Tumbling Elves

Easy to make, totally engaging, and when you're all finished with your fun, you can put them back in the recycling bin!
Clean cans - preferably the soup can size, but a variety is fine
Printed pictures of elves
Tape or glue stick or hot glue (adult supervision please)
Duct or masking tape (optional)
Small balls, Frisbees, slingshots, pea shooters, sock balls (whatever you want to shoot or throw at your cans)
Table (optional)
Paper and pen to keep score

1. Cans can have sharp edges, so take your clean, open cans and cover the inside lip with masking or duct tape to ensure safety.
2. Print out clip art of silly elves, or draw your own!
3. Wrap the elf pictures around your cans and secure with tape or glue.
4. Make as many as you like!
5. Gather balls or other throwing implements. (Sock balls work great!)

How to Play

1. Line up or stack your elf cans in whatever configuration you like: pyramids (3 on the bottom, 2 on top of that, 1 on top of that), walls (9 cans - 3 cans stacked on top of each other in 3 rows), singles (lined up with distance between each one). You can do this on the floor or on a table. Just make sure you are doing this in an open area where nothing can get broken. Stay away from windows or crowded areas; an empty garage stall or empty hallway is perfect.
2. Set a throwing line about 10 feet back from the elves.
3. Throw, roll, or fling your throwing implement at the elves. See how many you can get down in one throw.
4. Reset your cans and play as many rounds as you like. You can keep score if you like: 1 point for each can moved, 2 points for each one actually knocked down. Bonus points for knocking all the cans down at once.
5. When you are all done, recycle your cans.


1. Line cans up like bowling pins and bowl for elves.
2. Set up a soccer net and place one elf in the center. Try and knock that one elf down by kicking the soccer ball.
3. As long as there are no sharp edges, little ones can stack cans like blocks.


1. Taping the mouth of the can to cover sharp edges will ensure safety.
2. Make sure cans are clean and dry before using.
3. If you don't have paper just leave the cans plain. It's still fun!

Activity Length
Indefinite (as long as you want!)
All Ages
Either/or (can be played either way)
Easy peasy (fun and simple)
Mess Factor
Dustpan, please
Noise Level
Number of Players
3 to 4
5 to 10
10 to 20
Prep Time
10 - 20 minutes
Space Needed
Medium (a clearable open space the size of a 2-car garage)
Team Division
Every man for himself (individual players)