11 Ideas for School Carnivals

Are you tired of the same ol’ ho-hum school carnival? Looking for ideas to spice it up and offer something new and different? Look no further. Here are 11 ideas that will help you start thinking outside of the (popcorn) box!

Customize banners to promote your school carnival throughout your school.

Give Your School Carnival a Theme

This is one way to get kids more excited about the school carnival. Choose a theme, encourage everyone to dress for the theme, and coordinate your prizes and treats to your theme. Need some ideas to get you started? Here are a few (but the possibilities are endless): Under the Sea, Superhero, Old West, or Haunted House. (Imagine a gym full of monsters playing Halloween-inspired games, or everyone dressed in western apparel dancing a good ol’ fashioned hoedown).

Recruit Local Talent

Invite a local celebrity, such as an athlete, TV personality, or politician to make an appearance at your school carnival. Depending on who they are, they could perform, talk, pose for photo ops and give autographs.

Sundae Bar

Build-your-own sundaes, with a table full of topping options. Decorate the booth with Ice Cream themed items.

Fortune Teller Booth

Have a teacher or staff member dress up and give silly fortunes, homework predictions, grade guesses, etc.

Cupcake Booth

Have participants, students, and parents alike, decorate their own cupcakes

Staff Auction

Teachers and staff volunteer to be auctioned off for their services; tutoring, janitorial, cooking, etc.

Set ups props to create unique carnival photo ops!

Photo Booth

This is a traditional favorite at any school carnival that you can have lots of fun decorating and stocking up on fun photo props. First, you need is a backdrop (background paper, corrugated, gossamer, etc). Then, you can use both handheld props and life-size props or kits that everyone can interact with for their photo ops!

Sponge Lunge

Instead of an expensive and messy dunk booth, have teachers and staff take turns being a target for soaking wet sponges. A few tarps is all you need to protect your space and the kids have just as much fun (if not more). Kids pay a buck for two throws at the teacher. Trust us, its fun!

Kissing Booth

Don’t worry, this isn’t what you think it is. It’s extra fun if the booth is hidden, in a room, behind a door or curtain. For one ticket or one dollar, they can get a KISS! Give them a Hershey Kiss and a lip sticker or stamp on the cheek. It’s a ton of fun, super inexpensive, and always a big hit! You’ll soon see all the kids running around with lips on their cheeks.

Create a game corner for board games, jumbo checkers, cake walks, and more.

Game Corner

Ask for donations of used but good quality family board games, card games and puzzles. Or check local thrift stores and discount stores for inexpensive games. Do a game walk (like a cake walk), game auction, or jumbo checkers. Kids and families get really excited to get a new (used) game. BONUS: A game “corner” encourages more family time and less video game time.

Use a Carnival Throw to cover tables for your carnival pie eating contest!

Pie Eating Contest

This old fashioned game for a school carnival never loses its punch. Everyone loves watching and participating in a pie eating contest. Fill donated pie tins with whipped topping and pudding. No crust needed. Or have staff and parents donate the pies.

For more carnival ideas checkout out the Ultimate Carnival Planning Guide

Elementary School Ultimate Carnival Guide (pdf)