Summer ideas

27/03/13

We know your summer fair is a massive event in your PTA annual calendar.  Here's some ideas to make it extra brilliant.

Queen's nose: get a medium or large fish tank or clear container with an image stuck at the bottom, (or example a picture of a 50 pence piece, a big summer sun or a melting ice cream) and fill with water. Participants drop a coin trying to hit the target/nose and win. Do road test how hard this is, a couple of PTAs have lost money as the target was too big!

Washing line: every child in school decorates an A5 envelope, these are then filled with small goodies such as badges or stickers and a few with vouchers for local indoor play areas or theme park tickets. The envelopes are hung from a washing line and children can come and pick an envelope and find some treasure. At around 50p a go it's a real hit with the kids.

DIY photo booth: get a wallpaper type backdrop with a design you like (check out some ideas here), this can be hung on a wall or frame. Position a camera on a tripod about 2.5 to 3m from your backdrop. Assign a helper to man the photo booth and to be in charge of snapping photos. To make it more fun, prepare some props like a chalk board, empty picture frames, funny wigs, glasses, or hats. You can print and sell on the spot or hook up to a laptop to email photos directly to families.

Human fruit machine: the human fruit machine is simple idea which can be made as simple or as elaborate as you wish.  Syreeta Oakes of Rowans School PTA explains "You have three boxes with lids, four or five different fruits in each box (each box must have the same fruits in though). We charged 50p a pull. The three helpers put their hands in a draw out a fruit, if it matches you win, if not you lose."

Lego model competition: a bucket of Lego and 5 minutes of creativity, a moment of peace and concentration for the kids and an opportunity for parents to queue for their burgers. You can set a theme or ask them to build the best model they can imagine. To save on Lego take photos and announce the winner at the end of the afternoon.

External stalls: with the potential to charge between £10-30 external stalls are a simple way to get some extra cash with little extra effort.  Make sure all third parties have suitable insurance.

Treasure hunt: families exploring the school together. Depending on the size of your site you can either direct children around the school with a series of questions or alternatively hide letters spelling out the name of the school or the theme of your fair and set children the task of finding the letters.

Lucky bucket: a bucket, a volunteer and some sticky labels is all that's required. People get the chance to win a share of the money in the bucket by labelling a pound and dropping it in. At the end of the fair a coin is pulled out and winners announced with a percentage share being kept for the PTA. A roving activity which is a great money earner.

Obstacle course: a brilliant way to make the most of the resources available to you. This can be as hard or as simple as you want, benches, mats can all go to make up a fantastic obstacle course. Make it a competition with fastest time in each year group being recorded for all to see. 

Money, money, money: Gill Jones recommends using vouchers instead of hard cash, "We create our own vouchers just a little credit card sized voucher with 50p a token. Parents pay up front and can have a maximum of £5. Every child is gifted one token from us, which means everyone gets a go on something even if they don't buy anymore. This year we progressed to the credit card printed on sheets. Then whoever was the stall holder just crossed off a token for a go." 

Crepes: thinking of an alternative food stall? Crepes have proved a hit with a number of PTAs. Chocolate, lemon and sugar or banana seem to be the favourite flavours. Top tip prepare a number beforehand to ensure your volunteers don't flip out.

Wild Water Warriors: "This is a big hit at our Summer Fun Day. Cordon off an area of the field. For £1 each child hires a water gun and lets rip for ten minutes either in a team or one for all! Our Head teacher challenges the children to a "fight off" against the staff and parents... always a winner! Lots of wet, wet, wet but happy folk. A reminder is sent out in advance suggesting a towel and change of clothes might be necessary!" Jan Robertshaw,  St Mary's Primary PTA, East Grinstead

Lucky cups: send a plastic cup/jam jar home for the children to fill with goodies, cover the top with tin foil or tissue paper, the cups are then a bit of a surprise for the children buying, a pure profit stall.

The Apprentice: challenge each class or year group in the school to come up with their own stalls and make this into a competition to see which can raise the most money. The kids are bound to get excited and will insist that they attend and bring their parents along as well. All round, this is a sure fire winner.

Nail painting: a sure fire winner with the girls and a nice alternative to face paints. If you are going to do designs/nail art pick some simple ones as it will get busy. Make sure you have parental consent and check out your insurance. 

Get crafty: add to the experience of your summer fair by carefully selecting a few craft ideas for children pay to complete on the day or takeaway as a complete activity to do after the event.  This might be a nice treat for their Mum or a grandparent (for example, a photoframe to be decorated) or if you are holding your fair before Father's Day.

Police/Ambulance/Fire: invite your local emergency services to come and visit your fair. Children love the experience!

Related information: More summer stall ideasA-Z of summer fairsGuide to organising fetes and fairsPTA resources (for free posters).

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