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Carnival Game Ideas for Kids Birthday Parties

Carnival Games for birthdays and other celebrations. Make it tailored to your theme or party occasion.

Quick Link to Carnival Party Games

Duck Pond

duck pond game This carnival game is perfect for young toddlers but enjoyed by any age. All children are winners! Just pick a duck and win a prize.


  • Kiddy Pool or large container or storage tub
  • Water
  • Sharpie
  • Numbered Buckets for prizes
  • Small Prizes (stickers, treats, small toys)


    1. Fill tub or pool with water.
    2. Mark the ducks underneath with a numbers 1-4 or however many prize buckets you want to have.
    3. Mark each prize bucket with a number corresponding to one on a duck. Example if you number ducks 1-4, then you need four prize buckets.
    4. Each child has a turn picking a duck and then selecting a prize from the corresponding prize bucket
    5. Return duck for next child's turn.

    BIRTHDAY PARTY Rubber Ducks

    rubber ducks duck pond game

    Tic Tac Toe

    bean bag tic tac toe Get a pre made game or make your own and decorate according to your party theme. This carnival game can be played indoors or outdoors.


  • Tic Tac Toe Game Board
  • Bean Bags
  • Cones or Tape or Sidewalk Chalk to mark where to stand

    1. Buy or make a tic tac toe board.
    2. Give each child 4 or 5 bean bags
    3. Three in a row wins!

  • Adjust distance to age group.
  • You can make your own bean bags if you have a sewing machine with scrap material and fill with rice.
  • Ball Toss

    bean bag tic tac toe Find five baskets and decorate with colors of your party or add some pictures.


  • 5 Baskets (Apple Baskets work well)
  • Bean Bags or Jugs White Poly Baseballs (One Dozen)
  • Cones or Tape or Sidewalk Chalk to mark where to stand

    1. Arrange your baskets and set how far you want the children to stand
    2. Give each child 5 balls or bean bags.
    3. Determine how many must make it into the baskets to win. Adjust according to age group and ability.

  • Adjust distance to age group.
  • You can make your own bean bags if you have a sewing machine with scrap material and fill with rice.
  • Plinko

    plinko carnival game Here is a home made game board to play plinko. You can make a smaller version for younger children.


  • Game Board
  • Round Discs
  • Numbered Buckets with prizes

    1. Home made plinko board
    2. Give each child a disc
    3. Drop the disc from the top and the number slot it lands in, is the bucket the child selects the prize from.

  • You can purchase a plinko board but they are expensive so making one is probably the best choice.
  • You can make it smaller for young children and use coasters as game pieces.
  • Tip the board back a little so the the chip slides down the board rather than bouncing out of it.
  • Penny Drop

    penny drop game Inexpensive game using a fish tank, jar, water and pennies! Great for an ocean theme party or an outdoor party with carnival style games.


  • Aquarium
  • Small glass vase or jar
  • Water
  • Pennies

    1. Fill tank with water.
    2. Place jar in tank.
    3. Drop pennies and if it goes into the jar, it's a winner.

  • Weigh down jar with pennies if needed.
  • It's tricky so consolation prizes are a good idea.
  • Test level of water to make it easier or harder.
  • Putt Putt Golf

    golf putt game Putt Putt golf is an easy to set up game.


  • Putting green
  • 3-5 golf balls
  • Putter

    1. Give each child 3-5 balls and putter.
    2. Putt the golf balls

  • Show how to hit, and explain you don't need to hit it hard or you'll be chasing balls.
  • You could use practice plastic balls instead of real balls.
  • Have prizes for everyone who tries.
  • Tiki Nut Hunt

    tikki nut hunt This is the classic ball and cup game where you shuffle the cups with a ball under one and the child guesses which cup is hiding the ball.


  • Cups
  • Ball or small object
  • Decorations to match theme

    1. Show the ball and place under one cup.
    2. Shuffle the cups and have the child guess which cup the ball is under.

  • Can adjust shuffle according to age.
  • Have prizes for everyone who tries.
  • Find plastic cups at the Dollar Tree and other $1 sections in Target or WalMart to match your theme.
  • Bean Bag Toss

    bean bag game Make a bean bag toss board and decorate with your party colors or you can find some premade.


  • Game Board
  • Bean Bags
  • Cones or Tape or Sidewalk Chalk to mark where to stand

    1. Buy or make a bean bag toss board
    2. Give each child 4 or 5 bean bags
    3. Decide how many you need to get in the hole to win. This one can be tricky!

