Looking for carnival games for a school festival? Here are some ideas for elementary-age kids:
- A cake walk: cut 20 shapes out of paper, number them and tape them to the floor in a large circle. The shapes can fit the carnival's theme, such as pumpkins for Halloween or hearts for Valentine's Day. Have each participant stand on a number. Play songs, such as "The Monster Mash" on Halloween or "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" on Valentine's Day. When the music stops, each participant stands on a numbered shape. The leader draws a number, and the participant standing on that number wins a cake, cupcake or cookie.
- Fishing for treats: Create a partition either using a large cardboard box or a portable wall. Decorate one side of the partition with an under-the-sea theme. Make fishing poles by attaching string to long wooden dowels and attaching clothespins to the ends of the string. One at a time, kids fish for treats by hoisting the clothespin end of the fishing line over the partition. A volunteer hiding on the other side attaches a candy to the clothespin, gives the line a little tug (indicating that a "fish" was caught) and the child pulls the line back over.
- For a Halloween carnival, set up a trick-or-treat village: ahead of time, have volunteers decorate large cardboard boxes to look like houses (haunted or otherwise). At the carnival, line the houses up so they look like a neighborhood and have one volunteer sit inside each house with a stash of candy. The children then trick-or-treat at the houses. This activity is great practice for very young children learning how to knock on a door, say trick-or-treat and use good manners by saying thank you before moving to the next house.
- Bean bag toss: Paint a picture on a large piece of plywood, then cut out holes. The picture can fit the carnival's theme, such as a pumpkin with holes for the eyes, nose and mouth for Halloween or an apple tree with holes where the apples should go for a harvest festival. Lean the plywood against a wall or attach supports to it and stand it upright. Hand each participant three bean bags and award them small candies for throwing the bags through the holes (or just trying).
- Bingo: set up one classroom to be a bingo hall. Make or buy bingo cards (compare prices). Ask a teacher or parent to be the bingo caller for the evening. Play several rounds of bingo, giving the winner of each round a candy bar or other prize.
Here are some more games from the About.com archives: