8 Easy Fall Carnival Activities that Won’t Break the Budget

As the autumn winds blow in, school carnival season is just getting started. Fall carnivals are a great way for students and their families to engage with their school and have a good time, but they can also be great fundraisers. Whether you’re looking to raise some money or just have some fun, here are 8 great fall carnival activities that won’t break your budget.


1. Photo Booth: Renting a photo booth can get expensive, so if you want to save some money make your own! It’s simple to set up with a PVC pipe frame, some sheets of fabric, a digital camera, and a photo printer. You can even provide silly props like feather boas, hats, and glasses. For extra fun, let kids decorate their own frame to put their picture in! 


2. Toy Swap: Ask kids to bring a gently used toy they don’t need anymore to drop off upon entering the carnival and give each child a voucher for their contribution. At a designated time, everyone who brought a toy can exchange their voucher for something new!


3. Treasure Hunt: Fill a plastic kiddie pool with sand and bury prizes inside for kids to dig up. You can get creative with prizes by challenging kids to find multiple items to solve a puzzle or by going along with the theme of the carnival.


4. Sponge Toss: Instead of a dunking booth, you can use a plywood board with a face cutout and wet sponges as projectiles. Decorate the board and get an adult to stand behind it to get splatted! Kids love a chance to bring authority figures down a peg, so bonus points if you can get a principal or teacher to volunteer for this one.


5. Costume Contest/Fashion Show: If your carnival is close to Halloween, or has an appropriate theme, a costume contest is an easy and fun activity. Have all the costumed kids parade around the carnival to show off their outfits, then announce winners at the end. You can come up with multiple categories for the contest like best homemade costume, best sibling duo, most original, or crowd favorite.


6. Pumpkin Decorating: Provide feathers, pom-poms, sequence, glitter, googly eyes, and markers for kids to decorate a pumpkin without the mess or danger of carving. You can even award prizes for categories like spookiest, silliest, and most creative pumpkin!


7. Brain Bowls: Let kids get their hands messy in mystery bowls of goop. You can hide the bowls under boxes and label them as different monster brains, or just let the kids try to guess what’s inside! Some good ideas for goop include homemade slime [http://tinkerlab.com/flubber-gak-slime-exploration/], cooked spaghetti, Jell-O, and pumpkin guts. Here’s another fun take on the monster sensory box idea, though it requires a little more prep-time and material gathering.[http://christinasadventures.com/2011/10/halloween-mystery-boxes.html] Make sure you have allergy information available for this activity.


8. Jail: Kids can send their classmates to “jail” for a few minutes, unless they get bailed out! You can really dress this one up by creating a PVC pipe “jail cell” and having a volunteer dress up as the Sheriff. This can be a fun way to raise money by offering bailout and revenge deals.