The circus came to town! Children were excited to perform for their families on Zoom. It was a grand finalé to a month of learning about animals, what happens behind the scenes in a real circus, and writing circus picture stories.
Here’s why all of these events are important to children:
Children like excitement and adventure, and animals. If I can tap their interests, I have a ready-made foundation for learning. We covered science and nature (what do the animals eat? How do they travel and train to perform?), math (how much rope is needed to put up a circus tent? How many gallons of food do the animals eat?), and geography (where is Japan, Hungary, and Spain, where many of the performers are from?). It is a long list of learning, and a good one. Perseverance and determination is speckled throughout, much like sprinkles on ice cream.
How do I start? With books, of course. The best circus book is “Circus”, by Peter Spier.
It starts at the very beginning, arriving at a site and setting up the circus. Full page color illustrations show children everything, from the circus families in their trailers, to the animals, to practice, and to the circus itself. I love this book!
We also read:
“Circus Family Dog”, by Andrew Clement
“The Farmer and the Clown” trilogy by Maria Frazee
“The Circus Baby”, by Maud & Miska Petersham
We read fact books, too. One of the most interesting facts is about the elephants (no longer in many circuses.) They walked through the towns in the middle of the night, as they were too big to travel with the other animals. Did you know that the circus elephants were the first to cross the Brooklyn Bridge? When the bridge was completed, people didn’t believe it was safe. P.T. Barnum walked 21 elephants over the bridge.
Children wrote picture stories about being in a circus. “If I were in a circus…”
These stories are priceless! Picture stories are empowering, because they are an imprint of the mind, and all the words a child wants to say. Illustrating their story lets the child know how important their words are. The art of illustrating is a great beginning in expressing words and feelings – exactly what children need to do.
We played circus! All the fun and practice was really a step in children feeling good and confident. Play is powerful. When we planned a circus performance for families, this was different, as children picked their own parts and decided what to do. Really. Teachers supported and cheered. The result was empowered children who knocked their socks off. Parents loved it. More importantly, children had a big dose of self confidence and what happens after hard work.
Give children the tools, let them investigate, support their discovery, and there you have Education 101. Throw in sprinkles and you have the love of learning.
So delightful and empowering, Jennie. I loved reading their stories.
Thank you, Norah. We write picture stories three times a year. They are always thoughtful and insightful. I truly believe it’s an important link to reading readiness, plus building self esteem.
I totally agree. It’s what we call language experience stories. I am a great believer in their power.
I like that term! And yes, they have power.
I knew you’d agree. 🙂
I love this activity! It just reminded me that my daughter went to Clown College one summer when she was about 10. She loved it. On the last day, they held a circus for the parents to attend. My mom had made her a fabulous clown costume for the previous Halloween which she wore. She took the neighbours dog along on a leash wearing a matching ruffle around his neck. Together they handed out popcorn on a tray around her neck. So cute. One of her fondest memories.
Aww… what a great memory. I wish Clown College was available to children here. Did that influence your writing in the Amanda Alberta book? Thank you,Darlene.
Until now, I had not thought of including Clown College in any of my books, but what a great idea! I will make a note. In the summer I was always looking for things for my daughter to do as I was working and she got bored so easily. When I saw this advertised, I knew it would be perfect for her. Calgary Parks and Rec always came up with novel ideas.
With the bad guy being the clown in the parade in Alberta, I wondered if Clown College had been in the back of your mind. I guess not at the time, but I’m glad it’s something to think about for future writing. Way to go Calgary Parks and Rec!
so very cute!
A joyful learning experience indeed. You really do enrich their lives, Jennie.
Best wishes, Pete.
Thank you very much, Pete. Best to you.
It must be gratifying to see them all so confident after a long difficult year. It’s a testament to the work you and the other teachers put it. Gppd job, everyone!
It is, Dan. Children need to boost their confidence, and a play performance (where they get to pick the parts) will do just that. Thank you!
This is so.lovely!
Thank you, Ritu. 🥰
“Play is powerful.” That is so very true and the core for children learning. You are precious example of that. Your last two lines say it all.
