How to throw the best CARNIVAL PARTY
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Pony Party Blog

How to throw the best CARNIVAL PARTY

One of the most popular pony party themes is a Carnival party. Chamberlin will bring the "Carnival Animals" as well as the face painter, bubble machine pumping hundreds of fun bubbles in the air, balloons for a fun carnival atmosphere!   We will even decorate our ponies and horses with lots of brightly colored ribbons.  

The hit of your Carnival party will be the ponies dressed in colorful ribbons.  And the wonderful petting zoo animals.  To top it all off we will even bring you cheek art and twisty balloons. 

All included in our Complete Party Package!


Ponies, Face Paint, Animals, Balloons, and games
are on the list for fun
hurry on over
'cause the CARNIVAL has begun!
join us to celebrate
Saturday, July 20th
2:00 p.m.
(Your Address)

Or, you might like this one...

Step right up and join the fun...
This carnival party will be the best one!
Ponies, animals, games, prizes, face painting and more,
Snow cones, popcorn, treats galore!
join us to celebrate
Saturday, July 20th
2:00 p.m.
(Your Address)


Make a sign so people know they have come to the right home.

Get 'yer tickets here! No backyard carnival would be complete without a ticket booth for all the attractions. Who knew that all it takes to spruce up a backyard carnival is a little creativity and a cardboard refrigerator box.

What you'll need

  • Cardboard Refrigerator Box (found at local appliance stores)
  • Wooden Dowel
  • Scissors or Knife (strong enough to cut through cardboard)
  • Paints
  • Rolls of Tickets (found at local party stores)

Helpful Tip:
After the booth is built, guests can help man the booth.
How to make it

  1. Cut a door in the box's back and a ticket seller's window in the front, providing a dowel (set into holes in the box's sides) to hold the rolls of tickets.
  2. After priming and painting the booth, place the booth so that as guests arrive, a host could greet visitors from within, give them their tickets, and receive any birthday gifts.

Below are some games that you can set up for the children to play during the party.

You'll need adult or teenage helpers to run each game booth, and the booths themselves can be created by using tables or cardboard stands.

For each, you'll want some inexpensive prizes such as stickers or candy, as well as a few larger items.

Do you have the courage to place your hands in the Mystery Box and identify what lies within?  
What you'll need

  • Large Cardboard Carton
  • Scissors or Knife (strong enough to cut through cardboard)
  • Duct Tape
  • Old Sweatshirt
  • Mystery Objects (comb, kitchen whisk, cereal, etc.)

How to make it

  1. Cut two armholes in the large cardboard carton.
  2. To prevent any peeking, duct-tape sleeves from an old sweatshirt to the holes' inside edges.
  3. After collecting the tickets, the booth operator puts the Mystery Objects (comb, kitchen whisk, breakfast cereal, bar of soap, and so on) one by one in the player's hands. Identify all the items, and the guest wins a prize.

Here's an activity only for kids brave enough to face a hungry lion -- and be photographed in a tuxedo! With an instant or digital camera, the resulting shots make for a great party favor.
What you'll need

  • 4- by 6-foot Sheet of Foam Core (available at larger office or art supply stores)
  • Pencil
  • Knife (Long enough to cut through foam core)
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Duct Tape
  • 2 Garden Stakes
  • Footstool (for short children)
  • Camera

Helpful Tip:
Dress up your photo board lion with pipe cleaner whiskers and give your tamer a balloon tether to hold.
How to make it

  1. To make a lion and lion tamer photo board, first sketch it out on the foam core in pencil.
  2. Cut the mouth hole out of the foam core with your knife.
  3. Pain the scene with acrylic paints.
  4. Once dry, duct-tape the photo board to the 2 garden stakes set in the ground.

Write point values on circular pieces of paper and place them under various sized jars on the lawn.  
Lay a hula hoop around the grouping of jars and have the kids drop clothespins into the jars to win points and tickets.

What You'll Need:

  • 12 bottles (glass or plastic - fill them with water or sand so they don't tip over).
  • 3 rings a little bigger than the neck of the bottles (these can be made out of cardboard, wooden craft rings, needlepoint rings, rings cut from coffee can lids or you can buy them at your local toy store).
  • A jump rope or piece of string.
  • A table.

How to play:

  1. Arrange the bottles side by side on a table (or on a flat piece of wood set on top of a couple of cement blocks covered with a colorful cloth or plastic tablecloth). All the bottles should be touching.
  2. Use string to mark a toe line (the place kids will stand to play the game).
  3. One at a time, have the kids take turns tossing the rings (three rings each) onto the bottlenecks.
  4. Any kid who gets a ring on a bottleneck wins.

