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How to Put Together A Life-Size Candy Land Game – Part 1


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candyland_game
Recently I put together a life-sized Candy Land game for our Easter event. I am going to be honest, this was not an easy project, but once it was finished it was great. The kids loved it, the parents loved it, and we’ll have it for years to come. In this 3 part series I’ll discuss how we did this and alternatives we considered that could save you time and money.

Before starting this project you need to answer the following 7 questions (along with what I decided to do):

  1. What do you want to use for the colored spaces that the kids will walk on? (We used interlocking mats.)
  2. Will this be a one time use or will you use this life-size Candy Land game for years? (We wanted to make it durable enough to last for many years.)
  3. What surface will the game be on; grass, concrete, dirt, indoors? (We placed our game on a basketball court.)
  4. How do you want to represent the characters; wood, paper, real-life? (We went with wood. Although, having real live people dressed up like the Candy Land characters would be really neat.)
  5. Do you want to use a die or cards for the game? (We went with a huge die.)
  6. How much are we willing to invest in this project? (Our version came in at about $900. You can do it for less and I’ll discuss how.)
  7. Are you willing to invest the time into this? (Overall I’d say we spent a total of 110 hours divided by 5 people, or 22 hours each.)

So you read over the questions, considered the commitment and decided to go ahead with it. Great! Let’s get started.

PART 1 – The Game Board

When we were trying to figure out how to set up the spaces of the game board we went through a number of ideas, we asked other organizations how they designed their Candy Land set-ups and we researched other ideas.

We wanted the game spaces to last a long time but they needed to be light because we new we’d be carrying them to and from storage every year. We also needed to have them 6 or 7 different colors based on the game itself. Another consideration was the time it would take to create 70-120 spaces. We knew we would be cutting and painting characters and felt we didn’t want to spend the extra time cutting and painting spaces as well.  Below were the options we considered:

Plywood Squares – These fit the durability test, but they needed to be cut, sanded, and painted. Plywood can also be very heavy.

Paper Squares – For a one time use, indoors we might have considered this option. We needed long lasting so this was not the right fit for us. This is probably the least expensive route, however. Purchase card stock and it should last you one event, indoors.

Laminated Paper Squares – This would be more durable, but not good enough. It definitely wouldn’t have worked outside and inside the slickness of the lamination would make it slippery. we don’t want anybody falling.

Poster Board – I like the size of these and we would have been able to order them in the right colors, but they would not have been durable enough for years of use. However, due to the cost, especially if we would have recycled the poster board for future crafts, this is a good option. You would just need to buy new poster board each year.

6 Large Canvas Tarps (with the spaces painted on them) – This is one I seriously considered. Once it was painted we would just unroll it and play. It would have taken 6 canvas tarps (at least the ones I liked) to cover the basketball court. It would have taken a fair amount of paint, but paint we had.

Poly Spots or Poly Base Markers – Here was our second choice. We found 14″ Poly Base Markers that would have worked very well. The 6 pack came in the 6 colors of the game as well. They are durable and there is no prep work (cutting, painting, etc.) needed.

Interlocking Foam Tiles/Mats – We have used the poly spots and the foam mats in other programs so we knew they would both hold up to the abuse of a special event. The reason we went with the foam mats is because they interlock and they are bigger than the poly spots. We didn’t want the spots moving around. The mats also came in the six colors we needed. I purchased the 1/2″ 24×24 premium interlocking mats at WeSellMats.com. They came quick and in perfect condition at a price I couldn’t find anywhere else. I purchased 15 sets (90 tiles).  Over the long haul I’m certain this will prove to be the most frugal option, especially if we use the mats for other programs.

Note: In Candy Land there is a seventh color, pink, which are the spaces the “treats” are on. We decided that we didn’t need pink and placed pictures of the “treats” on one of the regular colors.

Next I found the different treats that are in Candy Land like the gingerbread man, a candy cane, an ice cream cone, etc.  I printed each one out and laminated them. At the event I duct taped them to one of the mats. I had the treats in the same order and general location as the board game.

