The momstown kids wanted to throw an impromptu party to celebrate the end of the school year. With the recent tightrope walk over Niagara Falls, and all of the circus books we have been reading, it seemed natural to make the party a circus themed event.
Whether, like us, you decide to throw your party at the last minute, or whether you plan it out over the course of a few weeks, a circus theme is easy to pull together with supplies that you probably already have. From crafts, to snacks, to imagination games, to active play activities that build kids' gross motor skills and burn off energy, here is how to do it:
Active Play Activities
Set up stations around your party area, and have kids rotate throughout them, performing different acts at each station. You can tailor your circus activities to the age and skill range of your party goers, but here are some of the activities we enjoyed:
1. Wacky clown Shoe Relay Race: collect a variety of old pairs of adult shoes, and place in two piles. Divide kids into two teams. On go, the first member of each team runs to the pile of shoes, puts two on, and tries to run as fast as she can back to her team to tag the next player. The team that completes the relay first wins.
2. Milk Bottle Toss: Stack a variety of water bottles or aluminum cans on a table. Have kids stand a certain distance back, and throw beanbags at the bottles to see how many they can knock down at a time.
3. Walk the Tightrope: Use masking tape, a skipping rope, or sidewalk chalk to draw a long straight line on the ground. Have kids try to walk along the tightrope without falling off. Make it more challenging by having kids try to balance a bean bag on their heads as they walk. Experiment with whether it is easier to walk holding a stick for balance:
4. Juggle with Scarves: Gather a variety of different silk scarves or lightweight handkerchiefs. Challenge kids to try and juggle with two or three of the scarves. For toddlers, just practice throwing and catching the scarves.
5. Lion Tamer: Have one child hold a hula hoop vertically up off the ground, and have a second child try and jump (climb) through the "ring or fire". If you would like, make it a relay race between two teams.
6. Lion Tamer Variation: Have one child hold the hula hoop vertically up off the ground, as in activity 5. This time, challenge kids to stand a certain distance back and try to throw a stuffed lion (or other stuffed toy) through the hoop.
7. Circus Parade: Have kids form a line. The first child in line chooses a circus character to act out (e.g. walk like a tightrope walker, run like a horse, roar like a lion), and the other kids imitate that activity. After a minute or two, the first child goes to the end of the line, and the next child chooses the activity. Alternately, just gather a variety of shakers, party horns, and other instruments, and have kids march around the room as they play them.
Games and more:
1. Magician: Gather a variety of props such as playing cards, a wand, a top hat, and a cloak. Let kids take turns dressing up in the costume, and trying to perform magic tricks for their friends. Althernately, learn a few yourself and put on a show.
2. Fortune Teller: Cover a table with brightly coloured cloth. Collect a variety of scarves and glittery costume jewellery, and a large ball. Have kids take turns coming up with funny predictions for the future.
3. Pin the Nose on the Clown: Draw (or buy), a large picture of a clown face. Cut a variety of red noses out of construction paper, and place a piece of rolled tape on the back. Blindfold one child at a time, and have him try to stick his paper nose where he thinks the clown nose should be.
4. Face Painting Station: Set out a variety of facepaints. Either have an adult paint designs onto kids' faces, or allow them to experiment on each other. For instructions on how to make your own facepaint, click here.
1. Circus Snack Mix: Set out large bowls of various snack mix ingredients, as well as smaller bowls or paper bags. Allow kids to create their own custom mixes.
2. Fruit Clown Noses:
Strawberry Clown Noses: Wash and hull strawberries. Insert a popsicle stick into the hulled centre of each strawberry.
Watermelon Clown Noses: Slice watermelon (preferably seedless) into slices that are approximately 1/2 inch thick. Use a small circle cookie cutter to cut out clown noses from the watermelon slices, or use a knife to cut the noses out freehand. Insert a popsicle stick into the middle of each slice.
Take lots of pictures with your silly clown noses!
Crafts and Party Favours:
Clown Hats and Egg carton Clown Noses: These are great activities to have set up as party guests arrive. While they are waiting for the circus to official begin, then can get to work on their own clown costumes, and take them home to play with later.
Paper Plate Handprint Clowns: After all of the active play and excitement of the circus activities and snacks, it is nice to have a quieter activity. The paper plate handprint clown craft is simple to set up, easy enough for kids to complete without a large amount of help, and quick to complete.
Circus Snack Goodie Bags: Send kids home with treat bags filled with their own custom Circus Snack Mix. Set out white paper lunch bags, and a variety of markers and crayons. You can also add stickers and other embellishments. Let kids design their own circus themed loot bags, and then fill them with their own snack mix (a great fine motor activity for younger kids) to take home with them.