Finding new ideas for your summer fair can be a challenge. Our ultimate guide to stalls and games is brimming with tried-and-tested stalls that are easy to run, popular with visitors and bring in the money! Think we've missed any? Email email@example.com with your suggestions.
Adopt an animal
Ask for donations of good-quality soft toys or source free ones on a classified ad site such as Gumtree. Put them through the washing machine, attach a name tag and put all the names in a hat. Children pull out a name to find out which animal they've won.
A variety of badge making machines can be purchased online, from smaller versions ideal for use on year stalls to more expensive, sturdier alternatives. If you don't want to invest, see if your local Lions or Rotary club has one to lend. Simply cut out images the correct size, and use your machine make badges for visitors before their very eyes. Make badges using your school logo or get visitors to draw their own. Price according to how much the badges cost to make.
Balance bike assault course
Create an obstacle course for little ones to tackle on a balance bike. Incorporate obstacles such as stars dangling on string and cones to ride around. Anyone who completes it wins a sweet.
Lay out a range of differently-sized jars or plant pots. Players must bounce a ping pong ball into a pot to win a prize. The smaller the pot in which they can successfully land the ball, the better the prize.
Beat the goalie
The player has three chances to get a football past the goalie. This could be a pupil or a member of staff complete with huge inflatable goalkeeper gloves. If the player succeeds, they win a prize. Charge 50p for three goes.
Ask players to hold a partially-filled water bottle by its neck and flick it into the air. The aim is for the bottle to rotate fully so it lands upright on its base. If they can do it, they win a prize.
Ask for donations of bottles. These could be anything from wine and juice to shampoo and sauce. Label up the prizes with raffle tickets and ask players to draw a number to see if they've won. Depending on how many donations you get, you may want to give a prize every time or only for numbers ending in zero and five. Remember that if you have alcoholic prizes, only over 18s can play, but you could run a child-friendly version too. Charge 50p-£1 per ticket depending on your prizes.
Set up three plastic buckets of different sizes in a firing line, with the largest nearest to the player and the smallest furthest away. Give each contestant three shots at throwing a ball so it lands (and stays) in a bucket. Give a prize if they get all three in a bucket, or if they get one in the smallest bucket. Charge 50p for three goes.
Lay a pack of cards out on a table, placing a sweet or chocolate on some and booby prizes or nothing on the rest. Players choose a card from another pack and win whatever is on the identical card on the table.
Chocolate/sweet jar tombola
Ask for donations of chocolates and sweets in the months running up to the fair - this could be via a mufti day. Label the prizes with raffle tickets ending in zero and five, and fill the tombola with all the tickets. The player wins if the number they pull out of the tombola corresponds to a prize.
Sparsely cover the bottom of an empty paddling pool with bars of chocolate. The aim is for players to throw and land a 20p coin on the chocolate to win that bar. Use individual bars to make it harder or larger bars for more of an incentive to play. Set a throwing line to restrict players further.
Place three wooden stakes in the ground and balance a coconut on top of each one. The player has three chances to knock the coconut off using balls or a beanbag. The player can win a coconut if you want to keep it traditional, or colour code the coconuts with a dot underneath representing a prize. Charge 50p for three balls.
Schools are full of crazes, whether they're LEGO cards, football stickers or Pokemon cards - the blind bag nature of these items means kids get left with lots of duplicates. Set up a stall where visitors can come to swap their items. Collect spares beforehand so you can sell them too.
Decorate a jar
Ask pupils to decorate and fill a jam jar. You can give them a theme based on the fair if you wish. Jars could be filled with sweets or toys. Award prizes for best decorated. Sell the jars via a tombola stall, charging 50p a go. Depending on how many jars you have, every ticket could win.
Decorate a fairy door
Fairy doors have become really popular in the last few years, so give your pupils something more unique to decorate at the summer fair. Make basic arch shapes out of cardboard or wood, and supply eco-glitter, paint, beads and pompoms so children can make their doors sparkle.
Egg and spoon
Players carry a fake egg on a decorated spoon around some obstacles which fit in with your theme (e.g. a deck chair for a summer holiday fair) and return to the start without dropping it. Those who succeed win a prize. Charge 20p a go.
Get together with some other committee members into the run up to the fair and practice three or four simple designs that you plan to offer on the day. Snazaroo has lots of simple-to-follow guides. Charge 50p-£2 depending on the size and complexity of the designs.
