I didn’t have quite enough children to field a whole soccer team – we’re currently keeping three of our own kids active – but if you add some of our friends’ kids we’ve got enough for two teams. And we don’t own every outdoor sporting set but add our croquet kit to our friends’ badminton setup and others who have portable soccer goals and we’ve got a picnic sports carnival day out the making. All we need now is a clever (and easy) games fixture to see the day run smoothly.


How to fixture a carnival

So this is how the carnival part could work. 12 kids are enough for two teams of six players or three teams of four players. When a few of our friends get together for a BBQ picnic in the park there’s always about that many kids of various ages (plus the big-kid parents)! Assemble the 12 kids into three teams of four players and have three sports or team activities in mind. See if the different families can each bring one activity’s equipment so you don’t have to lug it all.


Let’s say the three activities are soccer, bocce and volleyball, and all the equipment is owned by one of the picnicking families. Use this fun and easy fixture to set up an afternoon filled with activity.


carnival sports cardDownload the 3 Team scorecard here.

Download the 4 Team scorecard here.

Let the games begin

Keep the games relatively short so the spectating team doesn’t become too restless while they wait for their turn. 5-10 minute games will work well. Teams 1 and 2 play each other at a game of soccer (you can use shoes to mark the corners of the playing area). Next up, teams 2 and 3 play their game of soccer. Then to finish the soccer round, teams 1 and 3 play their head to head.


Keeping score

Scoring is still helpful to give the kids a goal to strive for but it doesn't need to be the most important factor. To ensure everyone is getting points on the board, award 2 points for a win and 1 point for a loss. The greatest possible variance between scores after round 1 will be 4 points for two wins versus 2 points for two losses.


Next, move onto head to head team bocce – which can work like normal bocce only the team members all share the number of balls to throw. Choose how many rounds of bocce make a ‘game’. Best of three or five rounds will work well and will always produce a clear winner. Again, a win gets 2 points and a loss gets 1 point.


Appetite for competition

You could break between bocce and volleyball for picnic lunch. By this stage you’re whittling away the hours and keeping the kids active, so they’ve probably worked up an appetite! The leader board could be pulled out to egg on the (healthy) competition. You can also use the downtime to setup the volleyball net.


Final activity, volleyball. The teams can each play the other two once, just as before, earning 2 points for a win and 1 point for a loss. After the three head to head games you will have an overall carnival leader. You might even have a two-way or three-way tie for the lead. If this is the case a deciding round of any of the activities should sort out a clear winner.


It’s about having fun

Alternatively, you could give out bonus points for ‘best display of sportsmanship’ and ‘most spectacular moment’, either to even up the scores or to produce a result. The main goal is for the kids to have a lot of fun with other kids, be challenged, and be active.


Download 3 team or 4 team scorecards or jump back to the #KidsOffCouches Community here.