Even if you don't live anywhere near a beach, you can bring the flavor of the ocean to your next school or church carnival with colorful beach decor, island music and food, and simple, entertaining games for your visitors. Set up stations around the gym or fellowship hall where carnival-goers can fish for prizes, try to juggle plastic shovels or toss ping-pong balls into plastic pails. Let little ones dig for buried treasure while guests of all ages show off their agility at the limbo contest.
Bring the Beach to You
What kid wouldn't enjoy going to the beach -- at school! Evoke that seashore feeling by setting up an outdoor area to fill with sand, or filling several wading pools with sand to use if your carnival is indoors. Your carnival-goers can use plastic pails, cups and shovels to create masterpieces in a sand sculpture contest. The sand also makes an ideal base for a treasure hunt. Before the carnival, hide small prizes in the sand, then share in the excitement as the youngest carnival-goers use small plastic shovels to dig for buried treasure.
Nothing says "Beach party!" like some steel drum music and a lively limbo contest. As the music plays, cheer on participants as they dance under a lightweight wooden pole or a taut rope, held at progressively lower levels. Hold separate competitions for children and adults and offer token prizes for the ones who are able to wriggle their way under the pole without touching it when everybody else has collapsed. Keep the camera handy to capture the goofy faces and body contortions of the contestants as they enjoy this beach favorite.
Beach Balls Galore
Inflate beach balls in a variety of sizes to use in your carnival games. Use a large beach ball to play sand volleyball. Larger balls are also best for a game in which kids stand in a circle and and hit the ball to one another in the air. If a player lets the ball touch the ground, he is out. Remaining players continue hitting the ball up into the air until only one player -- the winner -- is left in the game. Smaller beach balls or plastic balls are ideal for a ball toss game. Make a pyramid of small plastic beach pails and give kids three balls to throw to knock them down to win prizes.
Deep Sea Fishing
Younger kids typically enjoy getting to "fish" for prizes. Set up a heavy cardboard or wooden barrier and decorate it to look like the ocean. Help the young carnival-goers "cast" a wooden or plastic fishing pole and line over the top of the barrier. Behind the scenes, a carnival helper will tug on the line a few times so the fishermen feel like there's a fish on the line, then attach a small prize for them to reel in. The painted backdrop can also be used for beach-themed pictures for carnival visitors to take home as a memory of the event.