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35 Minute to
Win It Games

Carnival Games

Fun Carnival Games for for kids

20 Fun and easy games for a Carnival to play during your next Carnival themed birthday party. 

These Carnival games and ideas are easy to set up and inexpensive to put together and most use recycled materials. 

  Carnival Games

All of the games listed have been tested and at birthday parties and are the kids favorite games.

Great for Fall Festivals and Circus parties too ages  3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 years old!


See our Carnival Theme Birthday Party Ideas for more fun ideas

Carnival Games

Moonwalk or Bounce House
A great way to entertain children of all ages at a carnival. 

Face painting
Set up a station under a tent for face painting.  You will need a face paints, paper towels, paint brushes, cosmetic sponges, face glitter, small table, a few chairs and several hand held mirrors.  Make sure to designate a space for the line to form.  For extra fun have the face painter dress up as a clown or character. 

Balloon Animals

Create balloon animals for the party guests to take home. 

Mystery Fishing Carnival Game
Kids fish for prizes in this fun game!  For the "water" use a very large furniture or appliance box, hang a sheet across a doorway, or cover a table so that the "fish" (and the person in the water) are hidden from view. Tie a string to a stick and attach a clothespin on the end of the string.  Birthday party guests take turns "casting" the line into the "water". The person in the "water" puts small gifts, favors or candy on the clothespin and then tugs the string to signal that there is a "fish" on the line.  Then kids pull up the line and retrieve their prize.  This is a simple but fantastic birthday party game that kids adore!  Have lots of prizes because kids will want to do this carnival game again and again. 
    Cup Switcheroo
For this carnival game you will need a table, three cups and a ping pong ball for this fun carnival game.  Have the booth operator set out the three cups face down and show the player that they are putting the ping pong ball under one of them. 

Then shuffle the cups around without lifting them from the table.  Ask the player to guess which cup the ball is under. 

Kids love trying to figure out which one the ball is under!  Give prizes for correct guesses. 

Can Pyramid Carnival Game -  
Can Pyramid
Use empty cans (paint them bright colors) and stack them in a pyramid shape on a table. Have guests throw bean bags at the pyramid and try to knock them over.  Either 6 or 10 cans will work and you may want to make a few extra to speed up the re-set process.

We Spray painted plastic milk containers silver and used it as our pyramid toss. 
Ring Toss
Fill 2 liter bottles with water and set them in a triangle shape about 4 feet from where the children will be throwing the rings.  Make a triangle from 6, 10 or 15 bottles.  Buy rings from Oriental Trading or recycle old butter tub lids by cutting rings from them.

  Ring toss carnival game -
We made this ring toss game by recycling water bottles.  We hot glued them down to a large box top and then decorated around them.  The white tops were worth 1 point and the blue tops were worth 3 points. 

Duck Pond Grab
Carnival guests pick rubber ducks out of a wading pool - they win a prize according to the number on the bottom of the duck. Write the numbers 1 - 5 (repeat numbers according to how many ducks you have) on the bottom of the ducks and place in the pool full of a few inches of water. In back of the pool on a table have 5 baskets with different prizes and number the baskets 1 through 5.
  Duck Pond Grab Game

Carnival guests pick up a duck to see what number is on the bottom then win the prize that corresponds to the number of the prize basket. If the carnival guest picks up a duck with the number 4 on the bottom, they get a prize form the number 4 basket. It’s a simple game, but children love it! The more ducks the better in the pool … give them away for party favors after the carnival. On these ducks (see picture) we simply put a "W" on the bottom of some of the ducks for "winner" - then the child got to pick a prize. 

*If you want your duck pond inside use foam peanuts or rice in place of water.

Ping Pong Toss game -
  Ping Pong Ball Toss
Set out fish bowls or use large plastic cups for this fun game.  If you use large plastic cups hot glue them onto a large piece of thick cardboard.  Line the bowls or cups up side by side so there are no gaps between the containers. 

Give players 3 ping pong balls and tell them to try and get the balls into the cups.  This is harder then it looks because the ping pong balls bounce around!  You can also choose several random cups and color them a different color and if a ball lands in the special cups the player gets a bigger prize.  Tip:  Make sure and contain this game with at least 3 walls as the balls tend to bounce everywhere. 

For this Ping Pong ball game we used large and small cups - the larger cups were double points since there were fewer of them. 

Bulls eye

Buy or make a large circular target with different point values (like a dart board).   Use small circles of Velcro with adhesive on the back and attach them to ping pong balls.  Kids throw the ping pong balls at the target for tickets.

Lucky Lollipops Carnival Game
Buy a very large Styrofoam cone from the craft store and paint it a bright color. Take lots of lollipops and color the end of about ¼ of them using a permanent marker. Stick the lollipops into the cone - make sure the mark can not be seen. The children choose a lollipop and keep it - if they choose a lollipop that has a mark on the end they get to keep that lollipop and choose a prize, or they can have another turn.
Super Tic Tac Toe
Create a super Tick Tac Toe board (at least 4' x 4' ... if you have the room make it as large as possible!) with butcher paper or a large sheet and duct tape for the lines ... or if you have a large flat area of concrete you can put the duct tape down directly on the ground.  Buy or you can make several beanbags and give each player 3.  Tell them to make a tic tac toe (either 3 beanbags in a row across, down or diagonal) to win a prize. 

