When it's time to liven up your preschool classroom, let your students know that the circus is in town. In addition to reading stories and singing songs about the circus, get your class involved with hands-on crafts, games and snacks that bring the circus to life while helping preschoolers practice important skills.
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Help preschoolers bring the largest circus members to life during your circus-themed class by making elephants out of toilet paper rolls and construction paper. Trace or print out the face, ears and trunk of an elephant onto heavy card stock, along with four legs and a tail. Let children colour the elephant parts and cut them out with your assistance, as necessary. Wrap and glue a piece of grey construction paper around the toilet paper roll to create the elephant's body, and glue the coloured elephant head, legs and tail onto the elephant. Preschoolers can use their smaller elephants in dramatic play and even make other animals, if desired.
Paper Plate Lion
Make a special lion craft to use in dramatic play or to hang on display to create your classroom circus menagerie. Give each preschooler a paper plate and let her colour a lion's face onto the smooth centre circle part, helping as necessary. Punch holes all around the outer rim of the plate and tie pieces of red, yellow and orange yarn to create a wild lion's mane. Cut ears out of construction paper and glue them onto the lion's head. You can also help preschoolers cut eye holes out of the face to create a mask for dramatic play.
Hula Hoop Jump
Decorate hula hoops with orange, red and yellow cellophane paper to create flaming hoops for your little lions to jump through. Arrange the hoops in an obstacle course on the floor or hold them a foot or so off the ground while your preschoolers take turns jumping, hopping or climbing through the hoops without getting "burned." Make use of your lion masks if you made them, or just encourage the kids to perform their lion roars as they practice their gross motor and listening skills.
Use balloons to decorate your circus-themed classroom, but first use them to demonstrate the science of air. Fill a few balloons with helium and others with air to demonstrate the different weights and why some balloons float. Attach an air-filled balloon to a party noisemaker (the kind you blow into) to show how air rushing out of the balloon and into the noisemaker has the same effect as blowing into the noisemaker.
Carry the circus theme right into snack time with treats that preschoolers can help prepare. Give each child a small white paper bag to decorate with red marker stripes, then fill it with popcorn. Let preschoolers spread frosting or jam on a rice cake, adding a liquorice string to the bottom to make an edible balloon. For an extra-special treat, give each student a scoop of ice cream or frozen yoghurt with an upside down ice cream cone for a clown hat, then let them decorate it with dried fruit, nuts or colourful candies.
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