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This month we’ve teamed up with NES Arnold to inspire you with simple activities that will bring the spectacular of the circus into your setting!

Activities in this article:

  1. Get juggling!
  2. Walk the tight rope!
  3. Can you beat the clock?

1. Get juggling!

Beanbag scarves

Physical Development: Improve hand-eye coordination

Personal, Social and Emotional Development: Build self confidence and form good relationships with others

Juggling is such a crowd pleaser and a great way to build the confidence of those in the class who are not so keen on performing. Once they have mastered the art you will soon see their confidence grow, especially when they can support friends who are finding it a bit trickier.

What you need

Three bean bags/scarves per child

What to do

  • Start by throwing a bean bag from one hand to another. Encourage children to move the bag easily through the air from hand to hand in front of them in a figure-of-eight formation.
  • With a ball in each hand, show children how to throw one of the balls towards the other hand in an arc. When the ball reaches the highest point throw the second ball to the empty hand slightly underneath the first one, in a shallower arc.
  • With two balls in one hand and one in the other. Throw the first ball (from the hand with two balls). When the first ball reaches the highest point of its arc throw the next ball (from the hand starting off with one ball) slightly under the first ball. When the second ball reaches the highest point throw the third one and catch the first. At the time the third ball reaches the highest point throw the first ball again and catch the second…

Tip: If your children find juggling balls tricky, and to adapt the activity for younger children, get them to throw scarves in the air to catch and across the room to each other. The children will love creating a visual display and you could play some music to help their performance.


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2. Walk the tight rope!

Children on balancing beams

Physical Development: Improve balance and coordination skills

What you need

Balancing beams

What to do

  • Let children get used to navigating across the beams and developing their poise and balance with this activity. Bring in the performance element by playing dramatic music. Ask children to get dressed up in acrobatic clothing – the more spangles, the better!
  • Stop the music at intervals at which point children must strike a pose and see how long they can balance.

Tip: As they walk along the beams they can pretend to be real circus performers by holding pompoms or ribbon sticks – the more theatrical, the more fun will be had!


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3. Can you beat the clock?

Child on stilts

Physical Development: Develop strength, balance and coordination

What you need

Low stilts and PE apparatus

What to do

  • Create a movement and balance course with various pieces of PE apparatus in your setting for children to complete while wearing pairs of low stilts.
  • Encourage the children to work in teams to build their confidence as they compete against the clock to negotiate the course!

Tip: Play some tribal music and let the children stomp in time with the bongos. Don’t let the circus theme restrict your activities; you can bring in all elements of performance from street entertainment to modern dance!


More ideas!

Try some more great ideas for circus fun activities with the January 2011 issue of Nursery Education PLUS. View all the great features and ideas on our ‘Big top’ theme now!

Nursery Education PLUS January 2011 issue


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Images, words and products from NES Arnold www.nesarnold.co.uk

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