  • Adjust distance to age group.
  • You can make your own bean bags if you have a sewing machine with scrap material and fill with rice.
  • Test to see how difficult it is to get the bean bag in...this is harder to win than the tic tac toe bean toss.
  • Race Cars

    race car game This is a simple game with one die, die cast cars and a game board.


  • Game board made out of wood, cardboard or you could laminate card stock or similar.
  • 1 Die (large is easiest) You can find some at education stores where they sell game pieces.
  • Decorate board to match theme

    1. Players select car and put at the starting line.
    2. Player rolls die on turn and moves car the number of spaces on the die thrown.
    3. Winner is the first car crossing the finish line

  • Racing Flags make cute prizes or decorations.
  • Parachute Game

    parachute game Drop a parachute onto a quadrant and depending where it lands, determines which prize.


  • Tarp or Landing Area of your choice.
  • 1 Parachute Man
  • Add numbers to quadrants (optional)

    1. Players drop parachute man onto game mat.
    2. Depending where he lands, determines which prize is selected.

  • Number the quadrants so children can try to aim at a certain one.
  • For a larger mat, use a parachute with colors as different quadrants to land your pieces on.
  • Ring Toss

    carnival ring toss An easy game for all ages. Range the difficulty by how far you throw the rings. Use masking tape or cones to set up where children stand. If there are varying ages playing you can set up 2 different throwing points.

    Make your own or you can buy many versions of this game.

    Velcro Darts

    velcro darts Easy to set up and few materials make this a great game.


  • Dart Board and Velcro Balls
  • Sidewalk Chalk to mark where to stand.

    1. Set up board and mark where you want children to stand with sidewalk chalk or cones.
    2. Give each child 3 balls to throw.

  • You could make your own and use the colors of your party theme or you might be able find one to match your theme.
  • Penny Toss

    carnival coin toss Set up a table with cups, saucers and small containers and toss pennies to win small prizes.


  • Low Table
  • Colorful cups, containers, small plates
  • Pennies
  • Small bag to hold pennies


    1. Set up a low table.
    2. Arrange cups, containers and plates in various positions. Use tape to secure if needed.
    3. Place cones or rope to show where to stand to toss pennies.
    4. Each child takes pennies and tosses to see if they can get it into the containers.
    5. Designate small prizes for easier containers to toss in and bigger prizes for harder ones or number of pennies landing in cups/containers determines prize. (optional)

  • Cut shapes of colored construction paper and number them. If a penny lands on a number they choose a prize from that prize bucket.
  • Tips

  • For young children, give all a prize for trying.
  • Have lots of extra pennies so you don't have to keep picking them all up

  • Go Fish

    Make a fishing pole and each child "fishes" for their prize. This is great carnival game for a range of ages as you can select what prize each child gets. You can adjust little prizes to the age or the person and everyone is a winner! Great for children who are shy and prefer games without competition. A cute variation using a large box is a wishing well!


  • Toy Fishing Pole or Small Dowel with String
  • Clothespin
  • Paint, stickers, rhinestones, or foam stickers to decorate the clothespin hook
  • Easel or Large Box (like a washer or dryer box)
  • Sheet
  • Small prizes sorted by age/name in Ziplock bags

    1. Set up your easel or box and decorate with your party theme.
    2. Make a fishing pole using a dowel or use an old cat toy. Add some string and a clothes pin at the end. Add a sticker or paint to decorate the "hook".
    3. Have a helper show each child how to "fish"
    4. Person behind the easel or in the box selects prize according to age or name.

  • Select light weight items.
  • Suggested items are bath towels (expanding), small party prizes, stickers, small treat.

  • Donuts On a String

    Fun for all ages. Simply tie a line from two trees with string or clothesline wire. Tie a single donut and each child tries to eat the donut without using their hands. Whomever finished first wins. It's a hilarious carnival game to watch kids do. Since most people do not have clotheslines anymore if you can find a way to string a laundry line or twine from two places, such as two trees you could easily do this game. Having a donut is a treat so no prizes necessary.

    Bobbing For Apples

    A fun challenging carnival game. Not as popular as it once was when people but inexpensive and requiring few materials to set up! You can find inexpensive plastic bins at Dollar Stores so each child can have an individual bobbing for apple container and keep as a goody bag holder.
    For more birthday party games see:

    Classic Party Games

    Outdoor Party Games

    Triumph Sports Bag Toss is plain and you can decorate with stickers, paint to match your party theme.

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