10 Carnival Games for Family Festivals

African American woman popping balloons with dart
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Carnival games are always a hit with kids. From trunk or treat events to school fundraisers, these homemade carnival games for family festivals are easy to make, easy to win, and fun for all.

These 10 carnival games are fun for any family event.

  • 01 of 10

    Pick a Duck

    You'll need rubber ducks, permanent markers, a small plastic swimming pool and water for this homemade carnival game. Mark the underside of each rubber duck with a dot and wait for the marker to dry.

    The dots represent the type of prize the child will win. A red dot could mean a candy prize. A blue dot could represent a small toy. If you have one large prize to give away, only mark one of the ducks with a different marker color, such as green.

    Now fill a small plastic swimming pool with water. Once the ducks are dry, add them to the water. The ducks will float, and each child has one chance to pick a duck. After pulling the duck out of the water, turn it over to see the colored dot and give a prize.

  • 02 of 10

    Water Coin Drop

    The concept of the water coin drop is simple. Place a glass into the bottom of an empty aquarium. The glass is usually the size of a shot glass or use a larger glass if you want to increase the chances of winning. Fill the glass with water and a few coins to anchor it and then fill the aquarium with water.

    The idea of this carnival game is for kids to place a coin at the top of the water and let it go. If the coin lands inside the glass, they win.

    Have enough coins on hand to last you throughout the event. Provide the same type of coin to make it fair to everyone who plays.

  • 03 of 10

    Balloon Pop

    You'll need index cards, balloons, pins, darts and a wall for this game. Kids will throw the darts at the balloons and receive a certain prize if they pop one.
    Start by thinking about how you would like your balloons arranged. If the game is played at a fall festival, you could blow up a bunch of orange balloons and a few green balloons. Then you would arrange them, so they appear to be a big pumpkin.

    Don't arrange them yet, though. You need to get their prize cards attached.
    Once you know how many balloons you'll be using, then use index cards to write out your prize list. Use one index card per prize. Pin each index card to the wall with the prize facing the wall so no one can see it. Place a balloon over each index card, pinning the base to the index card, so you don't pop the balloon.

    Kids will aim at the balloons and throw the dart. Be sure to stand out of the way! If they pop a balloon, the index card will be revealed. Remove it from the wall, turn it over and show the winner what they won.

  • 04 of 10

    Gone Fishing

    For this game, you'll need a child-sized fishing pole with a binder clip attached at the end instead of a hook. If you don't have a fishing pole, make a cane fishing pole using a stick and substitute the hook with the binder clip.

    The object of the game is very simple, which makes it an instant hit with younger children. The player will cast a line over a wall where an adult is hiding on the other side. Watch your head!

    You clip a piece of candy or a small toy to the clip and give the fishing line a pull as if the kids have caught a fish. The player pulls out the line and takes their prize.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Dino Dig

    This homemade carnival game can be a bit messy, but kids will love it. You'll need play sand, plastic shovels, plastic eggs made to look like dinosaur eggs and a small container, such as a kiddie-sized swimming pool.

    Put stickers and other small prizes inside the plastic eggs. If you have larger prizes, you can write the name of the prize on a slip of paper and put it inside an egg. Place all of the eggs in the small container. Fill the container with sand, making sure all of the eggs are completely covered.

    Hand out plastic shovels and let kids start digging. To minimize the chaos, only let one or two children dig at a time. The game is over when they find an egg and receive their prizes.

  • 06 of 10

    Bobbing for Apples

    One of the most popular fall festival games is bobbing for apples. If having your child stick their mouth in a tub of water where other kids have been lolling their mouths grosses you out, try this old British take on the game. Hang the apples from strings instead of using a bucket of water. Only allow one child to try for one apple, so other kids' mouths aren't going for the same apple.

    Another option is to use nets for apple catching. Use the bucket of water and stick the apples in for bobbing. Instead of kids using their mouths to get the apples out, they'll have to use a small net instead.

    This is perfect for smaller children who are working on their coordination skills. For older children, make it more challenging by blindfolding them.

  • 07 of 10

    Bean Bag Toss

    Make your own bean bag toss game. A bean bag in the hole means kids win a prize. If you would like to give players more than one shot at winning, then you must add more holes to your game. Paint rings around the different holes to represent prize tiers.

    For example, the hole at the top center is harder to reach so paint a red ring that will signify that the winner gets a big prize. Painting blue rings on the second rows can mean the winner gets a medium-sized prize. Yellow rings on the bottom row, which are the closest and easiest to hit, mean the winner gets a smaller prize.

  • 08 of 10

    Spin the Wheel

    There's something about a spinning wheel that draws a crowd of young and old. You can make a spinning wheel game out of anything. For Halloween, you could put ghost and pumpkins on a wheel and ask the player to choose one. If the wheel lands on the one they've chosen, they win a prize.

    If you want players to have a turn for specific prizes, then put pictures of the prizes on the wheel. Or use numbers and have kids guess which number the wheel will land on next. If it's not the number the player has called, that number of candy pieces goes into a pot of candy the next player can have a go at and so on. Repeat until the wheel finally lands on a player's number and they win the candy loot.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Find the Ball

    This classic homemade carnival game is one of the most simple on the list. You only need three plastic cups and a small ball to play.

    Show the ball to your player, put it under a cup and switch the cups around. The player tries to follow the cup that has the ball underneath. When you're done moving the cups around, the player taps the top of the cup they think the ball is in. You lift the cup, and if the ball is there, they win a prize.

    Another option is to use a piece of cardboard to hide all of the cups from your player. Place the ball under any cup and then remove the cardboard. Instead of moving the cups around, the player will guess which cup is hiding the ball. This version is easier for smaller children, especially if you increase their odds of winning by hiding an extra ball under some (or all) of the cups!

  • 10 of 10

    Lollipop Pull

    One homemade carnival game that's easy on you and fun for kids is a lollipop pull. Buy a large number of lollipops and use markers to color the bottom of the lollipop sticks. You'll also need some hay.

    You can make the game hard by only coloring a few lollipop sticks and leaving the rest white. Only players who pull a lollipop with a colored stick will win. Or you can make sure everyone's a winner and color the bottom of every lollipop stick. Use different colors to indicate separate prize tiers. Black can be your lower tier that means players win candy. Red can be a toy. Blue signifies a larger prize.

    Place all of the lollipops colored stick side down into the hay. Kids will come up one by one and pull a lollipop. Hand out the prize you've designated for that color lollipop stick. Simple and fun!