Carnival games

Tray ladder

by Fellowship Agency August 8, 2019

Planning a school fair, looking for some fundraising activities or new ways to keep your young people entertained over the summer? Gratnells Learning Rooms has gone carnival crazy to support good causes and engage the community through fun games and STEM activities.

Learning outcomes

You will be able to:

  • Practice your hand eye coordination skills.
  • Count point values up to 10.

You will need:

  • 11 x Shallow Gratnells (F1) tray in a variety of colours
  • 10 x Brightly coloured bean bags
  • 1 x Instruction sheet printable
  • A selection of small prizes of your choosing


  • Place all the trays on the ground in a line.
  • Fill the first tray with the bean bags.
  • Print and laminate (optional) the instruction sheet and cut out and laminate (optional) the tray number labels.
  • Put a number label into each tray, starting with the first empty tray as number 1 through to the furthest tray as number 10.

What to do:

  • Score six or more to win a prize!
  • Standing behind the first tray, throw one bean bag into the nearest empty tray (tray number one), one in to tray number two, and keep going for tray numbers three to ten in order.
  • Get to tray number six to win a prize and tray number ten to make it on to the leader board.
  • If you land in a tray in the wrong order the game is over.

What is happening?

This activity is a simple demonstration of projectile motion. There are several factors (variables) to consider, type of throw (over arm or under arm), height of release, speed of travel (velocity) and accuracy. The force of gravity plays its part and there is air resistance to consider too. The physics becomes even more complex if you’re working outside and it is windy! All of this combines into the physics of trajectories.

It is possible to consider all these factors and experiment practically without an understanding of complex physics equations. Try altering one thing at a time while keeping the other variables constant, make simple comparisons between the results and enjoy experimenting! What do you need to do to make it all the way up to tray number ten?

Other things to try…

  • Alter the points values of the trays e.g. a) number the trays using only even numbers, 2, 4, 6, 8 and so on. b) number the trays using values from the five times table.
  • Set points challenges. e.g. number the trays 1 to 10, challenge participants to throw the minimum number of bean bags possible to score a total points value of 20.
  • Move the trays in to a more difficult ladder, e.g. have a one tray gap between each tray.
  • Change the layout of the trays into a circle or clock face, stand in the centre and work your way around the clock face in order, throwing one bean bag into each tray before moving on.
  • Share photographs of your tray layouts or videos of your successful attempts on social media using #WhatsInMyTray

Health & Safety

As with all Gratnells Learning Rooms What’s In My Tray Activities, you should carry out your own risk assessment prior to undertaking any of the activities or demonstrations.