Kick-Off Celebration: Colors of the Circus
The Circus is Coming to Town!
Create a circus train and place book jackets in the cars to entice children to read some favorite books. Add animals and clowns.
Use red, yellow, and white crepe paper streamers to make a “big top” by stringing them across the room from the edges to the center. Tape in place and then place an arrangement of balloons in the center.
Books to Display and Booktalk
- Cam Jansen and the Mystery of the Circus Clown by David Adler.
- Circus Play by Anne Laurel Carter.
- Clowns on Vacation by Nina Laden.
- Dr. Anno's Magical Midnight Circus by Anno.
- Last Night I Dreamed a Circus by Maya Gottfried.
- Moses Goes to the Circus by Isaac Millman.
- P.T. Barnum by David K. Wright.
- When the Circus Came to Town by Polly Horvath.
Provide circus food such as cotton candy, popcorn, lemonade, animal crackers, and peanuts. Use small sample cups, such as those available at Sam’s or other wholesale suppliers, or bathroom size Dixie cups to distribute the snacks.
For small groups, let the children make clown ice cream cones. Provide scoops of ice cream, sugar cones, small candies, such as candy corn, cinnamon dots, licorice, tubes of icing to create a color, etc. Place a scoop of ice cream on a large plastic plate and let children create their own clown.
Play circus music. If you do not have some in the collection, try Circus Music from the Big Top by Merle Evans Circus Band. It includes 30 minutes of standard tunes. Another good collection is Circus Clown Calliope, Vol. 1 and 2.
Chant and Response Song
The Bear in Clown Shoes
(Adapted by Kerri Rake from “The Tale of a Bear,” a traditional song. The music and original lyrics are available at www.niehs.nih.gov/kids/lyrics/beartennis.htm. The leader sings each line of the verses and the children repeat each line. Then all sing the entire verse together.)
The other day
I met a bear,
In clown shoes,
A dandy pair.
All: The other day I met a bear, in clown shoes, a dandy pair.
He said to me,
“Why, thanks a bunch!
For coming here,
To be my lunch!”
All: He said to me, “Why, thanks a bunch! For coming here, to be my lunch!”
Therefore, I ran
Away from there,
But right behind
Me was that bear!
All: Therefore, I ran, away from there, but right behind me was that bear!
Then up ahead,
I saw a tree.
A great big tree,
Oh, goodness me!
All: Then up ahead, I saw a tree. A great big tree, oh, goodness me!
The nearest branch
Was ten feet up.
I’d have to jump
And trust my luck.
All: The nearest branch was ten feet up. I’d have to jump and trust my luck.
And so I jumped
Into the air,
But I missed that branch
Away up there.
All: And so I jumped into the air, but I missed that branch away up there.
Now don’t you fret
Now don’t you frown
‘Cause I caught that branch
On the way back down.
All: Now don’t you fret, now don’t you frown, ‘cause I caught that branch, on the way back down.
The moral of
This story is,
Don’t talk to bears
In clown shoes.
All: The moral of this story is, don’t talk to bears in clown shoes.
That is the end
There is no more.
So what are we
Still singing for?
All: That is the end, there is no more. So what are we still singing for?
The end, the end.
The end, the end.
The end, the end.
The end, THE END!
All: The end, the end. The end, the end. The end, the end. The end, THE END!
Draw and Tell Story
"The Circus" in Tell and Draw Stories by Margaret J. Olson.
Read "Ice Cream Stop" in Falling Up by Shel Silverstein.
Games and Activities
Sing the song "Simon Says" from InFINity by Trout Fishing in America. This action song includes the chorus "You can call him Simple Simon 'cause he's always such a clown, but it won't seem so simple when Simon sits you down." Encourage the kids to perform the appropriate actions.
- Squares of white paper (8 1/2” x 8 1/2”)
- Colored markers or crayons
- Black felt tip pens
Give each child a square of paper. Demonstrate how to make the fortune teller as each child works along with you.
Fold each corner of the paper to the middle. Turn the paper over and fold the corners into the middle once again. Turn the paper over so that you can see the four flaps of paper. Color each flap a different color. Write the name of the color on the flap. Turn the fortune teller over and write numbers 1 through 8 on the triangles. Lift the triangles. Write a fortune on each edge of the triangles. Possibilities include “you'll find money;” “expect to go on a trip;” “you'll meet someone nice;” etc.
To use the fortune teller, children insert their fingers into the bottom flaps so that the colors show on top. They then ask a friend to pick a color. Spell out the color opening and closing the fortune teller for each letter. On the last letter, keep fingers together so that the numbers show. Ask the friend to pick one of the numbers that is showing. Lift the flap and reveal the friend's fortune.
- Thin sheets of white cardboard or heavy white construction paper, at least 18” by 22”
- Glue sticks
- Red, blue, and yellow pompoms
Have each child make a cone out of the white cardboard or construction paper. Tape the sides together to create the cone. Glue three or four pompoms along the side of the cone and one pompom on the top of the cone. Use a hole-punch to put a hole on each side of the hat. Thread yarn to fit comfortably when tied under the child’s chin.
- Colored construction paper
- Markers or crayons
Pre-cut a collar for each child from construction paper. Be sure to leave a hole for their head and cut a slit to open the collar. Let the children decorate their collar with markers, crayons, and geometric shapes. You can prepare some ahead of time or let them cut their own shapes. Punch a hole on each side of the slit and tie a short piece of yarn on each side that can be tied to close the collar.
Paper Bag Clown Puppet
Use the instructions and templates available at www.dltk-kids.com/crafts/circus/mclown.html to let the kids make clown paper bag puppets. If space is limited, or crowds are large, this is a great make-it/take-it craft. Package the pieces and instructions in the paper bag and let the kids take it all home to make.
Invite a professional clown to visit the library. If you do not have funds to pay a clown, check with local service organizations, such as the Shriners, to locate a volunteer.
- “Arthur the Unfunny” on Arthur Makes a Movie. (15 minutes)
- Cannonball. (28 minutes)
- Faroun, The Little Clown. (12 minutes)
Clowns of America International
Texas Clown Association
The Most Excellent Book of How to Be a Clown by Catherine Perkins.