Find the £1
Fill assorted jam jars with tissue paper, with £1 taped inside one of the lids. Ask players to choose the jar they think has the £1 in, charging 20p for one go or £1 for five. If they pick correctly, they win the £1. Tape the £1 into a boring little jar rather than one with a distinctive lid or shape as people will be less likely to pick it. Replace the £1 as necessary.
Guess the teacher
Collect baby photos from staff or take photos of staff members in a summery disguise (think sunglasses, straw hats and Hawaiian shirts). Create an answer form and ask players to fill it in with their guesses. Correct entries are entered into a draw to win a prize. Charge 20p-50p to take part.
Hook a duck
Fill a paddling pool with water and ducks - these need to be the kind with eyelets on their backs and numbers on their bottoms. Players must hook the duck out of the water with a hook on a stick - the number on the bottom dictates their prize.
Human fruit machine
Get three people (children or adults) to don a grocer's apron, complete with a big pocket at the front. Get together three types of fruit - bananas, oranges, apples, kiwis etc. - and give your grocers one of each type to put in their pockets. Standing in a row, at the same time the grocers all pull a piece of fruit out of their pocket at random. If all three fruits match, the player wins! Make it easier by offering runner-up prizes for two matching fruits.
Float a lemon in a bowl of water and challenge players to balance a 20p on the fruit. If the coin balances, they win £1, but if it falls off they lose their money. Give out their winnings in 20p pieces to tempt them to have another go.
Push lollies into a cardboard box, with some of the lolly sticks coloured with pen, and charge 20p-30p for children to pick one. All players get to keep their lolly, but coloured sticks win another prize.
Print out a map of a desert island and divide it into squares. Pick a winning square where the treasure is hidden. Charge a fee to guess which square it is, taking down a name and class or contact number. At the end of the fair, reveal the winner and award a prize.
Challenge players to spoon as many marbles as they can into the hole on the bottom of a ceramic plant pot in one minute. Award a prize for anyone who achieves over a certain number, or keep a record and award a grand prize at the end. Paint the pot to fit your theme!
Send envelopes home, asking parents to donate between 20p and £1. Punch a hole in each one and pin them to a paper palm tree on the wall. Charge 50p to choose an envelope (pointing at them with a wand to avoid cheating). Top prize is £5, but fill some with sweets and vouchers for other stalls too.
Name the teddy
Source a big cuddly plush toy and display it next to a clipboard with a selection of names. You could ask the school to provide a list of pupils' first names on a numbered spreadsheet - children will often choose a familiar name. Use a website, such as random.org to generate a number to decide the winning name. Announce the winner at the end of your event
Palm tree hoopla
Paint a palm tree onto a large sheet of hardboard, complete with leaves and coconuts, and attach coat hooks to the coconuts. Make the hoops out of bent fabric-covered coat hangers for participants to throw. The higher the hook, the better the prize.
Put a laminated (in case it gets wet) colour picture of something that fits your theme under a fish tank full of water. This could be anything that has a circle the size of a £2 incorporated (with a little room to spare), e.g. a dog with a circular nose. Players drop the coin into the tank. If it lands completely covering the circle, the player doubles their money. No prizes are needed, as winners simply win money back. Provide the stall minder with a towel for when they have to fish the money out.
'Inspired by the popular board game Pie Face, we persuaded teachers to sign up to 15-minute time slots and sold paper plates of squirty cream for 50p each. Children had to stand behind a throwing line so that no one shoved a plate in anyone's face!' Sarah Everson, Secretary, Friends of Halsford Park Primary, East Grinstead, West Sussex (415 pupils)
Pin the tail on the donkey
Paint a tail-less donkey on a sturdy piece of board which will stand up to being outside. Create a fabric tail with a sticky end. Blindfold players and invite them to pin the tail on the right place. Winners are anyone who gets the tail close to the donkey's backside. Charge 20p a go.
'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. We make around £50 each time.' Julie Caines
Invite green-fingered parents and pupils to grow plants to sell in the months running up to the fair, or appeal to your local garden centre. You could also offer buyers the opportunity to paint their own pot, or repot their plant in a pot of their choice. Source wildlife-friendly paint if doing this.
Play your cards right
Lay out a pack of playing cards on a table. Players roll a penny, and if it lands on an even/odd number or a card of a certain colour, they win a prize.
