Free Carnival Game Ideas-Carnival Starter Kit

Table Of Contents:


A.) Planning Guide

    1.) Budgeting

    2.) Creating a Timeline

    3.) Choosing a Theme

        a.) Sports 

        b.) Princess

        c.) Circus

        d.) World Travel

    4.) Building a Team

    5.) Prize Approach

        a.) Instant Prize approach

        b.) Prize Booth Redemption approach

    6.) Choosing Games

    7.) Choosing Prizes

B.) Game Ideas

    1.) Balloon Stomp

    2.) Balloon Pop

    3.) Racetrack

    4.) Nose Pickin' 

    5.) Collapsing Pyramid 

    6.) Dinko

    7.) Toy Walk 

    8.) Ring Around the Poster

    9.) Knock the Can

   10.) Ping Pong Ball Toss

   11.) Elephant Tusk Ring Toss

   12.) Inflatable Toss

   13.) Lucky Duck

   14.) Frog Pad

   15.) Football Throw

   16.) Treasure Dig

   17.) Hoop 'em 

C.) Check List


The creativity is endless when it comes to transforming your party into a festival or carnival with great games and prizes. By giving away prizes the excitement is magnified, the games become much more exciting and the carnival feel is complete! We have compiled a list of games to get your imagination flowing; variations for each game allow for the theme to fit your particular party. The end result is loads of fun but creating the games and decorating can be a great joy in itself.



A. Steps to Planning a Fun and Successful Carnival


1.) Budget your expenses

a. Estimate the number of people you expect to come

b. Estimate the number of games you will need to have

c. Prepare a list of games you plan to have and estimate the cost of each

Cost of materials + (cost of prize for the game X number of prizes you expect to give out) = Cost 


2.) Create a Timeline

It is absolutely necessary to gauge your time; if not you will wind up with one week to go until your carnival party and completely overwhelmed. If the carnival is a last minute idea scan the games for the easiest and quickest options. If you have a sufficient amount of time you can choose the more difficult game ideas. Estimate the amount of time necessary to buy the supplies, to decorate the game, to let it dry if you paint it, and to test the game out. Allowing extra time will help to ensure a successful carnival! 


3.) Choose your Party Theme

The party theme can simply be a Carnival theme that allows for the biggest variety of games, prizes, and decorations, but incorporating specific themes can be fun as well. Most of the games can be easily adapted to any of these themes. Below are easy ideas that can quickly transform your party to fit a particular theme.  


   a. Sports

        1.) Decorate white balloons with black markers to look like soccer balls, and red markers to look like baseballs. Brown balloons can be decorated to look like footballs, yellow balloons can be decorated as tennis balls, and orange can be decorated to look like basketballs. 

        2.) Construction paper used to wrap cans or decorate backgrounds can be a local teams colors and children's last names can be written on the construction paper with a number in the center to resemble a jersey. 

        3.) Plywood pieces can be covered in sports wrapping paper. 

        4.) In the Toy Walk the music that plays can be a popular team's Fight Song. 


   b. Princess

        1.) Decorate all plywood pieces with Princess wrapping paper.

        2.) Use pink construction paper to decorate cans and bottles. 

        3.) Use princess tiaras as rings in the ring toss games. 

        4.) In the football and basketball toss games decorate the background as a castle instead of a goal post. 

        5.) In the Toy Walk you can play Princess themed songs from the kids’ favorite Princess movies.


   c. Circus

        1.) Instead of using cars in the Racetrack game you can use a variety of plush animals such as tigers or monkeys. 

        2.) Balloon animals and face painting booths can be incorporated into your carnival. 

        3.) Plywood can be decorated using wrapping paper covered in clowns and balloons. 

        4.) Football Toss can be transformed by making the background a clown's mouth that you toss brightly colored knobby balls into. 

        5.) In the Toy Walk play Circus March or other fast tempo music. 


   d. World Travel 

        1.) Decorate the pieces of plywood used in the games like flags from other countries.

        2.) In the racetrack game decorate each square with a different flag design, so it is like each child is traveling as he or she moves their piece. 

        3.) Instead of making signs for each booth that just say the name of the game, decorate a sign that says a country and give each child a piece of paper to check off after     

             they visit each country. 

        4.) In the Toy Walk alternate popular music from other countries.


