Yellow and pink hook-a-duck

The always-updated guide to spring and summer fair games

By having a variety of games at your summer fair, you're guaranteed to keep your audience milling around (and spending their money) for longer. 

Putt challenge

We loved Sandra McCann's summer fair game idea that would appeal to dads: 'We have a £5 note pinned to a strip of artificial grass (about 6" long). Whoever putts the ball onto the note wins. We charge 50p for three goes. Last time we had 110 attempts and two winners - £55 raised and we spent less than £10 in prizes. It can be played indoors too if it's wet. On the day, I issue an envelope with £5 notes to be given out to winners.  We use the tagline with 'Drive for show, PUTT for dough!' We are a first school with around 240 children.

Yucky dip

Dare to be different and try out a 'yucky dip' at your fair. Paul Compton, chair at Kings Norton Primary PTA gave us some advice: 'We use green jelly in big bowls and fill it with bugs from a pound shop. Children dive in and dig out the bugs - they love it! We charge 30p a go. Have a clean bowl of water and a towel at the ready for cleaning up.'

Marble pots

A gardening-based game idea - how many marbles can the children spoon into the hole on the bottom of ceramic plant pots in one minute? Claire Chambers did this: 'The kids loved it and so did the adults. We ran it alongside our plant stall, which worked really well.'

Rowing challenge

A great one for the adults to get involved with but beware, they tend to get competitive. Ask a local gym if you can borrow a rowing machine in exchange for them promoting their gym. Have prizes for the fastest 500m in different age groups.

Water into wine

A few months in advance of your summer fair, ask parents to bring in their used wine bottles (complete with screw tops). Fill the wine bottles with water. Ask for donations of wine from local supermarkets and/or parents and wrap all the bottles with newspaper. Have a ratio of roughly one bottle of wine for every five bottles of water. Aim to have roughly 200 bottles as a minimum. At £1 a go, profits will be limited by the number of bottles you have. Make sure anyone who plays is over 18.

Human fruit machine

Set up three child-sized boxes with holes cut out at chest height. Place a bowl of fruit in each box. You need to same kinds of fruit in each bowl to make the game work. Three children (the fruit machines) stand in the three boxes, and at the same time, show one piece of fruit - if all three fruit match, the player wins! You can make it simpler by having runner-up prizes for two matching fruit.

Piggy racing

Julie Caines told us the success of her piggy races: 'We bought four battery-operated pig toys from Hawkins Bazaar. We marked lanes with tape on a table and held races! We charged 50p a go. The piggies were a bit expensive at £15 each but we made our money back the first time we did it which isn't bad, around £50 each time.'

Tin can alley

Sometime before your summer fair, ask parents for donations of baked bean cans. Make sure they have no sharp edges. Use a bookcase with the back taken out to hold the cans. Set up the cans in pyramids of three, six, etc. and give players super soakers to shoot the cans off! A very simple game that, because of the water element, will have children coming back time and again. Give prizes for number of cans shot down - the more cans, the better the prize.

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Hook a duck

An old favourite - especially with little ones. Simply fill a paddling pool with water, float ducks with eyelets on their backs and numbers on their bottoms. Ask participants to hook the duck out of the water - the number on the bottom corresponds to the prize they have won. 

Sweet jar/chocolate tombola

Ask parents to donate boxes of chocolates or jars of sweets in the months running up to the fair (you could hold a mufti day and ask children to bring in chocolate or bags of sweets). Stick raffle tickets on top of each prize and have the same numbers - and more - in the tombola. Spin the tombola and the player pulls out a number. The player wins whichever prize corresponds with their number. Charge £1 for three spins. 

More ideas from our PTA+ Facebook community...

Michelle Whitlock: 'At last year's summer fair we had a 'beautiful surprise' game. A box with four separate compartments and doors held lip gloss, hair bows and nail polish. The forth slot was left open. If the student picks that door they get sprayed with silly string. The kids kept playing this one so they could get sprayed - we ran out of prizes.'

Mandy Harris: 'We have a 'pull the teddy' stall. We tie string on lots of teddies and cuddlies. Each participant pulls a string and gets the teddy that's on the end of the string.' 

Susan Farrell Smith: 'Our best seller is a 'bottle bag grab'. Ask for people to donate bottle bags with bottles of anything inside - shampoo, sauce, juice, washing up liquid, wine, etc. Seal the bags at the top and participants pay £1 for a bag - they may get a Fruit Shoot or a bottle of wine!' Remember that if you have alcoholic prizes though, only over 18s can play.

Jacqueline Jordon: 'Play your Cards Right is a variation on the Shove a Penny Game. Using oversized playing cards, players roll a penny and if it lands on an even/odd number or a card of a certain colour, they win a prize.'

Sharon Blain: 'We have a washing line game at the summer fair and a Christmas tree game at Christmas. It's £1.50 a turn. We make up 100 envelopes (but usually have to restock!). There are 75 prizes and 25 no wins. Prizes include a free drink, free burger, fancy rubber gloves and washing up liquid, donated spa sessions, donated lamps (new) and gift sets. The types of prizes vary depending on what we get as donations. It's a really popular game. We don't write the prize in the envelope just WINNER and a number which corresponds to a list. That way if someone has taken the wrong prize, the stallholder can replace it with no disappointment and numbered 'winner' cards can be reused at the next event.' 

  • Do you have any fantastic ideas for summer fair games? Email us now.

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