The Laziest DIY At-Home Carnival that My Kids Absolutely Loved


This morning I woke up already crabby about the day. I have work to do, a paper for my graduate program that I don’t want to write, and two little boys to keep entertained all day. I flat out told my husband that I “didn’t feel like doing today”.

After so many months at home, I am getting burnt out on finding ways to have fun. Some days are better than others, but yesterday was not my best and today was on-track to be the same. This morning, I plopped the kids in front of Daniel Tiger while I took our puppy for a walk to clear my head and get a plan for the day. (Don’t worry, my husband was at home). The episode they were watching was all about going to a carnival, so I decided that today, to turn our (mostly my) attitude around, we’d have a carnival. At our house. Using what we had. Of course, my five-year-old and three-year-old were beside themselves with excitement.

Our carnival planning started during breakfast where we all brainstormed games and “rides” that our carnival could have. I thought about things that I could re-purpose throughout our house, and honestly, it was easy to make a whole list of activities. I asked my boys what the name of our carnival should be and they called it the “Great Day Carnival” which was really the perfect name, given the way my day started.

Once we had our list of activities, I asked the boys to tell me how much they thought each game and ride should cost. While I made the signs, the boys sorted out pennies from our coin jar so they would have money to play the games (learning activity #1).

My older son was in charge of creating the “tickets” by writing a “t” on little pieces of paper (learning activity #2). They worked together to set up the “stuffed animal pit” that they would get to jump into, while I got the carnival snack bar ready (popcorn and lemonade).

When the carnival was open, we moved around the house to each activity. Each sign had a number with how many coins they would owe me. So they would have to read the number (learning activity #3) and count out the number of pennies that they would need to pay me to play (learning activity #4).

After they completed each activity, I gave them a color-coded ticket. Red for my older boy and blue for my younger (their favorite colors of course). After completing all of the activities and rides, they turned in their tickets for a prize! The prize was some pop rocks that my husband bought them for the 4th of July. They were beyond excited, and it just happened to be something that we had around the house. Easy. If we wouldn’t have had those, popsicles would have been the prize. Super easy.


  1. Ring Toss (throwing a pool diving ring around five bottles of olive oil, haha).
  2. Throwing balls at a stack of cups to see how many they could knock over.
  3. Water shooter dino knock-down.
  4. Marshmallow on a string. (Put your hands behind your back and try to eat the marshmallow just using your mouth. Always funny!)
  5. The “office chair ride” where I pushed them around the kitchen at rolling desk chairs and spun them around. They laughed their little heads off.

Our carnival from planning to playing lasted from about 8:30 am-12:30 pm and the boys had a BLAST. I was tired and sweaty when it was over, but it was such a fun change of pace for all of us. I’m hoping they always remember the time their mom made a carnival at their house! Plus, they kind of did a little learning today too.

The moral of this story is that there really is so much you can do with stuff around your house. Your kids could care less if it is Pinterest-worthy. They just want to do something different with you that makes all of you laugh and have fun together. I hope this inspires you to have your own carnival, or come up with something out of the ordinary that can make everyone smile for a couple of hours! I promise it doesn’t have to be hard.