The Complete School Carnival Planning Guide for PTOs and PTAs
At many schools, carnivals and fairs become a beloved annual event. One reason so many schools hold carnivals is that they can be easily customized, becoming as simple or as elaborate as you want.
Whether you choose a traditional event or one that has a few more bells and whistles, pulling off a successful school fair is a big job that takes a lot of help and organization. This school carnival and fair planning guide includes everything you need to create a winning event for your school community.
Inside the Complete Guide to Planning a School Carnival:
School Carnival Planning: What You Need To Know
You’ll make planning your carnival more manageable by going one step at a time. Start with the logistics (location, time, permits, insurance), then move on to volunteers, budget and money management, and fnally food, games, and prizes.
Classic Carnival Activities
Whether you choose a theme for your school fair or stick to a more traditional setup, your choices for activities vary widely. Start by picking a few classics from our list (we include ones with and without prizes).
Add a Twist to Your School Carnival
One you’ve decided on the bulk of your activities, try some of these add-on ideas to give your carnival a fresh feel.
Promote your event with flyers and clip art. Make it shine with photo booth props, price sheets, and more.
How To Have an Amazing School Carnival
Pulling off a successful carnival is a big job that takes a lot of help. What successful carnivals and festivals have in common are organizers who work hard to understand what will work best in their school community. With that knowledge, your parent group will put on a special event that students will talk about until next year—when you do it all over again.
Assemble a committee. A carnival has a lot of different elements that need to be in sync. Look for creative, enthusiastic parents who are not already bogged down with other commitments. Recruit volunteer leaders to head up food, games, and logistics.
Nail down your budget. This will drive your big decisions. Many parent groups have put on wonderful, well-attended carnivals with tight budgets. With a bigger budget, you may be able to afford rides, more elaborate games, and additional food options.
Test some games. Interactive games are one of the hallmarks of a carnival. They can also cause anxiety among parents who fear kids will reject homemade games. Test-market new games on your children, and don’t be surprised if they’re just as happy throwing a ball in a hoop as playing an active video game. Standard go-to games include musical cakes, a ring toss, and a fishing activity.
Plan other activities. Beyond games, carnivals often feature pony rides, face-painting, hayrides, and even amusement rides like a small Ferris wheel. Musical performances by students or local bands are a good way to draw a crowd. Contests such as a bake-off or a chili cook-off are also popular.
Think about prizes. Kids like prizes. It doesn’t seem to matter what the prizes are; they can be small and inexpensive. Order enough to allow each child to win a prize at each game, plus at least 20 percent more. Extra prizes can be saved and used the next year, so it’s better to have too many than to risk running out.
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