Awesome Carnival Game Ideas For Kid Birthday Parties

Looking for some really awesome carnival game ideas to use at your kid’s next birthday party?

Kid’s love the circus, so if you can’t bring your kid (and all his party guests) to the “Big Top” you can certainly bring some of those wonderfully fun circus games to your own back yard!

Click Here For Lots More Kid Party Game Ideas

Ring Around the Bottle

Style: Competitive

Type: Carnival Game Ideas

What You’ll Need:

  • 12 bottles (glass or plastic – fill them with water or sand so they don’t tip over).
  • 3 rings a little bigger than the neck of the bottles (these can be made out of cardboard, wooden craft rings, needlepoint rings, rings cut from coffee can lids or you can buy them at your local toy store).
  • A jump rope or piece of string.
  • A table.

How to play:

  1. Arrange the bottles side by side on a table (or on a flat piece of wood set on top of a couple of cement blocks covered with a colorful cloth or plastic tablecloth). All the bottles should be touching.
  2. Use string to mark a toe line (the place kids will stand to play the game).
  3. One at a time, have the kids take turns tossing the rings (three rings each) onto the bottlenecks.
  4. Any kid who gets a ring on a bottleneck wins.

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Sweet Ring Toss Carnival Game

It’s simple to turn this carnival birthday party game into a non-competitive game that’s perfect for your preschool guests.

Style: Competitive / Non-competitive

Type: Carnival Game Ideas

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 rings (these can be made out of cardboard, wooden craft rings, needlepoint rings, rings cut from coffee can lids or buy them at your local toy store).
  • An assortment of candy bars, small toys, and other trinkets.
  • A plastic/vinyl table cloth or a bed sheet.
  • A jump rope or piece of string.

How to play:

  1. Spread out the candy, toys, and trinkets on the tablecloth on the floor.
  2. Use string to mark a toe line (the place kids will stand to play the game).
  3. One at a time, have the kids stand at the toe line and take turns tossing the rings (give each kid three tries).
  4. You can make the game harder or easier by having the kids stand farther or closer to the game. Or by putting the items closer or farther apart.
  5. The game continues until each kid has had a turn.
  6. Any kid who tosses a ring over an item wins that item.

Variations:

  • Non-competitive option – give a small individually wrapped candy to any kid that didn’t win as a consolation prize just for playing the game.

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Feed the Lion Carnival Games Ideas

Here’s a carnival booth game that’s perfect for preschoolers.

Style: Non-competitive

Type: Carnival Games Ideas

What You’ll Need:

  • A cardboard box with a colorful lion’s face on it. The lions mouth should be a large hole.
  • A jump rope or piece of string.
  • Soft foam balls (balls of newspaper or tissue paper will also work fine).
  • Stool or a low table (optional).

How to play:

  1. Depending on the size of the box you use, you may need to stand the box on a stool or a low table. Position the box so that the lion’s open mouth faces out.
  2. Mark the play line with a piece of string a few feet from the lion.
  3. Ask each kid “Can you feed the lion?” Have the kids stand behind the play line and take turns throwing the balls into the lion’s mouth.
  4. After a few minutes, stop and see how much “food” is inside the lion.
  5. When the lion is “full”, stop the game.

Variations:

  • You can also make a lion’s face on a flat piece of cardboard and lean the lion on an angle against a wall or the back of a chair.
  • Use a large plastic container or basket and call the game Hoops or Basketball (this is easier for you since you don’t have to prepare the lion.

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Elephant Ring Toss Carnival Games Ideas

You’ll need to get out your craft supplies and muster up your artistic abilities (or recruit someone to help out) to prepare for these carnival birthday games. But the look on the kid’s faces will definitely be worth the time spent!

Style: Competitive

Type: Carnival Games Ideas

What You’ll Need:

  • A cardboard box with an elephant’s face painted on it.
  • An old vacuum hose.
  • A piece of thick metal wire
  • Duct tape (works well and it’s already gray!).
  • 3 rings a little bigger than the neck of the hose (these can be made out of cardboard, wooden craft rings, needlepoint rings, rings cut from coffee can lids or buy them at your local toy store).
  • Small prizes (or redeemable tickets that can be collected and used to claim bigger prizes!)

