Most schools and churches have Fall Festivals or Fairs once school gets underway. In order for Festivals to be successful the School or Church must plan what activities, games, food, and entertainment to have. For most schools, the Fall Festival can be one of the biggest fundraisers of the year for the PTA or other group putting it on.
Try a combination of activities, carnival games, bigger activities like inflatables, sumo wresting or a Velcro wall, concessions, a silent auction, a bake sale, and school spirit sale.
This article will give you ideas for carnival games that can be played inside or out are perfect for a school or fund-raising festival.
Many simple, basic festival games have been included in this list but we wanted to get schools and community groups thinking creatively with their festival ideas and games. Let kids explore, create, design, touch and imagine during your Fall Festival. It is all about the experience. Easy games are great but they can quickly lose kids’ interest so mix it up a bit and add a few new and fun activities each year.
A quick note: A silent auction is often a good idea if you are trying to raise money. Usually your organization or school asks local businesses to donate items to use for a silent auction. For example, our local Play and Bounce Play, Kangaroo Jacs gives away a Free Birthday Party Package our school can auction off. And a local fire station gives away 1 birthday party at the station. You can also ask businesses to sponsor a booth, activity or game. For example, see if Home Depot will sponsor a Planting Station or Building Station, providing the materials for free and instructions.
Most Festivals charge a certain number of tickets to play each game, or do a specific activity. Allow families to purchase packets of tickets ahead of time or buy them at the Festival.
Here are several Oldies but Goodies Festival Games you can set up:
Putt Putt- either a single short hole or several holes for the children to play. It is easy to have a volunteer build a basic putt putt hole or you could buy or assemble one with materials.
Tic Tac Toe Toss – create a wooden tic-tac-toe box and toss bean bags to try and get 3 in a row.
Spinner Wheel- create a big wheel with spokes and paint on pie shapes- each slot will have a different word on it for prizes or extra tickets, or a try again.
Penny or Ball Toss- a similar to the game at Amusement Parks- put together a group of glass containers (ex. Wine carafes) and fill them with water (add a drop of blue food coloring for fun) and allow the child to try toss 3 pennies or ping pong balls into any of the glass containers.
Boat Races (boats, water and squirt guns)- get a large tub or children’s water play table, fill it with water, 2 boats and get 1 small squirt guns- set the boats of and let the kids squirt to the finish.
Relay Races- Set up an area of the school ground with wooden stakes and the plastic ribbon to make lanes. Decide on a race, such as, Spoon Race (carry an egg), or potato sacks, or 2 legged race.
Obstacle Course- create a fun and silly obstacle course outside or in the gym. Or create 2 obstacle course lanes so 2 people can race each other.
Scary Hairy- Kids get temporary hair color sprayed on their hair or vote with tickets for their teacher to get his/her sprayed.
Temporary Tattoos- let kids get a temporary tattoo or painted on tattoo- just make sure they are appropriate themes.
Face Painting- let the kids pick from a handful of designs. Have 2-3 face painters for the busiest part of the day.
Petting Zoo or Animal Rodeo – an area where kids can pet and feed small farm animals. Make sure the school allows for animals. There should also be an area to clean up (hand sanitizer, etc..) after touching the animals.
Fall Planting Station – have plastic cups with soil in them and let kids pick seeds to plant in their cup (ex. Pumpkins, gourds, winter plant).
Some Newer School Festival or Carnival Ideas
The Giving Tree- create a large tree out of heavy duty cardboard or wood. Have a table and chair set up with a sitting area for kids and a copy of The Giving Tree Book . Read the book to kids that come to listen and let kids and parents write on the giving tree something they have been given (or write their names on apples to stick on the tree). Either have them give a ticket to do so or donate money to the Giving Tree- give the money to a charity or put what school project or supply the money will go to- ex. Music instruments.
Airplane Competitions (make an airplane and compete for furthest distance. You could have both a kids’ and parents’ competition.)
Make and Take Fossils (you could have different activities or crafts sponsored by different teachers)- for example this activity could be run by the Science teachers. It is easy to make fossil prints for kids. This mix can be made ahead of time if it is in a sealed container. Bring in leaves, sticks, shells, fossils for the kids to make an impression of.
Cupcake Decorating Station- get plain cupcakes or cookies and lots of tubes of colored icing and sprinkles. Or try the food markers in different colors (they are for writing on food). Let the kids get creative with their food.
Giant Bubble Station- make a bubble solution and large bubble wands out of string and straws. Let kids take a turn make giant bubbles.
Get Crafty Recycled Art Table- for the month or two before the festival ask parents and teachers to save certain plastic containers and boxes. Set up a station with art supplies (colored tapes, paint, markers, glue, fasteners and recycled boxes and containers). Show a couple of examples of projects the kids could make. Such as a Milk Carton Boat or the idea below”:
Make a Milk Carton Bird House – you can make a simple, easy bird house out of a milk carton. An easy project to do that kids could take with them.
“Make a Self Portrait” Art Station- have paper, makers, paint or colored pencils at an art station. Allow kids to make a self portrait. Have a mirror on hand and instructions and an example. Or let kids try and draw their teachers. Here are directions for a self-portrait painting and back to school portraits by Art Teacher Kathy Barbro
Bake Sale- have a bake sale and sell the items to kids and parents.
Book Swap or Book sale (donate books and buy a book for 25 or 50 cents)- encourage reading and get kids excited about finding a new book. Try a book swap where you bring in books and get to take a book or do a Book sale and have your local community donate books (gently used or new) and kids can book a book for $.25 or $.50.
Clothing Swap- Have families bring clothes that do not fit or have not been worn to the shoe festival and set it up like a store. Allow families to come in and take a few clothing/shoe items they might need.