Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Auntie Pam's Carnival Games

I've always loved to play games. Any kind of games. Board games, carnival games, yard games. All sorts of games. I've also always loved to make stuff. Especially making stuff out of other stuff - reusing and recycling things. But the trigger was Isaac, really. It'd been happening one too many time, when we were at a funfair or a carnival where there are game stalls, and we would only be willing to buy the family at most $10 worth of tickets and had to ration that between the three kids for them to "play stuff" at the funfair. As you probably know, $10 doesn't get you very far. You could, possibly, at best, play 5 games at $2 a pop. Or more likely only 3 times if each game costs $3. Even $20, or $30, or $50 would honestly be insufficient to sate the appetite of the young ones seeking to play their fill at a funfair. 

We had this conversation once, when Isaac begged us to get more tickets so he could have another try at the game booths. You know, the ones where you invariably get three balls to throw at some target, or three shots with a toy gun, or something like that. 

Isaac:"Please Mummy... one more try..."
Mummy:" Why do you want to play the game?"
Isaac:"Er... because I want to get a prize?"
Mummy:"What prize? Those small toy thingies? Do you really want that?"
Isaac:"No... not really... erm... I just want to play... looks fun..."
Mummy:"You pay $2 and get three tries to throw a ball to try to hit something. If you want to play, I can make many games like that for you and you can play all you like. Without paying a single cent."

In the end we convinced him and the twins to go line up for the Zorb ball experience. Even though it was $5 per head, we convinced them that they would have more fun at trying something like that, than throwing three balls. 

Another time, we gave him some tickets and allowed him to use it any way he wished. He went off, played some carnival games and came back. We asked him if it was worth it, and he agreed and said he now understood what we meant. It also helped that being in primary three now, he has at least two years plus experience of using money. This has helped him have an inkling of the value of money. He realizes that spending his entire daily allowance of $2 to throw three balls, wasn't really worth it. 

I felt bad denying him the fun of playing funfair games though. This innate sense of the need to want to let him have such fun thus provided the impetus that pushed me into action. To turn the thoughts and plans in my head, into real physical things. I started making simple carnival games. 
I wanted to make games out of everyday items we have lying around the house, stuff we would normally throw out. Also, I needed them to be easy to keep, so they had to have a small footprint, or be able to be dismantled. And this was what I came up with in The First Batch of games.

First Batch of Auntie Pam's DIY Funfair Games - Clockwise From Top Left: Shoot for Gold, Ring the Target, Bin It, Basketball, and the standees for Target Practice
Shoot For Gold - I cut plastic milk cartons, shampoo bottles and body soap bottles in half to fill the cardboard box. Players get three or five bottle caps and aim to throw them into the golden coloured bottles. Bottle caps are used instead of balls, so that the game master doesn't have to run after balls. 

Ring the Target - These are just CD spindles, which I duct-taped to make it look brighter. The mini hoops are the luminous light sticks that kids like to wear around their wrists. They don't shine anymore, but that's okay - we just need them as hoops. Players have to aim for the spines and loop the spine! 

Bin It - These bins are the covers of the CD spindles whose spines/bottoms  I used for Ring the Target. I previously used juggling balls (which were not fully round) to throw, but that made the game too difficult as the diameter of the 'ball' was slightly greater than half the diameter of the plastic bin - making it quite a challenging task. Now, we use a set of five-stones. It's like throwing something into the bin, aim for a bin and Bin It! 

Basketball - I added two more hoops (empty duct tape rolls) attached to the box with cable ties.  This one is fairly obvious too eh? Throw the ball into any of the three hoops! This game sits in the box itself, so that the game master for this game would not have to run about picking balls - the balls should drop right into the box itself, making it easy for retrieval.