It's simple to turn this carnival birthday party game into a non-competitive game that's perfect for your preschool guests.
What You'll Need:

  • 3 rings (these can be made out of cardboard, wooden craft rings, needlepoint rings, rings cut from coffee can lids or buy them at your local toy store).
  • An assortment of candy bars, small toys, and other trinkets.
  • A plastic/vinyl table cloth or a bed sheet.
  • A jump rope or piece of string.

How to play:

  1. Spread out the candy, toys, and trinkets on the tablecloth on the floor.
  2. Use string to mark a toe line (the place kids will stand to play the game).
  3. One at a time, have the kids stand at the toe line and take turns tossing the rings (give each kid three tries).
  4. You can make the game harder or easier by having the kids stand farther or closer to the game. Or by putting the items closer or farther apart.
  5. The game continues until each kid has had a turn.
  6. Any kid who tosses a ring over an item wins that item.


  • Non-competitive option - give a small individually wrapped candy to any kid that didn't win as a consolation prize just for playing the game.

Here's a carnival booth game that's perfect for preschoolers.

What You'll Need:

  • A cardboard box with a colorful lion's face on it. The lions mouth should be a large hole.
  • A jump rope or piece of string.
  • Soft foam balls (balls of newspaper or tissue paper will also work fine).
  • Stool or a low table (optional).

How to play:

  1. Depending on the size of the box you use, you may need to stand the box on a stool or a low table. Position the box so that the lion's open mouth faces out.
  2. Mark the play line with a piece of string a few feet from the lion.
  3. Ask each kid "Can you feed the lion?" Have the kids stand behind the play line and take turns throwing the balls into the lion's mouth.
  4. After a few minutes, stop and see how much "food" is inside the lion.
  5. When the lion is "full", stop the game.


  • You can also make a lion's face on a flat piece of cardboard and lean the lion on an angle against a wall or the back of a chair.
  • Use a large plastic container or basket and call the game Hoops or Basketball (this is easier for you since you don't have to prepare the lion.

Sort of like a tabletop version of miniature golf, this carnival game can be trickier than it looks.
What You'll Need:

  • A cardboard box.
  • 3 golf balls.
  • A jump rope or piece of string.

How to play:

  1. Cut three holes on one side of a cardboard box. Make each hole a different size for different skill levels (make sure that the smallest hole is big enough for a golf ball to pass through it). Label each hole with a value (the most difficult hole earns the most points). Unless you have a lot of golf balls on hand make sure to leave yourself an access hole in the side of the box so you can easily retrieve the balls from inside the box.
  2. Mark the starting line on the box.
  3. Have each kid roll the balls and try to get them into the holes.
  4. Continue the game until each kid has had a chance.
  5. The kid with the most points wins.

If you don't have the time or supplies to paint the polka dots on for carnival games for kids make sure you take a look at the variations (faster and probably cheaper to set up, but just as fun).

What You'll Need:

  • Large bed sheet.
  • Paint and a paint brush.
  • A jump rope or piece of string.

How to play:

  1. Take the bed sheet and paint polka dots on it. You can make them different sizes or colors and assign different point values for each. Or you can keep it really simple and just use one size and color.
  2. Cover a table with the sheet.
  3. Use string to mark a toe line (the place kids will stand to play the game).
  4. One at a time, let each kid throw three coins and try to have them land on a polka dot. They must get the coin completely inside the dot.
  5. Continue the game until each kid has had a chance to play.
  6. Any kid that gets a coin to land inside a dot wins.


  • Instead of painting on the polka dots, use an assortment of plates arranged on a table (leave about an inch between each plate)


Yes, this carnival game idea is a variation of one of the great classic birthday party games "Pin the tail on the Donkey."
What You'll Need:

  • Large picture of a clown (without a nose if possible)
  • Heavy red paper to make noses
  • Pen, pencil or marker to write each kid's name on each
  • Tape for each tail (double sided or tape loops - no pins needed!)
  • Blindfold (a scarf or bandana will do)

How to play:

  1. Hang the picture of the clown at an appropriate height.
  2. Blindfold the first kid.
  3. Slowly turn him around 1-3 times.
  4. Give him a nose with tape on the top end.
  5. Point him in the right direction.
  6. Then repeat with each kid.
  7. When all the kids have "pinned" their noses on the clown clap for all the funny places they landed.


  • Pin the Tail on the Tiger, or Pin the Trunk on the Elephant.