4.) Build your team


When planning a festival or carnival one of the first things that needs to be ensured is that you have a team. It is not enough to have a few individuals overseeing the carnival as a whole; every game and booth requires at least one person to ensure it runs smoothly. As a result, if you plan on having lots of booths and games at your carnival you need to be sure you have enough people to make it possible. First determine who you can depend on and then create a list of the different booths and games you plan to have.  


5.) Determine Carnival Prize Approach 

One important thing that needs to be decided early on is whether you will use an Instant Prize setup, a Redemption prize setup, or a combination of both. This decision will play a large role in determining the types of game you will have and what types of prizes you will order. 


Instant prize: Win a prize each time you play.

     This setup is usually the easier approach of the two. The player will attempt to win prizes from each game booth. For instance, if you decide to have the Football Toss at your carnival then the player may win the inflatable football they used in the game or there may be other prizes sitting at that booth that they may win. 


Prize redemption booth: Win tickets in each game you play to redeem prizes.

    This type of setup takes more work, but it allows for fewer but bigger prizes for each player. Each game gives away a select number of tickets and at the end of the carnival they are counted and redeemed for a prize worth that many tickets.  


To ensure that players all get fair chances it is usually best to give each child Play Tickets; each game booth can be the same number of tickets to play or it can vary depending on the prizes to be won from each game. This way you can ensure that each child is given the same opportunity to win. 


Most people choose to incorporate a combination of both approaches when planning their carnival party and prize giveaway.


6.) Choose your games


Game Type

Tickets Needed

Instant Prize or Redemption Tickets

Game booth Volunteer































































7.) Decide on Prizes



Prize Name


Unit Cost

Total Cost






























































                                                                                                             Total Cost:


B.  Game Ideas


Balloon Stomp:

Supplies: For the Balloon Stomp you will need balloons* and prize tickets.


*The number of balloons you will need will in large part depend on the number of children you expect to attend. For every 5 children aim to have 10 balloons with 2 of those balloons having a prize ticket inside. 


Directions: Begin by placing prize tickets in approximately 1/5 of your deflated balloons. Inflate the prize ticket balloons in addition to empty balloons. Spread the balloons out around a room. Allow each player to stomp their choice of 2 balloons in the room; if one of the balloons they stomp has a prize ticket in it they win! 


Balloon Prices: $9 - $20/Bag



Balloon Pop:

Supplies: One piece of plywood, paint or wrapping paper, approximately 40 balloons, plastic darts and tape or nails.


Directions: Begin with a piece of plywood decorated in any way you please-- an easy way to decorate plywood is to glue or staple wrapping paper down. Blow up about 40 small dart balloons, and nail or tape them sporadically around the board attaching them by the top deflating tip of the balloon. Give each player 3 Plastic darts and have them aim for the balloons. If they pop a balloon they win! 


Plastic Darts Price: $7.00/Dozen



Balloon Prices: $9 - $20/Bag





Race Track:

Supplies: 1 piece of plywood, construction paper, paint or markers, a ruler, 6 cars and 1 die. 


Directions: You can create your own race track, and it is pretty easy! Begin with a piece of plywood. You can paint it whatever color you choose, or you can use wrapping paper or large construction paper and glue it down. Divide the track into six lanes, and then divide the lanes into 10 spaces. Number the lanes 1-6 and allow each player to place their car at the start. Roll the die and the number it lands on indicates which player moves. If a 6 is rolled then player 6 moves his or her car 1 spot. Keep going until one player reaches home! 


8" Friction Cars Price: $11.70/Dozen




Nose Pickin':

Supplies: 1 piece of plywood, milk or juice jug, paint, large bucket, slime, small prizes, newspaper strips and flour. 


Directions: The nose pick game is one that kids find terrifically gross! Use a piece of plywood or a large piece of construction paper taped to cardboard and decorate it with a face. Use a large juice or milk jug and cut it long ways then use it to paper mache a nose on top. Cut 2 holes through the nose and plywood for the nostrils. Behind the nostrils place a large bucket filled either with slime or Jello. Place in the slime or Jello small toys and let the children reach into the nose to pull out a prize. Any type of gooey prize is great to place in the 'nose'. 


Collapsing Pyramid:

Supplies: 10 empty soft drink cans, construction paper and 1 soft ball.


Directions: Begin by covering each of the soft drink cans in colorful construction paper. Remove the tab on the top. Stack the cans in a pyramid starting with a row of 4 then place a row of 3 on top of the bottom row then move up with a row of 2 and then finally place 1 can at the top. Measure back 10 feet from the table and place a piece of duct tape. Allow each player one turn to through the ball at the pyramid from the duct taped spot, and if they cause the pyramid to collapse they win. 