Target Practice - I had the kidzes help colour in the bad guys in the colouring books we had at home. Cut them out, and pasted them on cardboard. Using scraps of cardboard and making slits in them, these formed the stands for the baddies on cardboard. I had a whole booklet of Thomas & Friends stickers that had lost its stickiness, and so I decided to just glue these on cardboard as well. Tah dah! Target standees for our highly popular shooting game Target Practice! Every time we use them, we make use of whatever chairs or furniture we have available to form the shooting range. The extensiveness of the shooting range would depend on how innovative and creative the Game Master and his assistants are for that day. Just look at the variety below!
Target Practice - Everyone loves the shooting games at a funfair and ours is no exception! The line of kids that forms to play this game is usually the longest!
So, what fun is games without prizes eh? Don't worry, we've got that covered too. I figured we all have loads of stuff at home, right? New stuff, as well as used stuff. One man's trash is another's treasure. And kids always find other children's toys more fun anyway. So we pre-empt all the parents, and ask that they bring stuff from home. Stationery, toys, books, bags, stuff - new or used is fine, as long as the used items are in good condition. And boy did everyone rise to the occasion! Most mums are simply glad to have this opportunity to declutter their homes and bring stuff to donate to the Prize Redemption Booth. We also encourage the kids to give away toys which they no longer play with. It was a great success, just look at our Prize Redemption Booth pix below - filled to the brim with loads of awesome stuff. 

At each carnival game session, we need the parents to volunteer to be Game Masters for each game. Each Game Master would be provided with a "chop" - an inked stamp. Kids would be given sheets of paper. Each time they play a game, depending on how well they fared at the game, they would be awarded chops/stamps by Game Master on their pieces of paper. Collect many chops, then proceed to the Prize Redemption Booth to use your chops to redeem prizes =) 

It was a hit. The kids loved earning the chops, and they loved spending them too. We routinely ask the kidzes if they enjoyed an event we have just been to or an activity we had just done, and why they think so. We do this as we want to understand what they are thinking. For the carnival game sessions, Shawna specifically highlights that she enjoys spending her stamps "shopping for prizes". The boys heartily agree, and we do notice Isaac often spending his chops redeeming items meant for giving to the twins. In fact, we see other kids doing that too - redeeming items for their siblings. Most heartwarming :) 
Play Auntie Pam's Carnival Games, earn stamps, and spend them redeeming your prizes at the Prize Redemption Booth!
My DIY homemade carnival/funfair games was a such a huge hit that our friends started calling me Auntie Ringo - after the once ubiquitous Uncle Ringo professional funfair operator. It was high praise, and I was most pleased. It also inspired me to make more games.

I made the Mazes. Made entirely out of cardboard, white glue, some imagination and lots of estimation. The first maze is the one on the right below, the Three Little Pigs Maze. Players are timed to see how long they take to complete the route. A marble is placed at the Start, you use your hands to tilt the board and guide the marble - the Wolf - to the 1st little pig's home, 2nd pig's home, 3rd pig's home, before going to End to complete the route.

The mazes reminded me of  the Triwizard Tournament Maze in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. And being the huge Harry Potter fans we all are - the next maze is the Harry Potter themed maze! After having the experience of making the Three Little Pigs Maze, I now understood how I can make the maze more difficult to navigate. Thus I set about making a more challenging maze.

In the Harry Potter maze (below, Right), you are Harry Potter (it's a yellow & red marble!), and you begin the race at Start. You have to get to the numbered checkpoints, the last being Checkpoint 7. The checkpoint drawings are illustrated by Artist Asher, as follows:
Checkpoint 1 - Sphinx
Checkpoint 2 - Dementor
Checkpoint 3 - Acromantula (Spider)
Checkpoint 4 - Blast-Ended Skrewt
Checkpoint 5 - TriWizard Cup
Checkpoint 6 - Cemetery
Checkpoint 7 - Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry

It was a pity we did't think to check that the checkpoints monsters were not met by Harry in the same order as they were in the book, but well... I loved the illustrations done by Asher, and I wanted to keep them.
Auntie Pam's DIY cardboard mazes - Harry Potter Maze and Three Little Pigs Maze
The success of our new game - the mazes - inspired the kidzes to invent games too. Thus we started to brainstorm about other carnival games we could make. I was telling them that we had a lot of Throwing games, we had a Shooting game, the mazes were a sort of "Rolling" game... what were we short of? A flicking game, I said! 

