School Carnival Activities

School Carnival Activities - When you’re responsible for putting together activities for a school carnival you have many options to choose from. It all starts with how many dedicated volunteers you have. School Carnival Activities take time, effort and manpower. All the activities will need to be supervised and monitored. There’s no sense in scheduling 50 activities, if you can only supply volunteers for 25.

The size of your school will determine how many activities you should have. Over 20 years of experience has shown me that if a school has 1000 students, you can expect at least 1000 attendees at your carnival. That means you should plan activities to keep a thousand people busy for as many hours as your carnival will last. Children get bored easily, and if there’s not enough to do, they’ll want to leave.

For more information on school carnivals, please consult our: School Carnival Guide

Sand Art

The type of activities you choose will also help determine how many you should plan for. Different activities will vary on the amount of time each one takes. For example, a carnival game may take a child about four minutes to play, and only one child can play that carnival game at a time. So, you can plan on accommodating 15 children an hour with that game. In contrast, a Magic Show will typically last 30 minutes, and you can keep 100 or more children entertained during that time period.

The next consideration is how much space you have to work with, and is the carnival inside, outside, or a combination. Some school carnival activities must be outside, such as pony rides or a Fun Flush. Most others, such a cake walks, bake sales, and sand art can be indoors or outside. Some activities, such as dance performances or auctions are best presented on a stage.

Whether the goal of the carnival is to raise funds, or just a “thank you”, people want to have fun. The school carnival should have a good mix of activities to keep all age groups entertained and occupied.

There are many carnival activities available for committees to choose from. Some of the entertainment,

such as magicians, clowns and DJ’s may involve a cost. Other activities, such as martial arts or dance troupe demonstrations will not. A third group, which includes bake sales, auctions and cake walks, will produce income. Contests may produce publicity, and sometimes income as well. Many of the activities listed below may be sponsored,

so that no expenses are incurred.

Here’s a list of popular school carnival activities:

Cake Walk

A popular favorite, every school carnival seems to include this activity. Children walk around a circle with numbered squares. When the music stops, each participant chooses a number. One number is chosen and the person standing on that square wins a cake.

Location: This activity may be done inside or outside.

Requirements: One or two tables to hold the donated cakes, and a portable music player (boom box) or DJ to play music.

Volunteers: This activity usually requires only one or two volunteers.

Magic Show

Magic Shows and Magicians are extremely popular at school carnivals. Many schools charge an additional fee, such as two or three dollars for admittance to a Magic Show. Some schools, with limited space, will presell tickets to this school carnival activity.

Location: This activity may be done inside or outside.

Requirements: Some Magicians may need a table and a chair or two, but otherwise, most magicians bring everything they need. Volunteers: This activity usually requires only one or two volunteers to supervise the children and take tickets.

Disc Jockey

A DJ will add excitement and background music to your event. Not only can you have the DJ make frequent announcements (such as lost parents and illegally parked cars), but you can also have him or her run dance contests and be the emcee for demonstrations.

Location: This activity may be done inside or outside.

Requirements: Typically a table or two and one electrical outlet. Volunteers: None

Face Painting

Face Painting may either be done manually, or by a professional Airbrush Artist. The Airbrush Artist is usually more expensive, but their work often looks more professional, and they can typically do three times the volume a manual artist can. This is always one of the most popular school carnival activities.

Location: This activity may be done inside or outside.

Requirements: Typically a table, two chairs and one electrical outlet. Volunteers: One, if you need someone to take tickets.

Carnival Games

There’s nothing like the thrill of being at a carnival and every adult remembers playing some carnival games

as a child. Games of skill and chance bring excitement and fun to any school carnival.

Location: Games may be placed inside or outside.

Requirements: Some games require a table. Volunteers: One volunteer per carnival game

Spin Art

This school carnival activity inspires children of all ages to explore their artistic side. Using the several colors (that are included), children can create colorful cards.

Location: This activity may be placed inside or outside.

Requirements: Two or three tables, one for the machine itself, and another one or two for the artwork to dry. Volunteers: One or two volunteers.

Pony Rides


Pony rides are always a welcome addition to any school carnival. The rides are popular with younger children. When booking this type of activity, be sure the company that brings the ponies has up-to-date health certificates on all their animals. Most schools will pay a flat fee to the pony ride company; others will pay a percentage, often the school receiving 20%.

Location: This activity must be outside, usually on grass.

Requirements: The vendor supplies the ponies and manpower. Volunteers: One volunteer may be needed to collect tickets.


Contests are a great way to promote your school carnival, bring in needed publicity, and help in raising funds. There are a lot of different contests you can run.

Halloween Costume, Jellybean Guessing, Limbo Contest, etc… You’re only limited by your imagination.

Location: This activity may be inside or outside.

Requirements: Depends on the contest. Volunteers: One to three volunteers may be needed, depending on the contest. For more information on school carnivals, please consult our: School Carnival Guide