • Coins, buttons or small balls (as playing pieces)
  • Bobby pins

What You Do:


  1. Have your child pick three locations for the holes in your board (these spots are where she'll try to guide the coins to).
  2. Trace around a fifty cent piece (or large bottle cap) in the locations she has chosen.
  3. Cut out the holes using scissors or an exacto knife.
  4. Have your child slide bobby pins onto the outside edges of the board and the edges formed by the cut holes. Encourage her to arrange the bobby pins in such a way that creates a challenging maze for the coin playing pieces.
  5. Write “Start” and “Finish” on the board at opposite ends of the cardboard.

Playing the Game:

  1. This game is played in the style of electronic pinball! Have your child place her coin at “Start.”
  2. She can slant and jiggle the board to move her coin through the maze to the spot mark "Finish." If she lets it fall through a hole, she'll have to start over!
  3. Once your child begins to understand how the bobby pins affect the progress of the coin, she can change the configuration as often as desired.

A note about difficulty: As your child gains confidence, she can make the board more slippery by covering it with a smoother surface. This can be achieved by gluing a sheet of white paper to it, or simply rubbing the entire board with wax paper in advance. Intermediate players may also cut smaller holes into the playing board, or use smaller instruments as playing pieces in place of coins.

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