Elementary school carnivals are a love-hate item on every PTA/PTO's annual 'To Do' list. On the one hand, they are a primary fundraising tool for many schools. However, they are often the same boring games -- corn hole and ring toss anyone? -- year after year after year. It's time to shake up the carnival with some new activities and, quite possibly, raise even more money in the process.
1. Legoland - This activity is really the easiest addition to your carnival. Collect used Legos throughout the year or buy knock-offs online. To set up, simply spread them all on an eight foot round table. Done. You don't even need an attendant. While you could charge a ticket for admission to the area, sometimes it is a good idea to offer a free event or two.
2. Escape Room - Have you heard of these? Escape rooms are all the rage for adults. Basically, you are locked in a room with several other people. You have a limited time to solve clues or puzzles before something happens, like zombies eating your brains. It makes for a great date night, but you can also take this new trend and turn it into PTA/PTO gold. Create a G-rated escape room for carnival attendees. If you are worried about the scare factor, you can always limit the room to 3rd grade and up.
3. Book Walk - Carnivals traditional stage cake walks, a twist on musical chairs where the winner of each round earns a donated baked good. Instead of asking overworked parents to bake for you, skip the calories and try a book walk, where kids walk away with a book instead. Anything that promotes extra reading is a winner in elementary school, right?!
4. Quiet Room - This last suggestion won't earn you any extra tickets, but parents will love you. Choose a room slightly apart from the main carnival area with a door that can be closed. Dim the lights, if you can. Let parents know that the room is available, should they need it. The idea is that anyone with sensory issues, breastfeeding moms, or even parents of toddlers can spend a little time in a quiet place, away from the hustle and bustle of your event, to catch their breath, calm down, or just chill. Leave out some paper and crayons or a tray of Legos for quiet play.