How to play:

  1. Paint an elephant’s face on a cardboard box. Attach the vacuum hose to the cardboard box where the elephant’s trunk should go. Cut a whole in the box (a little smaller than the hose) and push the appropriate length of hose through the hole. Leave any excess hose coiled up inside the box. Push a thick piece of metal wire into the ground to support the trunk. Use some duct tape to secure the wire to the vacuum hose.
  2. Depending on the size of the box you use, you may need to stand the box on a stool (or use a wood of wood laid across cinder blocks).
  3. Use string to mark a toe line (the place kids will stand to play the game).
  4. One at a time, have the kids stand at the toe line and take turns tossing the rings over the elephant’s trunk (give each kid three tries).
  5. The game continues until each kid has had a turn.
  6. Any kid who gets a ring on the elephant’s trunk wins a prize.

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Hungry Elephant

Here’s another “crafty” carnival game idea that requires a little artistic flair. But again well worth the effort!

Style: Competitive

Type: Carnival Games Ideas

What You’ll Need:

  • Heavy cardboard or foam board.
  • Grey craft foam or construction paper.
  • A stapler or glue.
  • Thick marker.
  • A jump rope or piece of string.
  • A bag of peanuts (in the shell)

How to play:

  1. Cut the elephant’s ears out of the foam board (piece for both ears). Make a cone from grey craft foam or construction paper and staple or glue it below the ears to form the elephant’s trunk. Draw the elephant’s eyes above the trunk with a thick marker.
  2. Use string to mark a toe line (the place kids will stand to play the game).
  3. Give each kid a handful of peanuts.
  4. One at a time, have the kids stand at the toe line and take turns throwing their peanuts into the elephant’s trunk.
  5. The game continues until each kid has had a turn.
  6. The kid who gets the most peanuts in the elephant’s trunk wins.

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Bucket Ball Toss Carnival Games Idea #1

Lots of great carnival games for kids require players to toss an “object” into some sort of “hole”. This is just one of many games that use balls and buckets.

Style: Competitive / Non-competitive

Type: Carnival Games Ideas

What You’ll Need:

  • 3-5 buckets or plastic pails.
  • 3 tennis balls.
  • A jump rope or piece of string.
  • An assortment of individually-wrapped candy, small toys, and other trinkets (non-competitive variation, see below)

How to play:

  1. Label each bucket with a point value (i.e.: 10 points, 20 points 30 points, etc.) Line them up with the labels facing forward.
  2. Use string to mark a toe line (the place kids will stand to play the game).
  3. One at a time, have the kids stand at the toe line and try to throw the tennis balls into the buckets (give each kid three tries).
  4. Add up the points for each ball that landed in a bucket.
  5. The game continues until each kid has had a turn.
  6. The kid with the highest point value is the winner.

Variations:

  • Non-competitive option – play without using points and give a small candy prize to any kid who gets a ball or two into a bucket (or just for playing the game).

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Bucket Ball Toss Carnival Games Idea #2

Here’s another ball and bucket backyard carnival game that best for older kids (the scoring system may be a little complex for younger kids.

Style: Competitive

Type: Carnival Games Ideas

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 buckets.
  • 3 different size balls.
  • A market to label the buckets and balls.
  • A jump rope or piece of string.

How to play:

  1. Label the buckets (one to three, one being the largest bucket).
  2. Label the balls (one to three, one being the smallest ball).
  3. Set up the buckets in a straight line one behind the other about a 6 inches between each bucket. Place the buckets in number order, with #1 being the closest.
  4. Use string to mark a toe line (the place kids will stand to play the game).
  5. Tell the kids that they get the highest points if they get the smallest ball in the farthest bucket.
  6. One at a time, have the kids stand at the toe line and try to throw the balls into the buckets (give each kid three tries).
  7. Add up the points for each ball that landed in a bucket. (i.e.: ball #3 in bucket #3 is 6 points, ball #2 in bucket #1 is three points).
  8. The game continues until each kid has had a turn.
  9. The kid with the most points is the winner.

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Walk the High Wire

You can really get their imaginations going with this carnival game. Have each kid try it with and without the pole (or the parasol) just to see the difference!

