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Decorating for a Carnival Party
Games, balloons, and bright colors -- a carnival is just like a birthday party, but better! So why not invite kids to a carnival-themed party in your backyard or at a local park? Any supplies you don't already have at home are inexpensive and easy to find. For the booths, raid your linen closet for colorful sheets and lightweight blankets; hang them from ropes or clotheslines suspended between trees.
If trees are scarce, stick volleyball or tent poles in the ground (in a public place, check with officials first). Older siblings can don utility aprons and man the booths, or you might ask a few of the other parents to help. At day's end, each child will leave with souvenirs and memories of a great day at the fair.
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A carnival-booth invitation is made with striped wrapping paper, construction paper, round stickers, tiny clothespins, and tickets. Party details are written on the back.
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This Way for Fun
As revelers wait for the fun to begin, an arrow points the way; ours is cardboard covered with construction paper and labeled with patterned letter stickers.
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Create Your Own Food Tent
Convert your patio furniture into a carnival "food tent": Cover the table with bright cloth, and string small balloons (water balloons filled with air work well) from the top of the umbrella. Tie the balloons to twine and anchor the twine to the ground with a golf tee. To brighten seating, knot scraps of colorful fabric to chairs.
5 of 16Paper straw garland is a fun activity for kids and a great decoration for the kid's playroom or craft room.
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Fish Out of Water
Kids can fish with a homemade pole: Tie a magnet to one end of a piece of string and a yardstick to the other. The magnet catches construction-paper fish fitted with metal paper clips. The challenge? Kids are blindfolded. They get three turns to win: three tickets for a shark, two for a red fish, one for a boot.
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Make Water from Paper
For a splash of color, add blue pieces of paper "water."
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The target table: a white box decorated with blue construction-paper waves and topped with red contact paper. We covered a strip of foam board with the same paper, inserted golf tees into it, and secured it to the box with double-sided tape.
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The Rules of the Game
Kids get one ticket for each ping-pong ball they knock off a golf tee with spray from a water gun.
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Clothespin Drop Game
Kids need good aim, a steady arm, and nerves of steel to succeed at this game: dropping a clothespin into the mouth of a glass bottle. The prize: one ticket. At this or any of the activities, contestants can get back in line for another turn.
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Tossing ping-pong balls into tumblers takes skill. Set up drinking glasses in a triangle formation on a low table. Inside each glass, place a cutout (easily made with a craft punch) in one of four colors: blue (worth four tickets), yellow (three), red (two), and white (one).
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Don't Forget a Backboard
A backboard (cardboard covered in paper) makes scoring easier; a ball can bounce off it into a glass.
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Temporary tattoos make memorable favors at a carnival-themed party. Set up a booth and enlist a grown-up to play tattoo artist.
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The Prize Table
When the day is over, it's time for kids to empty their pockets of all those tickets!
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Each ticket should be good for an item from one of the jars: a kazoo, yo-yo, ball, lollipop, gumball, or sunglasses. You can find prizes like these in party-supply stores or in the party section of supermarkets.
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This circus-inspired two-layer cake is frosted in white, then piped in tent colors, trimmed with candy-covered chocolates, and topped with a tiny paper flag taped to a toothpick.
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