How did you know the last two lines were my favorites? Thank you, Pam!
I wish every educator — no, every human being — on planet earth could/would read your blog, Jennie!!! What a wonderful learning project!!!
My goodness, thank you so much, Will!
Literacy & Learning! Love it and must share… ❤ xo
Yes, it all comes down to literacy and learning, Thank you, Bette! 🥰
Have a great week, Jennie! 😍
You, too! 💕
Jennie, do you know what a hero you are? I wish the world could sit under your “big tent” of instruction, love, and wisdom. 💛🤗
Aww…that’s so nice. Thank you! 💕
You’re welcome! ❤️🤗
Great fun! (With so many learning opportunities!)
It was really fun! Thanks, Anneli!
Brilliant Jennie, and those pics are adorable!🥰
Thank you, Kim! 🥰
Oh my gosh. What adorable photos and what fun. I love the way your tie it all together, Jennie.
Thanks so much, Diana. It was really fun. See, learning can be fun!
21 elephants across the Brooklyn Bridge to prove its safety? Wow. I’m surprised the city leaders ‘let’ it happen even back then – I mean the clean-up would be kinda a big deal, too!
Hadn’t thought of the clean-up. Ha! The builder knew his bridge was not accepted as safe, and he wanted a showy, grand opening to prove people wrong. It worked!
Jennie, this is a beautiful lesson on how to teach!
Thank you, Charles!
Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
Please read this post! It is a wonderful lesson on how to teach!
Thank you, Charles!
All wonderful, Jennie. Thank you for sharing.
I have never been to the circus, Jennie. It sounds like a lot of fun.
It is quite a spectacle, Robbie. It’s not just for children, so I hope you get to go one day. The boys would love it.
Sounds like wonderful learning!
Thank you, Becky!
You’re SO welcome, Jennie!
You are a master in creating cross-curricular lessons. The great thing about literature is there are books for just about any occasion.
Thank you, Pete! For any teacher who is not sure where to begin a lesson, there are always great books out there.
Children’s needed true path for progress and this activity is very interesting for children’s…
I can only repeat what I’ve said before … EVERY child should have a teacher just like you! You rock, my friend!
That is so nice, Jill. Thank you! 🥰
I want to be in your class!
Your ideas are fantastic, Jennie! I also want to be in your class! 😉 xx Michael
How fun! The stories are so cute, and so are the two kids’ images you shared.
Thanks so much, Deborah!
wow this is education what it should be. This is amazing and such a wonderful idea. I bet they wereexcited to talk and write about it. The problem is childreb are ot taught to have opnions and teach themselves.
You’re exactly right. Thank you.
They are just too cute! 🙂 x
I LOVED the pictures of the kids! Your last paragraph says it all. I also agree with Liz G. I want to be in your class too. If we could just clone you. 😉 I did not know that about the elephants going over the Brooklyn Bridge! Wow! Thanks for being in those children’s world.
You brighten my day, Marlene. Thank you! I wish you could be in my class, too! One of the hardest things for teachers to do is to give children the reins. If teachers could let go and have children plan what to do… but that doesn’t happen. I still have hope, and that’s why I write.
Isn’t that the coolest thing that PT Barnum’s elephants were the first to cross the Brooklyn Bridge?
I am realizing how much I controlled every aspect of my children’s life when they were young. I was a neat freak too so no cooking with me in the kitchen. Too soon old, too late smart. Sigh. I love elephants and PT Barnum was quite the business man.
I controlled my children’s lives, too. I feel badly about that. It took me becoming a teacher to be a better mother. And fortunately they were young when I started teaching. Marlene, you are the only other person who knows that Pennsylvania Dutch (which is really German) expression. Hubby and I say it all the time, except his family pronounces smart ‘schmart’. Yes, PT Barnum was definitely a business man as well as a show man. I really miss that elephants aren’t part of their circus.
Your story makes me long to be a young student in an excellent teacher’s class!
I’m so glad. Thank you!