Activity Quick Finder:

Circus Play

Book: The GIANT Encyclopedia Of Learning Center Activities For Children 3 to 6

Dramatic Play/Pretend & Play/House Corner




The Arts: Dramatic Arts


Gross Motor


3 through 4 Years Old


Large Group

PDF Available


beach umbrella or gazebo on poles
buckets with sand
circus story books
purchased animal face paper plates
hole punch
rhythm instruments
tape or CD with marching music
hula hoops
masking or duct tape
assorted large embroidery hoops
parasol or child-size umbrella
large soft material or beach balls or pompoms


1. Set up poles for a gazebo or a beach umbrella in buckets with sand or in the
ground if outdoors.
2. Select animal paper plates that represent circus animals (elephant, tiger, lion,
seal, horse, and bear). Punch a hole into each side of the paper plate and
attach yarn or string to make a “necklace” to go around a child’s neck.
3. After reading a story and having a discussion about a circus, introduce the
circus props and encourage children to have a circus.
4. Invite the children to select animal necklaces and rhythm instruments and
have a circus parade. Play marching music and encourage children to march
around the room or outdoor play area.
5. Encourage children to pretend to be different circus animals. Another child
can be an “animal trainer” who has the “animals” do tricks, such as moving on
all fours, standing, rolling over, hopping, dancing, trotting, and jumping
through a hoop.
6. Place a strip of duct or masking tape on the floor for “tightrope walkers” to
balance on as they walk with a parasol or umbrella. Challenge them to walk
forward, backward, and sideways.
7. Invite the children to “juggle” large embroidery hoops, twirling them around
their wrists, ankles, or hands.
8. Challenge the children to try to balance beanbags by placing beanbags on
various body parts while twirling, gliding, and galloping. “Seals” can balance
softballs on their noses.
9. Follow up with a group discussion about favorite circus acts.

More Activities to Try