All kids love lollipops! And they'll love this simple yet intriguing carnival birthday party idea.
What You'll Need:

  • Small lollipops
  • A large piece of Styrofoam  
  • Three different color markers
  • Small prizes (three different types of small toys or trinkets)
  • 3 paper bags

How to play:

  1. Cut a piece off the bottom of a large Styrofoam ball so that it sits flat on a table.
  2. Place a dot on the end of each lollipop stick and push them into the Styrofoam ball. Put prizes into three paper bags and mark each bag with one of the three colors.
  3. One at a time, have each kid pick one lollipop and collect a prize from the corresponding prize bag (i.e.: a lollipop with a red dot picks from the red bag, and so on).
  4. Continue the game until each kid has picked a lollipop and a prize.


  • Mark the lollipop sticks with different colors that corresponding the colored prizes (i.e.: a lollipop with a red dot wins a toy, on so on.) This works great for a "Colors" theme party.

Kids love the anticipation of finding or "catching" things. That's why fishing type games work really well as carnival games for kids.

What You'll Need:

  • Small party favors or treats
  • Wrapping paper and ribbon
  • Stick, string and a paper clip to make a fake fishing pole
  • Plastic swimming pool (A large plastic basket or box will work, too.)

How to play:

  1. Wrap each treat and tie it with a ribbon with a bow. (Make sure the bows have big loops.)
  2. Make a fishing pole with the stick, string and the paper clip for a hook.
  3. Put the presents in the pool (no water!). Or to keep things really simple place the presents on the floor.
  4. Have each kid take a turn fishing for a present.
  5. Each kid gets to keep the present they catch.


  • For very young kids you can cut fish shapes out of colorful cardboard and attach paper clips to each fish. Use a magnet for the hook on the fishing pole instead of a paper clip.

What kid can resist a bright yellow "rubber duckie" That's why this carnival birthday party idea is a surefire hit, especially with young kids.

What You'll Need:

  • Small rubber duckies (one for each kid).
  • A permanent marker.
  • A kiddie pool or large tub of water.
  • A prize for each kid.

How to play:

  1. Using the permanent marker number each duck on the bottom (one for each kid). Prepare a small prize that and label it with a corresponding number.
  2. Float all the ducks in the kiddie pool.
  3. Have each kid pick a duck and they get the prize that corresponds with the number on the bottom of that duck.


  • Number each duck 1, 2, 3, etc. Have three corresponding tubs of toys for kids to choose from. The toys can be wrapped or unwrapped.

Here's a really fun carnival game idea that's best suited for older kids (under adult supervision of course!)

What You'll Need:

  • A smooth piece of wood or thick cardboard (don't want the balloon popping too soon!)
  • Balloons (inflated) - small balloons make it harder, large balloons make it easier.
  • Pushpins or thumbtacks.
  • A jump rope or a piece of string.

How to play:

  1. Hang the wood (dart board) at an appropriate height for your group. Attach the balloons to the board (pushpins work better than thumbtacks because they're easier to get hold of!). Make sure you have enough balloons ready to add as needed.
  2. Use string to mark a toe line (the place kids will stand to play the game).
  3. One at a time, give each kid three darts to throw at the balloons.
  4. Any kid that pops a balloon is a winner.


  • Put small pieces of paper inside each balloon that have a prizes written on. You can also write "points" on each slip of paper which the kids can collect and redeem for prizes later on.

Whether you choose Jell-o or whipped cream this carnival game idea makes some of the messiest "good clean fun." Have your cameras ready!

What You'll Need:

  • A bowl of Jell-O for each kid (it's good to have a couple extra on hand).
  • Plastic sheeting (optional for a fast and easy clean-up).
  • Pie tins (see variations below).
  • Whipped cream in a can (see variations below).

How to play:

  1. Prepare one bowl of Jell-O for each kid.
  2. Put down the plastic sheeting if you choose to use it.
  3. Place the bowls in a straight line on the floor (on the plastic).
  4. Have each child kneel down and place their hands on the floor beside their bowl.
  5. On the word "Go!," all the players begin eating their Jell-O hands-free. They are not allowed to use their hands at any time during the game.
  6. The first kid to lick his bowl clean is the winner.


  • Pie eating contest - played the same as above, with pie tins filled with whipped cream instead of Jell-O.

This classic pyramid knockdown carnival birthday party idea is definitely worth putting on the list. You just can't go wrong with a classic party game!

What You'll Need:

  • 15 Empty soda cans (or stackable plastic bottles).
  • 3 Bean bags (easily made from old socks - no holes please - and dry beans or rice. Fill each sock, tie off, sew or hot glue the end shut) or balls.
  • A bench (or a plank propped up on cement blocks works well).
  • A jump rope or piece of string.

How to play:

  1. Line up the cans (or plastic bottles) on a bench in the form of a pyramid.
  2. Use string to mark a toe line (the place kids will stand to play the game).
  3. One at a time, let each kid throw bean bags (or balls) at them to see how many they can knockdown. Continue the game until each kid has had a chance to play.
  4. The kid that knocks down the most cans wins. If there is a tie have a playoff round and increase the distance from the cans to the toe line.

