18 April 2023
If you’ve recently attended a circus with your child, they’ve probably been bitten by the circus bug. Why not take the chance to keep the circus spirit going strong by bringing the circus into your own home? Even if your child has never been to a circus, they’re guaranteed to enjoy these creative home activities.
The big top, the flags, the ribbons, the lights, the music, the costumes… Recreate the enchanting setting of the big top tent by hanging rolls of crepe paper from your room’s centre light, taping them to the corners where the wall meets the ceiling and letting them hang down. Mark out the ring with strings or belts before bringing in an audience of teddy volunteers. Your child can have a lot of fun designing their circus. What will the colour scheme be? Will it be a three-ring or single-ring circus? Maybe set up a costume rack, bring a lamp into the big top or set up some torches on the floor to light the stage.
Every circus starts with the ringmaster! Raid the various wardrobes of your home to put together a jazzy, eye-catching costume. A long cardboard tube can be decorated to make the ringmaster’s baton, and a top hat can be fashioned out of card or sugar paper. It’s up to the ringmaster to plan the show, so have plenty of fun writing up showtimes and planning acts.
You might say some children are experts in clowning around. Here’s their chance to channel that energy! Challenge your child to invent a clown routine of their own. Traditionally, clown routines mimic other circus acts, with plenty of slapstick and clumsiness mixed in. Once your child has their routine, use simple makeup to achieve the authentic clown look, with lipstick for red noses and rosy cheeks, and eyeliner for other face decorations (a parent’s oversized shoes can make wonderful clown shoes, too!) Older children could turn this into a project by researching the fascinating history of clowning and deciding which official clown character they might take on.
Start by making a list of all the acrobatic acts you can think of. Grab some sofa cushions, pillows, safe-to-use sticks, balled up socks, long ribbons (or dressing gown cords), and (if you have one) a hoop. Then, see if you can use some of these props to put together versions of the acts you have on your lists. Some ideas might be: juggling (or throwing tricks) with balled up socks, somersaulting and jumping over cushions, firing yourself from a make-believe canon onto a pile of pillows, putting tinsel around the hoop to make a ring of fire, tying a ribbon to a stick for a ribbon wand act, or placing the dressing gown cord on the floor as a tightrope.
You needn’t make a life-sized circus. Why not use your ideas to make one out of the small toys and objects in your house? You can use building-brick toys for acrobatics stages (string can help for the high wire and trapeze), with scarves and other materials for the tents. Use foil to make water (important for the clown act!) and toilet rolls make great cannons (with elastic bands to help fire the poor unsuspecting acrobat). Round off the circus cast with a variety of small toy characters.