Games of chance and skill are mixed together at a carnival. It’s so enjoyable, many organizations and groups use carnivals as a fundraising event. It can also be used to get new people interacting within your organization or group. If you’re thinking of doing so, you need an idea of what you might want to do and how to pull it all together.
1. Committee and more.
If you’re doing a carnival for more than just a few kids, a committee will help you in planning, obtaining permits, asking for donations, finding volunteers, determining the theme and more. If you need help with this, see the “Event Planning” badge set from the Enrichment Project.
2. Determine area.
The games you have will be dependent on the area available. If you are confined indoors, you may not want to do games that are messy or need a large area. If you are outdoors, you may want to avoid games with light parts that can blow away. Not enough room? Ask the venue if you can expand to hallways, empty rooms and other areas. Find one or more locations where you can run a carnival.
3. The rules.
Review the rules / requirements of the venue where you will be running the games. Is anything not allowed? Will they provide chairs, tables and other items you need or are those your responsibility? Do they have enough power outlets? Do you have to pay extra for clean-up? Make sure you understand all the requirements of the venue or work with your venue if you have special needs.
4. Determine players.
The age and ability of your players will also help define the games you want to have available for them to play. What ages / abilities do you need to cover? Are they likely to bring parents, family members or friends?
5. Find volunteers.
You may have a huge area, but if you don’t have enough volunteers, you’ll have to limit your activities. When you’ve determined the area you have and the amount of possible games, determine an approximate amount of volunteers. Be sure you offer everyone the chance to play as well, splitting time slots for running a game into at least two. Be sure to have enough volunteers to set-up and clean-up as well.
NOTE: You do not have to stick to adults for staffing games. Teenagers and other kids often have more fun running the games than playing them.
6. Money handlers.
If you are doing carnival games as a fundraiser, you need to limit the number of people handling money. Set up one or two locations only and staff them with people you trust to exchange money for tickets. Everyone else should use tickets only.
7. Choose games.
With the information in the previous steps, choose games your players might like. Choose a few more than you have room for so if one or two don’t work out, you have something to replace it.
For some game ideas, check out the Enrichment Project supplement listed after the badge steps.
8. How to get games.
Determine if the games you’ll play are something you’ll want to do again and if you have storage for them between carnivals. If money is no object, purchase the games. You can add one or two items every year until you have a large selection. If you don’t have the money and you do have the creativity, make them yourself or ask others to help you. Easy things to make include bean bags and reusable signs. Search the Web for ideas and designs in addition to checking out the other AEP supplements.
You may find that you’d rather rent games and return them when you’re done so you don’t have to worry about storage. Check out local rent centers first to save on shipping.
Lastly, don’t stick to the traditional way of doing things if you can think of a better way. Make adjustments to a popular game or feel free to create your own. There are some suggestions for doing this in the AEP supplements.
9. The supply closet.
Your organization may have games from previous years. Plan enough time (a month or two) to look at the items to determine if they are usable. You may need to fix them, replace lost parts, etc. For example, I ended up making a slew of bean bags because we had a lot of “toss” boards at our elementary school but there were no bean bags.
10. Reinvent what you have.
Check with your school, organization and adults. They may have items they can lend or donate for your carnival. This might include hard plastic pools, kid-sized basketball hoops, balls, etc. Adjust your games to include the items you have available to save money.
11. Be creative.
Make your own games. Reimagine everyday games as carnival games. Adapt the method of play to a carnival setting.
You may choose to have prizes at each your games. Alternatively, you can also give points out and let them come to a centralized area to purchase prizes from their points. Determine which of these ideas work for you or do a combination of them.
Interested in finding out what games are the most popular? Provide each game with a labeled container to place the tickets they collect. Let everyone know not to reuse tickets after they are collected. After the event, count the tickets. This will allow you to adjust the games you provide at the next carnival.
14. Non-game activities.
Some people are not into games. You may want to provide additional activities for them. The variety is more likely to keep everyone entertained and at your event longer. You may want to do something that takes longer to play like BINGO for people who are not as mobile and need to sit. You can also have non-carnival games and toys for younger kids who don’t have skills to play the games you have. Food is always an option. Check out the activities supplement for more ideas and some tips.
The Enrichment Project supplements contain a lot of helpful information for carnival games. These include:
- Diagrams — how to set up some of the games listed
- Games — list of games and basic rules to get you started
- Printables — items you can print and use at your own carnival
- Signs — signs you can use
- Tips — tips and hints from someone who has “done that”
16. Share what you learn.
Share your experiences or help others with their carnival.
Sites to Explore
To download a PDF of this badge program, click here: EP_Carnival Games