We made this Tic Tac Toe board from red butcher paper and it is 4.5 feet x 4.5 feet. 
  Super  Tic Tac Toe Game - Carnival game

Circle Toss Game -   Circle toss
Create a large playing board with a sheet or butcher paper (at least 4' x 4').  Cut out paper circles about 3" in diameter)  and glue them on the playing board - space them at least an inch or more apart in a random design.  Lay the board on the ground and about 4' from the board make a line where the players will stand behind to play.  Give each player 5 - 10 pennies (or recycle water bottle lids) and ask them to try and get their markers to land completely in the circle - they can't hang over the circle onto the playing board. 
Tip: If you don't have time to make a board for the circle toss game lay out a large mat from the game of Twister and have players throw pennies onto the mat. 

Players move across a racetrack to win a prize.  This game can be played 2 ways but both require a large racetrack.  Make the racetrack by laminating large sheets of butcher paper about 15 feet long and 8 feet wide.   
  Racetrack carnival game for kids
Divide the track into 6 long lanes with at least 10 spaces in each lane.  Color or put down 6 different colors or construction paper into the lanes - one color per lane. 
Carnival players pick a color and stand in their lane.

1.  Play this carnival game by giving each player a large dice that is made in their color.  We use 12" square cardboard boxes decorated like dice.  The 1st player becomes the playing piece and rolls his/ her dice. They then move ahead the number of spaces shown on their dice.  Then the next players goes and on down the line until someone gets across the finish line.  Make it more difficult by requiring players to get the exact roll to make it across the finish line. 
2.  Instead of making a large dice for each player use one large dice and have the announcer roll the dice.
Tip:  If you don't have the space for this fun game make a smaller version and let the players use plastic horses or cars as the playing pieces.

Bozo Style Bucket Toss

Line up 6 buckets in a straight line about 8" apart.  Players stand in front of the buckets about 4' away at the starting line and try and throw ping pong balls into the buckets starting at the closest and progressing to the furthest away.  Give prizes away depending on how many buckets they can complete.  To make the game easier for smaller children use bean bags. 

Ducky War
Fill a large rectangle container with water and place a floating plastic duck in the center.  Two players line up at opposite ends of the container and use squirt guns to try and make the duck touch the other players side of the container (or set up a line 6 - 8" from the sides that the duck has to cross).  Provide large tubs of water at each side for the players to re-load their water guns. 

Guess How Many
Fill a large clear plastic jar with colorful candies,  M & M's, jellybeans, rings, carnival mardi gras type necklaces etc. and ask carnival guests to guess how many items the jar contains.  Set out slips of colorful paper and pencils for them so they can write down their name and guess.  Provide a decorated container to hold their guesses.  At the end of the carnival announce the winner and let them take home the contents of the jar.  Tip:  Count the items while filling the jar - write down the number! :) 

Color Me Wild
Use colored hairspray and glitter hair spray to color streaks or give all over color to carnival guests.  You'll need a table, chairs, drop cloths, sheets or garbage bags to put over the guests clothes and hand held mirrors.
Jail Roundup
A fun carnival game that kids really enjoy!  Decorate an area or a several large appliance boxes as a jail and have volunteers dress as western sheriffs or police officers.  

  Jail Roundup game - fun carnival game for birthday parties
Guests pay the sheriff a ticket to put someone they name in jail for 3 minutes.  Give the sheriff a whistle and handcuffs to go and arrest the person the player has named.  The person is then brought back and placed inside the jail.  They can either wait the 3 minutes or pay a ticket to get out right away. 

This is the "Jail" we made from large appliance boxes before it was decorated around the bottom with hay bales and pumpkins.  All the kids wanted to be "arrested"!  The sheriffs had a table to the left where they kept track of everyone's time. 

Lucky Treasure Key

You'll need a large treasure chest or trunk and a new lock.  When you buy the lock for the treasure chest you'll need to buy several extra locks that have keys that look the same, but do not open the lock.  Place a prize in the treasure chest and lock it.  Place the keys in a decorated container and then ask players to choose 3 keys.  Players try and find the key that will open the lock and unlock the prize.   

Party games just for girls - Girls birthday party games


Party games for boys only - Boys birthday party games


Party Games for all ages - Birthday Party Games



    We've listed our favorite kids birthday party ideas, tips, cool party themes, b day party celebration ideas and advice for kids birthday parties sent in by parents with years of experience - we refer to them as the experts!  Fun birthday party, party planning and ideas that really work for boys and girls, kids, tweens and teenage parties. Kids games, Real simple and cheap birthday party ideas for kids for home parties. © Kelula 2007 - 2016