Ideas for a School Carnival Jail

Updated February 21, 2017

A school carnival is a fun way to bring together students, parents and teachers for a night of fun. Along with games and food, school carnivals often have a "jail" to add in the fun. This type of jail can be run as a special fundraiser project outside of a carnival as well, if done during the lunch hour or as a before- and after-school event. Be imaginative with your carnival jail by giving it a time-period theme.

Have a Theme

Set up your jail. Dress up a sheriff and deputies to create a time-period theme. Easy themes include a wild west jail, complete with cowboy hats and pointed star badges. Sheriffs can rope and tie up the prisoner. Another idea is to have a medieval jail in which case the deputies can wear hoods and dress like the axe-wielding dungeon keeper. With a medieval jail, you can construct collar stocks with pieces of foam and duct tape for the prisoner to wear. You could also use lightweight chains for their wrists. For a more modern theme, have large-sized, orange overalls with a prisoner number stencilled on them and let people wear them over their clothes. Then use toy handcuffs for hauling away the prisoner. The jailers can then dress like police officers.

Add in Warrants and Lawyers

Depending on how elaborate you wish to go, you can even print up advance warrants for arrests. Be sure to leave blank lines for the name of the person who is going to be "arrested" and for the name of the person who is coming to "bail" her out.

Be sure to include a description of the charges, encouraging creative and funny "crimes." Design your warrant to look like a wanted poster of the style that fits your time period, if you have decided to work with a theme. When making the arrest, the sheriff should read the wanted poster (warrant) aloud for the crowd to hear.

You can also host a short hearing for the "criminal." Another student can play the role of defence lawyer. It will be a good test of his argumentative skills to see if he can get his client out of jail without paying the fee. Select members of the audience to act as a jury to determine if the lawyer should win his case. The prosecutor can be another student. The student who paid for his friend to be arrested could play the role of witness.

Use as a Fundraiser

While the carnival jail can simply be for fun, it can also be used as a charity fundraiser. As a fundraiser, the activity could be done during the school day, taking advantage of lunch time. During lunch, students and teachers can be arrested and pay to free themselves. To add to the fun, however, they could be forced to eat their lunch in "jail." A back corner of the lunchroom can be roped off, using some of the tables to form the jail cell. The fundraiser can be for charity or for a school project.

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