Here's one carnival birthday party idea that's definitely harder than it looks. Ping Pong balls are made to bounce off of any hard surface. Just watch the surprise look on the kid's faces when the ball hits the rim and bounces right out of the jar!

What You'll Need:

  • At least 12 empty glass jars
  • 3 ping pong balls
  • A table
  • A jump rope or piece of string.

How to play:

  1. Arranged on the empty glass jars on a table (leave about an inch between each jar).
  2. Use string to mark a toe line (the place kids will stand to play the game).
  3. One at a time, give each kid three ping pong balls let her try to toss them into the jars.
  4. Continue the game until each kid has had a chance to play.
  5. The kid that gets the most balls in the jars wins. If there is a tie have a playoff round and increase the distance from the can to the toe line.


  • Give the kids pennies instead of ping pong balls

A simple wooden contraption, with even simpler rules of play, Star Seeker may be the most popular attraction at your carnival. And although it takes a little construction know-how to assemble one, it's a game the kids will want to play with long after the party is over and which you can trot out to any future events. Players place a golf ball on the rotating launch shelf, release the ball, then watch it bounce through the course of screws until it comes to rest in a slot with a star (a winner!) or without (try again?). Here's how we put ours together.  
What you'll need

  • 3/4-inch Plywood, 3- by 4-foot sheet
  • 3 8-foot lengths of 1- by 4-inch boards (cut into three 4-foot sections, two 3-foot sections, and eight 31/2-inch square blocks)
  • Latex Paint
  • Paintbrush
  • 120 3-inch Decking Screws Colored Paper or Stickers (for stars)
  • 1 hinge
  • Golf Balls

Helpful Tip:

  • Stagger the rows of screws for maximum ball bouncing.
  • Launch shelf rotates on one screw on each end.
  • Hinged support leg holds unit at an angle.
  • If your ball lands in a slot with a star, you win!

How to play
Start with a 3- by 4-foot sheet of I-inch plywood. Screw the 1- by 4-inch boards to the sides and bottom.

  1. On the top, create the launch shelf from another length of 1 by 4 cut to fit loosely within the two side walls. Set the board 1/2 inch or so off the plywood so it can easily rotate in place, and secure with 1 screw on each end.
  2. Paint the plywood (before putting in the screws!) with latex paint.
  3. When dry, set the screws in place by first drawing 10 parallel pencil lines across the plywood, 3 or so inches apart, then driving in the screws along the lines about 3 1/2 inches apart and 1/2 inch deep. Have each row be staggered so the screws from one row fall in between the screws above.
  4. Along the bottom, create 9 slots with the eight 1 by 4 squares, screwing them in from the bottom and back. Mark every other slot with a paper or sticker star.
  5. Hinge a 4-foot length of 1 by 4 to the top of the unit for a support leg.
  6. Lean the unit back on the leg, place a golf ball on the launching shelf, and shoot for the stars!

Hotdogs wrapped in foil, popcorn in red/white bags, small bags of cotton candy (or rent a cotton candy machine), snow cones or nachos.
Hot dogs here! Send a vendor out among the hungry masses with a tray fashioned from a decorated filling box.

What you'll need

  • Filling Box
  • Wrapping Paper
  • Markers or Paint
  • Wide Ribbon
  • Needle and Thread

How to make it

  1. Decorate a filling box by painting on it, using markers, or wrapping it with wrapping paper.
  2. Flip the lid upside down and place it in the box as a shelf.
  3. For a strap, thread wide ribbon through each handle and then sew together the edges.

Decorate a cake with simple stripes, or if you're feeling more intrepid, cupcakes can be frosted to look like clowns. Alternately, ice cream cones, candy apples or cotton candy would all make for interesting variations to the usual birthday cupcake.
Concession Stand : Make a poster for the food area that says "Concession Stand", and include pictures of the snacks you'll be serving. If desired, you can give the kids a few additional tickets that they can use to "buy" party food. For added fun, ask an older sibling or neighbor to dress as a clown and hand out the snacks.
Fun Drinks: Add a shaped silly straw to each guest's drink.
Fresh Popcorn: Consider renting a commercial popcorn machine to give your carnival an authentic feel. Everyone loves freshly-popped popcorn! For added fun, serve the popcorn in red- and white-striped popcorn bags.
Sweet Carnival Treats: Make sweet carnival treats for your guests using a borrowed, rented or purchased snow cone maker or cotton candy machine.

Call Chamberlin Pony Rides & Mobile Petting Zoo when your ready to reserve your great carnival day!

See you at the carnival!

Chamberlin Pony Rides & Mobile Petting Zoo