Supplies: 3 hockey pucks, a large piece of plywood, 31 nails and a marker. 


Note: The below directions are based on using a hockey puck 3 inches in diameter so if you use one that differs more than an inch, cut the measurements down by 1 inch. 


Directions: Start your first row 4 inches from the top. Measure 4 inches in from the side and place your first black dot; measure 4 inches to the right again and make your second black dot. Continue this 2 more times so that your first row has 4 dots in 4 inch intervals. Next move down 4 inches to begin your second row. This time you will begin only two inches in from the left and make 5 dots, each 4 inches apart. If it is done correctly the 5 dots should be perfectly centered in conjunction with the line above. Continue alternating between 4 and 5 dots for a total of 7 rows. After you have measured this out you will use your black dots as your guide and hammer a total of 31 nails into these dots. You will want to make sure at least 1 and 1/2 inches of the nail is still sticking out. Continue to do this for 7 lines alternating between 4 dots and 5 dots.  Your spacing will need to be adjusted depending on what you choose as your puck. Divide the bottom into 5 slots and label each slot 1-5.  The children will drop their piece in the top and the piece will make its way to the bottom and fall into 1 of the 5 slots. Whichever slot it lands in indicates either the type of prize won or the number of prize tickets won. For instance, if a player's puck lands in the 5 spot he or she will receive 5 prize tickets, or a prize in the '5' bucket.


Toy Walk:

Supplies: Chalk


Directions: For the Toy walk begin by drawing a circle with chalk on a large flat surface: the circle should be approximately 5 feet in diameter - approximately 15.71 feet in circumference. Each participant will begin on a number of their choice. The operator will begin music and the players will move clockwise from number to number. The operator will end the music and then draw a number from the hat, box, etc. The number drawn will indicate a specific spot and whichever player is on that spot will be the winner. The winner will then get to choose a prize out of a large basket of prizes. 


Variations: This can be done with sweet treats and the winner can pick a treat or toys. 


Ring Around The Poster:

Supplies: Rolled up posters, 1 large garbage can, construction paper and rings. 


Directions: For the Poster Toss you will have to have a large group of posters rolled up and held with a rubber band. You can play all of the posters standing up in a garbage can or bucket. You can decorate the container with construction paper, or just place cloth around it. The players will each get a ring, and attempt to toss the ring over a poster. If they toss the ring around the poster then they get the poster! This is easy because instead of dealing with prize tickets the child just get the prize directly. 


Knock the Can:

Supplies: Approximately 20 clean canned food containers, construction paper, tape and 2 water guns or 2 knobby balls. 


Directions: This carnival game can be easily created with things in your home. Prepare ahead of time and save canned food containers. Clean the containers really well then cover them in construction paper or wrapping paper. Begin by forming a row of 5 cans on top of a table then continue stacking taking 1 away each time until the very top where you place 1 can. Each player receives a water gun or ball then aims and attempts to knock over the cans. You can base prizes on the number of cans knocked over, or only give away prizes when all cans are knocked over. The choice is yours

Variations: This game can use balls to throw at the cans or water guns to squirt the cans. 


6" Water Guns Price: $4.50/Dozen



5" Knobby Balls Price: $5.40/Dozen



Ping pong ball Toss:

 Supplies: Ping pong balls, construction paper, double-sided tape, and canisters or clean canned food containers.


Directions: The Ping pong ball toss is created much like the previous game. Save up multiple canned food containers then clean each thoroughly. Wrap the can in wrapping paper or construction paper. Use double-sided tape and tape the cans in 5 rows of 4 cans on a hard surface. Each player will get a designated amount of ping pong balls and attempt to toss the ping pong balls in the container.


Ping pong Balls Price: $15/Gross (Bag of 144) 



Elephant Tusk Ring Toss:

Supplies: One piece of plywood, a permanent marker, wire and a slinky or vacuum hose. 


Directions:  Begin with a large piece of plywood, and decorate the wood like an elephant face by drawing a large circle with a smaller circle on each side on the top to form the elephant’s face and ears. Add eyes, a mouth and a circle where the trunk will fit on the front of the face.  For the tusk use a cardboard tube or trace it to create an accurately sized circle. Use an old vacuum hose or a Slinky held upright with wire to form the elephant tusk. Each player will attempt to toss a ring around the elephant tusk. 



