4 Benefits of Hosting a School Carnival

Little kid boy painting a pumpkin at a school carnival
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Hosting a school carnival offers many benefits for the entire school community. For your event to be a success, it's ideal to be clear on what you hope students, families, teachers, and staff will get out of hosting a carnival. Being intentional about your objectives and goals will help you organize and promote your event into a cohesive and targeted success.

Once you have clearly defined goals, you can plan each piece of your event to enhance and accomplish your intended aims. You're also likely to attract more enthusiastic volunteers, supporters, and attendees if they understand and can get excited about the purpose of the event. Plus, a focused, organized event is bound to be more fun and less stressful for all involved.

School Fundraising

Carnivals can be good fundraising events to provide money for a number of goals for schools. Reasons for needing school funds can range from specific one-time goals, such as the purchase of new playground equipment, or longer-term ongoing goals like providing funds for extracurricular activities and field trips. 

If fundraising is your reason for hosting a carnival, be sure that the goal is well-publicized both before and during the event.

Mention the fundraising goal when promoting the event and be sure to thank volunteers, sponsors, and attendees for supporting the school's financial goals during the event. Additionally, be sure to have a variety of activities in different price ranges. This will help you to draw a larger crowd where some people can play an inexpensive game or raffle while those who are able and willing to give more money can.

Community Engagement

Schools are neighborhood centerpieces of their community. In addition to being a venue for community meetings, a local public school is also a place that binds neighboring families together, since most of the neighborhood children do or will attend a school together.

Private schools, charter schools, and school co-ops also often provide opportunities for involvement with their larger communities, such as hosting public events and engaging in community service. All types of schools can benefit from hosting community events, whether open to the public or just the school's staff and families.

Schools benefit from having local community and business support. While this certainly includes parents of registered students, it also may include partnerships with local businesses and other community agencies, colleges, and universities. 

Carnivals can be a welcoming gesture that can bring all ages to the school to see the building and perhaps meet teachers and students. The idea is to provide a fun event while highlighting the value the school provides to the community.

If community engagement is your goal, be sure to include displays of students' artwork and projects, a few open classrooms, student music and drama performances, and/or information about where successful alumni have gone since attending the school. 

Your school can also publicly thank existing community partners during the carnival through a brief award-style presentation or recognition in event handouts, posters, school newsletters, school or PTA/PTO websites, or local media outlets.

Safe, Kid-Friendly Fun

A school carnival can also simply be a way to provide a safe place for kids to have fun outside of school hours. These supervised events offer a safe venue for socializing for students and their families.

Holiday-themed carnivals are an especially great way to celebrate safely with the school community. Winter holiday school carnivals can provide safe indoor fun in regions of the country where bitter cold temperatures can make large gatherings and outdoor play less feasible or safe. Halloween and harvest carnivals can provide age-appropriate holiday fun for kids.

If there is a time of year that children or teens in your community love to celebrate but they lack a venue, consider letting it inspire the theme for a carnival. 

School carnivals can be held to welcome any age group of children. They don't need to be limited to the age group of the school students if open to school families or the public.

For example, if your community only has activities for older children on Halloween, your school can host an event for younger children. Instead of having small children going to a scary haunted house meant for teens or adults, an elementary school or middle school can host a Halloween carnival with age-appropriate activities like a costume contest, cake walk, and fun carnival games. 

Likewise, if there isn't a fun place for teens to go during Halloween, hosting a carnival that has a dance floor in one room and a scary haunted house in another can give teens a fun, safe place to go.

Community Service

If a group of children in your community is in need, you have a great opportunity for your school to host a carnival centered around providing for others.

No place for small children to safely celebrate a special holiday or event? Then, have a local high school, middle school, or elementary school put on a carnival for them. Students and parents at the school could staff the booths and activities as a community service project.

Your school can also host a carnival simply to provide a community gathering for neighborhood children, whether they attend the school or not. These carnivals don't need to be centered around any specific holiday or event. Instead, you can set up a general carnival or pick any other theme of your choice, such as animals or outer space, to provide a fun outing for local kids.

More often than not, school carnivals are held for a combination of reasons. A fall harvest carnival, for example, may be held to fundraise money to buy equipment and materials as well as to encourage community engagement. Though having clear goals is a must, having just one goal isn't. In fact, having multiple goals may bring in more interest and support for a successful event.

A Word From Verywell

Holding a school carnival is a wonderful way to build and celebrate a school community while also offering a family-friendly social event for students. The success of any school event often comes from considering both the main objective of the event—be it fundraising or getting to know neighborhood families—and then tailoring it to meet a clear community need. Whatever your aims are for your carnival, there are boundless ways to make it both fun and successful.

By Lisa Linnell-Olsen
Lisa Linnell-Olsen has worked as a support staff educator, and is well-versed in issues of education policy and parenting issues.