How to Make a Mini Bowling Alley in Your Hallway


If necessity is the mother of invention, sometimes you have to be creative when you wind up with a houseful of energetic, playful kids. One way to keep the youngsters busy is to make a mini bowling alley in your hallway. Perfect for a rainy day, a snow day from school or a large birthday party with plenty of eager bowlers, a mini bowling alley in your hallway can attract and entertain kids of all ages -- and that’s before the lights go out for a truly cosmic experience.

Things You'll Need

  • 10 plastic soda bottles, 2-liter, or shampoo bottles
  • Sand or aquarium gravel (optional)
  • Ball
  • Painter's tape
  • Glow sticks (optional)
  • Determine the proper trajectory for your mini bowling alley. For example, if your long hallway extends from the front door to your kitchen, set up the bowling pins near the front door so that it will be easier to remove fallen pins and reset them after the second roll. Set up the approach and a waiting area in the kitchen or near the alley area.

  • Set up 10 bowling "pins," using empty, 2-liter soda bottles. Alternatively, make pins from tall shampoo bottles. Fill the bottles with sand or aquarium gravel to add weight and stability. Choose a ball that is strong enough knock down the pins.

  • Establish the rules for your mini bowling alley and make age-appropriate modifications, if necessary. For example, young players may lack the attention span to play a full 10 frames and keep score for two rolls per frame. For smaller children, label each pin with a different number and add the number of the pins that are knocked over. Alternatively, streamline the game by making a knocked-over "7" or "10" pin the objective of the game.

  • Leave room for about a four-step approach and mark a foul line, using painter’s tape. Put small pieces of tape on the floor to mark the triangular placement of each of the 10 pins. This ensures the pins are in the same place each time.

  • Remove breakable items -- mirrors, lamps and pictures -- from your hallway before the competition begins. Announce the rules of the game, including that the ball must be rolled down the hallway and not thrown overhand.

  • Make provisions for “cosmic” or glow-in-the-dark bowling, if desired. Insert glow sticks into the “pins” and line your hallway with glow sticks taped to the floor before turning off the lights for a new wave of competition.

Tips & Warnings

  • A soft, rubber ball will minimize damage to your walls.
  • You may not choose to enforce fouls, depending on the age of your bowlers.
  • Make and hang a sign at your front door for your mini bowling alley. For example, if your child is the guest of honor, he might get a kick out of a sign that reads, “Alan’s Alley."

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  • Photo Credit Ryan McVay/Lifesize/Getty Images
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