Tin Can Bowling

This is a great activity to do both inside and outside, and a great use of recycled materials to get children moving their bodies. Additionally, bowling is a fantastic way to naturally integrate math into your everyday play as we will count how many cans we were able to knock down!

Set up Time: 20 minutes


Gather together recycled tin cans, about 6 -10 cans. Take off the paper, and double check that there are no sharp edges. Invite children to paint the cans with acrylic paint. The cans in the picture were painted by an adult but always remember that you can turn the painting activity into a slow process–for example you can leave the cans at the art table for the entire week and children can paint them many times over and add lots of layers of paint. There is no reason to rush this or make it look perfect!

Once the paint is dry, take your cans and a ball outside and set them up for bowling. You can either set them up in a triangle, or stack them to make a tower. In fact, we encourage you to try it both ways, or invite children to come up with different arrangements. Then go bowling!


  • Recycled tin cans
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Ball

Learning Through Play

Physical: Gross Motor – Bowling is great because it involves a lot of physical planning, as children will aim and roll the ball. This might be harder than you think! They are using multiple bodily skills to achieve this as they see their target, position their bodies, determine how they will use their tool (a ball) to knock down their target, and then they set this into motion with their bodies! This is a great use of their coordination!

Social-Emotional: Take Turns – Playing games like bowling is a wonderful way to teach children about taking turns. It is important to give children many opportunities to take turns throughout early childhood since this is a place for them to practice with their peers who are also learning this skill. When children are older and in larger classes, it will be important that they have had plenty of opportunities to practice this skill when they were younger.

School Readiness: Counting – As mentioned above, this is a great activity to practice counting! How many cans can you knock over? How many are remaining? How does it change if you arrange the cans in a different formation? For example, is it easier to knock them all down at once when they are in a triangular formation or a long line?

See this activity in the Rayz Kidz app along with the other fun activities. Rayz Kidz is your trusted source for play-based activities featuring over 100 themes and 500+ hands-on activities and clear descriptions of the beautiful learning that is happening through play.