Fill pots with sand, putting a (well wrapped) sweet or small prize in the bottom of a few before they are filled. Players choose a pot and pour it through a colander to reveal whether or not they've won a prize.
Attach around 20 plastic flower pots to a board - you may wish to paint the pots or put them in a certain shape to make it more fun. Put a prize in every 10th pot, then cover all the pots in tissue paper secured with an elastic band. Charge 30p a go for children to punch through the paper. Replace the tissue paper/prize as necessary.
'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!' Sandra McCann
Set up a quoit set and invite pupils to have a go at getting the hoops on the pegs. Who wins a prize is up to you - it could be if they score above a certain number, or if they get a certain amount of hoops onto the pegs successfully. You could even have each peg representing a different prize.
Roll a £1
Place a bottle of something alcoholic in the centre of a table. Challenge adults to roll a £1 coin as close to it as possible. Measure their attempt, take their details and announce the closest player as the winner at the end of the fair.
Children can layer up coloured sand in a vessel of their choice to create a summery souvenir. To keep costs down, collect pretty jars in the months before the fair. This is particularly good done straight after Christmas when lots of gifts come in attractive jars.
Soak the teacher
(Nicely!) ask teachers to either stand behind a cardboard cut-out or be put in the stocks so they can be sponged by the pupils. In the run up to your fair, find out who's willing to do it and create a rota, with your most prominent volunteer (the head, perhaps) as the culmination of day. Charge 50p-£1 for three sponges.
Fill a paddling pool with sand. Hide shells in your mini-beach (not too small so they don't get lost). Children need to find a shell to win a prize. Paint some of the shells gold and offer a bigger prize if they're found.
Make lots of slime (in different colours and types, if you can) for kids to buy. If you want to take it further, turn it into an activity - kids can come for a slime workshop and make their own to take away.
Hang some socks on a washing line and put small items in each, e.g. a bouncy ball, a coin, a shell. Players guess what's in each sock and the winner is the person who guesses all the items. Pull names out of a hat if there is more than one winner.
Splat the rat
Attach some pipe to a board, drop a toy rat in the top and invite children to 'splat' it with a stick when it comes out the other end! Charge 20p a go, with successful splatters winning a prize.
Source a cabinet with four separate compartments and attach doors to the front of each one. Put prizes in three of the compartments and leave the fourth one empty. If the player picks this door, they get sprayed with silly string or water.
Peg socks on a line and put a toy or sweet in each. Kids can feel (but not look in!) the sock, before choosing one. They get to keep whatever's inside. If you want to make it harder, don't let them feel the socks first.
Tin can alley
Ask for cans in advance of your fair and make sure they have no sharp edges. Pile the cans in pyramids of three, six, etc. and give players beanbags, balls or even a nerf gun to try to knock them off. The more cans knocked down, the better the prize. Paint the cans to fit your theme.
Peg numbered envelopes to a washing line, some filled with prizes, some filled with tokens for other stalls, and some filled with 'try again' slips. Let children choose an envelope, and refill as needed.
Water into wine
A few months in advance of your fair, ask parents to bring in used screw-top wine bottles. Fill them with water, and ask for donations of full wine bottles from local supermarkets or parents. Aim for a ratio of one bottle of wine to five bottles of water. Wrap all the bottles in newspaper, and charge £1 for over 18s to pick a prize.
Bring some tradition to your school field with a welly wang. Corner off an area of grass so you can make sure no visitors fall foul of a flying welly, and invite participants to throw their wellies as far as they can down the course. Record the throws and give a prize at the end to the winner. Alternatively, set a winning length where anyone who reaches it automatically wins a prize.
Wheel of fortune
Ikea sells a wheel of fortune game, (or find a creative parent to make one) which you can decorate however you like. The different triangles can have things like 'win a lolly', 'free spin', or 'not a winner'. Charge 20p-50p per spin.
'We put 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. Make sure you have a clean bowl of water and a towel at the ready for cleaning up.' Paul Compton
Top tips for maximising profits
- By offering a variety of games at your fair, you're guaranteed to keep your audience milling around (and spending their money) for longer.
- Encourage visitors to play more games by having offers for multiple turns, i.e. 50p a go or three for £1.
- Get visitors to stay longer by having a prize stall. Rather than getting a little item after each game, they win tokens which they can then put towards a big item of their choosing. They'll stay around until they have enough tokens for their dream prize!
Do you have any fantastic ideas for summer fair games? Email us now at firstname.lastname@example.org.