Inflatable Toss:

Supplies: At least 2 large clean garbage cans, inflated toys and large rings.


Directions: For the Inflatable Toss the players are actually aiming for specific prizes. You begin by inflating multiple inflatable characters and bats then fill up a large, clean garbage can with inflatable toys. The player will get 3 rings per turn and attempt to throw the ring around an inflatable toy. Whichever toy they toss the ring around they win. 



Lucky Duck:

Supplies: Plastic Duckies, a permanent marker and a tub of water. 


Directions: Begin by filling up a baby pool or something similar with water. You can use different variations of this game: 1.) number each plastic ducky with a number 1-5 and then number prize containers 1-5 and allow each child to get a prize based on the number Ducky they draw 2.) Put 'Winner' on the bottom of a few Plastic Duckies and have each player draw a Ducky- if they get a 'Winner' Ducky then they get a prize. 


Weighted Plastic Duck (Floats on Water) Price: $9/Dozen


Frog Pad:

Supplies: 1 large sheet of construction paper/ a large piece of plywood, scissors, green construction paper, glue, plush frogs and a bam hammer. 


Directions: Begin with a large sheet of paper or a large piece of plywood. Color approximately 10 green circles on the surface or cut out green construction paper circles and glue them down-- these circles are your Lilly pads and should be cut in 2 larger circles, 4 medium circles, and 4 smaller circles. Color the remainder of the surface blue to resemble water. In the smallest Lilly pads write a number 3; in the medium Lilly pads write a number 2; in the smallest Lilly pads write a number 1. 


Game Variations

 1. Create a launcher using a 6 inch X 10 inch piece of wood and on top of a small triangle piece of wood. Place the frog on the further end and allow each child to use the Bam Hammer and knock the frog onto the Lilly Pads; the player gets points based on the Lilly pad their frog lands on. 

2. For younger children they may simply stand on a line about a foot from the board and throw their frog on the Lilly pads.


10" Big Eyed Frogs Price: $18.00/Dozen



42" Bam Hammers Price: $12.60/Dozen



Football Throw:

Supplies: Two footballs, a piece of plywood and paint.


Directions: Begin by safely sawing a circle out of the center of the plywood - approximately 2 feet in diameter - approximately 6.28 feet in circumference. Decorate the target to look like a football player's chest so that the player may envision being a quarterback aiming for a teammate; paint it so the hole falls into the center of the player's chest. As an easier alternative you may choose to decorate the target to look like a field goal post instead by painting it so that the hole is in the center of the goal. 

Measure 7 feet back from the board and place a piece of tape to designate where the player stands when tossing the football. Each player attempts to throw a football through the hole in the middle. 


As an alternative to plywood you may choose to use an old tire. The tire can be hung with rope from a tree branch and it will create the same general idea.


This game can be played using Knobby footballs- they are easier for children to grasp and if they make the knobby football in then their 'lucky football' can be their prize. 


11" Knobby Footballs Price: $9.00/Dozen



Treasure Dig:

Supplies: A large bucket, sandbox, or other type of large container, sand and small prizes. 


Directions: Fill your container approximately 3/4 of the way up with sand. Bury small toys throughout the sand. Allow each player to dig through the sand and try to locate a prize. This game allows for smaller children to win prizes so they aren't left out of the fun!



Hoop 'em:

Supplies: Tire, rope and mini basketballs.


Directions: Use an old tire and rope and tie the tire up on a tree. Use Mini Basketballs and allow each player to attempt to throw their Mini Basketball through the tire. The Basketballs can be the prizes or separate prizes can be given to those who make the ball through the tire. Knobby Balls can be used instead of Mini Basketballs.


7" Mini Basketballs Price: $36.00/Dozen



5" Knobby Balls Price: $5.40/Dozen





C.) Check List




Not Completed

Date to Complete

Compile Guest List




Seek Volunteers




Choose Theme




Pick Games




Purchase Supplies




Make Games




Decorate Games




Decorate Booth Signs




Prize Approach Picked




Prizes Picked




Prizes Ordered




Tables Setup




Games Tested




Play Tickets Distributed





Click HERE to download in PDF Format.


Carnival Game Prizes

Choose A Category

Plush Stuffed Toys Plastic Toys Knobby Balls
Basketballs Carnival Inflates Keychains
Light-Up Toys Party Prize Kits  Game Supplies


Click HERE For School Carnival Fundraising Ideas

Click HERE For Church Carnival Fundraising Ideas

Our Special Offers