Style: Non-competitive

Type: Carnival Games Ideas

What You’ll Need:

  • Cement blocks
  • A long piece of wood (a 2×4 works well)
  • A long pole or parasol

How to play:

  1. Support the 2×4 a few inches off the ground with cement blocks. Make sure it’s level and secure.
  2. Have each kid “walk the high wire.”
  3. To make it more challenging for older kids suggest that they try it blindfolded!

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Guess the Weight

This carnival game is always amusing since most of us never really consider how much the things around us weigh. You’ll be surprised at some of the guesses.

Style: Competitive

Type: Carnival Games Ideas

What You’ll Need:

  • An assortment of different objects (i.e.: a big book, a brick, the birthday cake – no touching!, or any theme related objects).

How to play:

  1. Weigh each object ahead of time.
  2. Have each kid guess the weight of each item.
  3. Whoever guesses to closest to the objects real weight wins a prize.

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Mouse Holes Carnival Game Ideas

Sort of like a tabletop version of miniature golf, this carnival game can be trickier than it looks.

Style: Competitive

Type: Carnival Games Ideas

What You’ll Need:

  • A cardboard box.
  • 3 golf balls.
  • A jump rope or piece of string.

How to play:

  1. Cut three holes on one side of a cardboard box. Make each hole a different size for different skill levels (make sure that the smallest hole is big enough for a golf ball to pass through it). Label each hole with a value (the most difficult hole earns the most points). Unless you have a lot of golf balls on hand make sure to leave yourself an access hole in the side of the box so you can easily retrieve the balls from inside the box.
  2. Mark the starting line on the box.
  3. Have each kid roll the balls and try to get them into the holes.
  4. Continue the game until each kid has had a chance.
  5. The kid with the most points wins.

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Polka Dot Coin Toss

If you don’t have the time or supplies to paint the polka dots on for carnival games for kids make sure you take a look at the variations (faster and probably cheaper to set up, but just as fun).

Style: Competitive

Type: Carnival Games Ideas

What You’ll Need:

  • Large bed sheet.
  • Paint and a paint brush.
  • A jump rope or piece of string.

How to play:

  1. Take the bed sheet and paint polka dots on it. You can make them different sizes or colors and assign different point values for each. Or you can keep it really simple and just use one size and color.
  2. Cover a table with the sheet.
  3. Use string to mark a toe line (the place kids will stand to play the game).
  4. One at a time, let each kid throw three coins and try to have them land on a polka dot. They must get the coin completely inside the dot.
  5. Continue the game until each kid has had a chance to play.
  6. Any kid that gets a coin to land inside a dot wins.

Variations:

  • Instead of painting on the polka dots, use an assortment of plates arranged on a table (leave about an inch between each plate)

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Pin the Nose on the Clown

Yes, this carnival game idea is a variation of one of the great classic birthday party games “Pin the tail on the Donkey.”

Style: Non-competitive

Type: Carnival Games Ideas

What You’ll Need:

  • Large picture of a clown (without a nose if possible)
  • Heavy red paper to make noses
  • Pen, pencil or marker to write each kid’s name on each
  • Tape for each tail (double sided or tape loops – no pins needed!)
  • Blindfold (a scarf or bandana will do)

How to play:

  1. Hang the picture of the clown at an appropriate height.
  2. Blindfold the first kid.
  3. Slowly turn him around 1-3 times.
  4. Give him a nose with tape on the top end.
  5. Point him in the right direction.
  6. Then repeat with each kid.
  7. When all the kids have “pinned” their noses on the clown clap for all the funny places they landed.

Variations:

  • Pin the Tail on the Tiger, or Pin the Trunk on the Elephant.

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Lollipop Tree Carnival Game

All kids love lollipops! And they’ll love this simple yet intriguing carnival birthday party idea.

Style: Non-competitive

Type: Carnival Games Ideas

What You’ll Need:

  • Small lollipops
  • A large Styrofoam ball
  • Three different color markers
  • Small prizes (three different types of small toys or trinkets)
  • 3 paper bags

How to play:

  1. Cut a piece off the bottom of a large Styrofoam ball so that it sits flat on a table.
  2. Place a dot on the end of each lollipop stick and push them into the Styrofoam ball. Put prizes into three paper bags and mark each bag with one of the three colors.
  3. One at a time, have each kid pick one lollipop and collect a prize from the corresponding prize bag (i.e.: a lollipop with a red dot picks from the red bag, and so on).
  4. Continue the game until each kid has picked a lollipop and a prize.