The twins caught on, and we started to discuss and brainstorm about the mechanisms and themes their games could take. I challenged Isaac to think of a different game as well. I didn't want to end up with three similar flicking games. Inspired by the real funfair his school had recently, Isaac had the idea to build a small version of a dunking machine.

I had the kidzes draw out on paper their construction plans for their games. One must always have a plan. So it was that we began the long, arduous process of designing and constructing a game. The twins drew the circles, but it was hubbs and I who used the penknife to cut out the circles. They helped with the gluing and made the decisions regarding the theme. Asher and Shawna were completely in charge of the aesthetics of the game though - a truly excellent job they did with that. Much, much better than anything I or the hubbs could have come up with. 
Do-It-Yourself! Make Your Own Carnival/Funfair Games today!!!
We spend the whole of Sunday afternoon doing this, but the kids enjoyed it tremendously, and want to do it again! Read on to learn more about their good work done!

Go Home Kids! by Shawna Tan
The kids are three small balls, who need to get past fast flowing streams and volcanic lava pits to head to the three dark blue holes which are the entrances to the secret underground tunnels which will get them home! (She rejected my theme suggestion of Moles). The marbles have to be placed on the small square depression in the middle of the Start Panel - as Shawna is adamant that you can only flick with fingers on one hand - you cannot use your other hand to hold the marble. The game is trickier than it seems because there is a "drain" depression right at the back of the board, trapping balls and preventing them from bouncing off the back wall into the blue holes. Shawna decides that players who manage to send the kids home will get 3 chops or 5 chops. Generous!

Ant Trap by Asher Tan
Players flick bottle caps and try to enter them into the holes with numbers in them. The numbers indicate the chops you would receive if you manage to flick your bottle cap into those holes. Here, you flick bottle caps which have more friction, and are less forgiving than balls which will roll and possible get somewhere by luck. Players would likely get a minimum result of at least one chop, but the three chops slot is the smallest and is quite tricky to get into. Love the ant hill scenery backdrop, ants and anteaters that Asher has drawn and painted!

Down with Goliath! by Isaac Tan
This is a toy soldier scaled dunking machine!!! The toy soldier is Goliath, and players play the role of David, who uses stones (five stones! ;p) to hit the target, which swings back, causing the other end to swing forward and topple Goliath into the Acid Moat below! This entire contraption was conceived by Isaac. And he did all the decorations himself too.
Carnival Games by the Tan Family Kidzes! Down with Goliath by Isaac. Go Home Kids by Shawna. Ant Trap by Asher. 
The kids can't wait for there to be another Carnival Games Session so that others can get to play their games. Already, they are dreaming of the queues that would form to play their games, and Shawna even asked me if she could choose the adult Game Master to be in charge of her game. The kidzes are already clamouring for another Game-Making session. As Isaac puts it "Building games is painfully slow, but the outcomes are magical!" And what magic the kidzes have done! Beautiful!

So have I inspired you to Make-Your-Own Carnival Games?! :) Try it, it's fun! The kids get to exercise their imagination and hone their STEM skills, and we adults get an exercise in self-control where we have to control ourselves to NOT tell the kids what we think is the "correct" answer and solution to everything - let them think through it themselves! You'd be amazed with what they can do!

So have I convinced you to let your kids make a little mess at home in the process to making something? If I haven't, watch this video on Caine's Arcade! It was what inspired me as well and started me thinking and forming ideas in my head! I love how innovative Caine is and how his story spawned a whole movement - The Imagination Foundation and the Cardboard Challenge! Really awesome stuff.

One challenge I had was that, unlike Caine, I didn't have a whole garage to store the games in. Neither did I want to throw away our hard work and have to remake them every time we wanted to use them.  So I needed to make sure that the games could be kept neatly and stored for repeated use. So I figured that they had to fit into certain cardboard boxes that I had. And so it is, that all the games you saw above, are all stored in the 6 boxes in the pix below.

Tan Family Carnival Games - all kept and ready for the next session!
So get on it and make your own carnival games today! Check out our other Make-Your-Own series posts below!


1 comment:

  1. I love the kid's ideas! Their game themes really make the concept sound super fun...and I laughed when I saw the 'Acid Moat'. Awesome.


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