Most kids get excited at the thought of a carnival because of the festive atmosphere and fun games. Recreate the magic allure of a carnival by putting together some cheap carnival games for your kids and their friends to enjoy at your next party. Small, simple prizes and yummy foods will round out a carnival-themed party.
Guessing games tend to be a staple at carnivals. Set up a variety of simple guessing games that work for the age group you’re entertaining. Ask the kids to guess the weight of a variety of different objects, such as stuffed animals, a notebook, a jar of jellybeans or any other random every day item.
Fill a jar with hard candies, small toys, trinkets or other items. Ask the kids to guess how many objects are in the jar. Pass them out at the end of the party as favors or award the entire jar to the child whose guess is closest to the actual number of objects.
Fill a small pool of water with a bunch of floating rubber ducks that have numbers or symbols drawn on the bottom of them. Let the children pick out a duck and get a prize based on the duck they choose. Small fish or frogs would work as well.
Arrange lollipops on a Styrofoam cone where the bottom part of the lollipop sticks are pushed inside of the foam so you can’t see them. Color at least one lollipop stick with a marker. Whoever chooses a lucky lollipop wins a prize.
Simple tossing games tend to delight young children. Fill small jars or fishbowls with water and let the kids toss ping pong balls to try to get the balls in the water. Use food coloring to tint the water if you want a colorful display.
Build a pyramid of plastic jars, jugs or bottles weighted down with a little bit of sand. The kids can try to knock the pyramid over with a softball or beanbags.
Tape small balloons to a large piece of plywood, and let the kids throw darts at the balloons to try to pop them. This game is inexpensive, but it isn’t safe for small children. Adult supervision is a must for this game, even for older children.
Put a plain sheet or cloth on a table or on top of cardboard on the ground. Spread out candy, small toys or other small treats on the tablecloth or sheet. Give the kids small rings to toss onto the sheet of treats. They get to keep any treats inside their ring.
Paint polka dots of varying sizes and colors on a plain sheet or cloth. Spread it out and let the kids toss coins, trying to get a coin on a polka dot. The dots can represent different prizes if you want to make it more challenging for older children.
Set up a target of stationary objects, such as a polka-dotted cloth or a piece of plywood with holes cut for a volunteer to stick his face in. Let the kids throw wet sponges to hit the target or the volunteer. Prizes might not be necessary for this game as the kids will simply enjoy hitting their target.
Set up a pyramid of cans or set ping pong balls on top of bottles. Give the kids squirt guns to try to knock the ping pong balls or cans down.
Find out who the next quarterback is by letting the kids try to throw a football through a tire swing, a hole cut into a piece of plywood or into a hula hoop set up across the yard.
Use your basketball hoop to see who can make the most baskets in a row. Set up baskets or boxes in a straight line, and see who can throw the smallest ball in the furthest basket. You can use basketballs, softballs, baseballs and ping pong or golf balls.
Play putting games by creating small holes through a piece of cardboard or plywood and seeing who can putt the ball through the smallest hole.
Simple carnival activities can complement the games if the children want a break, or if you want to offer a variety of activities. For example, set up a booth for face painting, temporary tattoos or finger painting for small children.
Fill a box with random items, such as food or toys, and ask your little guests to reach inside, feel and try to guess what the object is. If they guess right, give them a small prize.
Create a silly photo booth by painting a picture on a large cloth or piece of plywood or cardboard with holes cut out for faces. Your guests can put their faces through the holes for memorable photos.
- carnival game booth image by Janet Wall from Fotolia.com