Variations:

  • Mark the lollipop sticks with different colors that corresponding the colored prizes (i.e.: a lollipop with a red dot wins a toy, on so on.) This works great for a “Colors” theme party.

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Fishing for a Surprise

Kids love the anticipation of finding or “catching” things. That’s why fishing type games work really well as carnival games for kids.

Style: Non-competitive

Type: Carnival Games Ideas

What You’ll Need:

  • Small party favors or treats
  • Wrapping paper and ribbon
  • Stick, string and a paper clip to make a fake fishing pole
  • Plastic swimming pool (A large plastic basket or box will work, too.)

How to play:

  1. Wrap each treat and tie it with a ribbon with a bow. (Make sure the bows have big loops.)
  2. Make a fishing pole with the stick, string and the paper clip for a hook.
  3. Put the presents in the pool (no water!). Or to keep things really simple place the presents on the floor.
  4. Have each kid take a turn fishing for a present.
  5. Each kid gets to keep the present they catch.

Variations:

  • For very young kids you can cut fish shapes out of colorful cardboard and attach paper clips to each fish. Use a magnet for the hook on the fishing pole instead of a paper clip.

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Pick-a-Duck

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Browse the full range of Rubber Duckies/Duckys

What kid can resist a bright yellow “rubber duckie” That’s why this carnival birthday party idea is a surefire hit, especially with young kids.

Style: Non-competitive

Type: Carnival Games Ideas

What You’ll Need:

  • Small rubber duckies (one for each kid).
  • A permanent marker.
  • A kiddie pool or large tub of water.
  • A prize for each kid.

How to play:

  1. Using the permanent marker number each duck on the bottom (one for each kid). Prepare a small prize that and label it with a corresponding number.
  2. Float all the ducks in the kiddie pool.
  3. Have each kid pick a duck and they get the prize that corresponds with the number on the bottom of that duck.

Variations:

  • Number each duck 1, 2, 3, etc. Have three corresponding tubs of toys for kids to choose from. The toys can be wrapped or unwrapped.

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Dart Throw

Here’s a really fun carnival game idea that’s best suited for older kids (under adult supervision of course!)

Style: Competitive

Type: Carnival Games Ideas

What You’ll Need:

  • A smooth piece of wood or thick cardboard (don’t want the balloon popping too soon!)
  • Balloons (inflated) – small balloons make it harder, large balloons make it easier.
  • Pushpins or thumbtacks.
  • A jump rope or a piece of string.

How to play:

  1. Hang the wood (dart board) at an appropriate height for your group. Attach the balloons to the board (pushpins work better than thumbtacks because they’re easier to get hold of!). Make sure you have enough balloons ready to add as needed.
  2. Use string to mark a toe line (the place kids will stand to play the game).
  3. One at a time, give each kid three darts to throw at the balloons.
  4. Any kid that pops a balloon is a winner.

Variations:

  • Put small pieces of paper inside each balloon that have a prizes written on. You can also write “points” on each slip of paper which the kids can collect and redeem for prizes later on.

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Jell-O or Pie Eating Contest

Whether you choose Jell-o or whipped cream this carnival game idea makes some of the messiest “good clean fun.” Have your cameras ready!

Style: Competitive

Type: Carnival Games Ideas

What You’ll Need:

  • A bowl of Jell-O for each kid (it’s good to have a couple extra on hand).
  • Plastic sheeting (optional for a fast and easy clean-up).
  • Pie tins (see variations below).
  • Whipped cream in a can (see variations below).

How to play:

  1. Prepare one bowl of Jell-O for each kid.
  2. Put down the plastic sheeting if you choose to use it.
  3. Place the bowls in a straight line on the floor (on the plastic).
  4. Have each child kneel down and place their hands on the floor beside their bowl.
  5. On the word “Go!,” all the players begin eating their Jell-O hands-free. They are not allowed to use their hands at any time during the game.
  6. The first kid to lick his bowl clean is the winner.