The Game

Now that we have a board it’s time to give you the rules of the game. It is very simple. I learned a few things I should have done after the first event and the rules below include them.

  1. The participant starts behind the “Starting Line”. No more than 2 children can go together. If you are using small squares you might want to limit it to one child or one child and one parent.
  2. The facilitator rolls the die. Whichever color comes up the child will move to that color space.
  3. On the next roll of the die any child already on the game board, as well as the child at the “Starting Line” will move to the color that comes up. For example, If the facilitator rolls the die and it comes up blue everyone moves to the next blue space from where they are standing. There will multiple children on the game board at any given time.
  4. You’ll need one adult at each “treat” space. When a child passes a “treat” space they get a candy. If they happen to land on the “treat’ space they get a premium candy. For example, the candy cane might be taped to a red space (if you’re not using the traditional pink spaces). If the die is rolled and red comes up and the red space that happens to have the candy cane on it is the next space a player (child) goes to, the player receives a premium candy. You can give out small candy canes for the children that pass the “treat” spot and a normal sized candy cane for those that land on the “treat” space.
  5. The child will also get a candy for completing the game.

Note: I tried to get candy that represented the “treats” in the game. I was unable to find candies that fit perfectly. I quickly found out that nobody cared what kind of candy they got. They were just excite to get something. However, they were thrilled to get a bigger candy for landing on the “treat” spaces.

Now I realize we live during a time of childhood obesity and there is a push for nutritious snacks and food to be given to our children. I’m not about to give a child a carrot in a game called Candy Land. The community I work in is very organic food friendly. Having said that I did not have even one parent complain about us giving a bunch of candy to their kids. I guess its because on special occasions like Easter and Halloween parents are more tolerant of sugar highs.

How to Put Together A Life-Size Candy Land Game – Part 2

How to Put Together A Life-Size Candy Land Game – Part 3

12 Comments

  1. Thank You!!!

  2. My pleasure.

  3. This is a great idea – thank you for posting the “How to…”. One question – in the Rules of the Game #3, is there a reason for everyone on the board to move each throw of the die instead of each player/team moving independently on their turn?

  4. Hi Jeff, if you had one player only move during each throw it would take forever for the kids to get through the game. It’s all about getting them through keeping it going, which keeps it interesting for the kids.

  5. Thank you for your marvelous tips! I have ordered lifesize candy (made of colored, glitter foam)and such, but was stuck on the color board for the kids to move along. Your interlocking mats sound like just the thing! We are producing this lifesize game for our annual Spring Hullabaloo this April 23rd, 2010. An autism acceptance event. Sould be great fun for everyone! We are going to dress up the college students helping with the game. I love all of your ideas. I look forward to part 2. Treva

  6. where is part 2…i am a party planner and i am doin a candyland party,i love these ideas thank u so much..

  7. Thanks for the nice comments Jamie and Treva. Here are the links to the other 2 parts
    How to Put Together a Life-Sized Candy Land Game – Part 2
    How to Put Together a Life-Sized Candy Land Game – Part 3

  8. Thank you for this!!! I own this project for our Grade Level school carnival and had no idea where or how to start. You have made my day and in the end will make our Carney booth the hit.
    Thank you for taking the time to build and the effort to post and share.

  9. You’re welcome, Tina. Good luck with your carnival.

  10. My pleasure, Tina. Thank you for leaving such a nice comment. Good luck on your event.

  11. Great idea, Im really doing this, but without the mats. Im making a railing made from steal, wire mesh and concrete, then painted and sealed. Im having a tough time finding the plastic things I want to make the lollipops light up at night… Its challenging to create objects.. i like your paper idea, but i need the real deal to sell this chocolate and candy company that Im reviving. So we need some quailty life size candyland ideas to bring cusotmers.

  12. Wow, good luck with that. It seems you’re doing a more permanent set-up. Send pictures when you’re done with it. I’d love to see them.

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