School Carnival Reading Activities

Add reading to the traditional balloon pop carnival game.

Carnival reading activities add excitement to a basic school subject. The carnival activities provide a more informal and appealing way for the kids to practice deciphering words and other basic reading concepts. The games are easy to customize for different reading levels so all of the students enjoy the learning process.

1 Cup Toss

Plastic cups serve as the targets for this carnival reading game. Write words on the inside of the cup near the top so the kids can easily see them. Tape or glue the cups to a piece of cardboard so they don't tip over. The kids toss balls into the cups reading the words on the cups as they go. Another option is to write blends and digraphs such as "bl", "ch", "dr" and "sh" inside the cups. The students create a word that starts with the blend in the cup. Track the words by making a class list.

Vocabulary Builder

2 Balloon Pop

Balloon pop games are popular at carnivals. Add a reading aspect to the game by placing a piece of paper inside each balloon. For younger kids, write a sight word on the paper. For older kids, write a sentence or longer passage on the paper. The kids pop the balloons to find the paper. They read the words on the paper to earn the prize for the game.

3 Bingo

Bingo is another classic carnival game. Add a reading twist by placing sight words in the squares on the Bingo grid. Another option is to place titles of books in the squares. Make corresponding cards with the words or titles. Draw one card at a time reading the word or title. The kids cover the corresponding squares on their Bingo cards. The first child to cover an entire row wins that round.

4 Ducks

Floating duck games at carnivals allow the players to select a duck to win a prize. This game adds a reading aspect. Write a word on the bottom of each rubber duck. Sight words for the specific grade level work well. Fill a bucket or sensory table with water and place all of the word ducks in it. The kids pick a duck, turn it over and read the word on the bottom. Reading a correct word earns the child a small prize or points toward a larger prize.

5 Reading Show

Talent shows sometimes occur at carnivals and work well with the reading theme. Each child selects a short book to read at the reading talent show. Encourage the kids to practice using expression in their voices to make the reading more exciting. Another option is to divide the kids into small groups. The group members each read a different section of the story while the other group members act it out.

Based in the Midwest, Shelley Frost has been writing parenting and education articles since 2007. Her experience comes from teaching, tutoring and managing educational after school programs. Frost worked in insurance and software testing before becoming a writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education with a reading endorsement.