Variations:

  • Pie eating contest – played the same as above, with pie tins filled with whipped cream instead of Jell-O.

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Super Soaker “knockdown”

“Super soaker” water guns have transformed these once wimpy backyard carnival games out of the dark ages! Make sure to adjust the toe line accordingly.

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Style: Competitive

Type: Carnival Games Ideas

What You’ll Need:

  • Empty soda cans (or plastic water bottles)
  • Water guns (super soaker water guns work best)
  • Bench (or a plank propped up on cement blocks works well)
  • A jump rope or piece of string.

How to play:

  1. Line up the cans (or plastic bottles) on a bench.
  2. Use string to mark a toe line (the place kids will stand to play the game).
  3. One at a time, give each kid the water gun and let him try to knock down as many cans he can in the allotted time.
  4. Continue the game until each kid has had a chance to play.
  5. The kid that “shoots down” the most cans win. If there is a tie have a playoff round and increase the distance from the can to the toe line.

Variations:

  • Make three different levels of cans, and award different points for each level. Make each additional level a little further away, but worth more points.

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Bean Bag “Knockdown”

This classic pyramid knockdown carnival birthday party idea is definitely worth putting on the list. You just can’t go wrong with a classic party game!

Style: Competitive

Type: Carnival Games Ideas

What You’ll Need:

  • 15 Empty soda cans (or stackable plastic bottles).
  • 3 Bean bags (easily made from old socks – no holes please – and dry beans or rice. Fill each sock, tie off, sew or hot glue the end shut) or balls.
  • A bench (or a plank propped up on cement blocks works well).
  • A jump rope or piece of string.

How to play:

  1. Line up the cans (or plastic bottles) on a bench in the form of a pyramid.
  2. Use string to mark a toe line (the place kids will stand to play the game).
  3. One at a time, let each kid throw bean bags (or balls) at them to see how many they can knockdown. Continue the game until each kid has had a chance to play.
  4. The kid that knocks down the most cans wins. If there is a tie have a playoff round and increase the distance from the cans to the toe line.

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Ping Pong Toss Game

Here’s one carnival birthday party idea that’s definitely harder than it looks. Ping Pong balls are made to bounce off of any hard surface. Just watch the surprise look on the kid’s faces when the ball hits the rim and bounces right out of the jar!

Style: Competitive

Type: Carnival Games Ideas

What You’ll Need:

  • At least 12 empty glass jars
  • 3 ping pong balls
  • A table
  • A jump rope or piece of string.

How to play:

  1. Arranged on the empty glass jars on a table (leave about an inch between each jar).
  2. Use string to mark a toe line (the place kids will stand to play the game).
  3. One at a time, give each kid three ping pong balls let her try to toss them into the jars.
  4. Continue the game until each kid has had a chance to play.
  5. The kid that gets the most balls in the jars wins. If there is a tie have a playoff round and increase the distance from the can to the toe line.

Variations:

  • Give the kids pennies instead of ping pong balls

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Other Fun Carnival Activities

This classic carnival game idea takes some skill, so if your guests are very young you may want to try the Sweet Ring Toss instead.

I know we’re talking about carnival games ideas, but don’t pass up some of these awesome carnival birthday party ideas and activities.

  • Face painting booth – check out this awesome face painting recipe.
  • Tattoo booth (removable tattoos of course!)
  • Finger painting table
  • Funny Photo Booth – draw a funny body on a piece of sturdy cardboard or plywood then cut a hole for the face. Take Polaroid pictures to give as party favors.

Click Here For Lots More Kid Party Game Ideas

 

What’s the #1 way to assure your party will be a great success?

Have a well thought out games and activities program!

Check out our Awesome Birthday Games & Activities Party-Saver Tips.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

minal

This page of carnival party games is very good.
Thank U

Reply

Jennifer

Just wanted to say THANK YOU for all the great game ideas! I’m very excited I found your site AND that it was so helpful! Thanks again for not giving costly ideas and for making my sons party the best yet!
Jennifer

Reply

Deb

Thank you for all the great party game ideas!!!!! Looking forward in our Church Family Fun Day Open House celebration to play some of these games.

Reply

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