The Greatest Show On Earth: Your Family Circus

Thank you all for the enthusiasm over my Better Connecticut appearance last week.

If you missed it, you can watch the segment here.

THE WINNER OF THE Toddler On-the-Go Package is JENNIFER BENOIT. Congratulations Jennifer!


We’ve had circus on the brain ever since my three year old’s preschool class put on a circus for their end of the year show. Sweet and kid-made, complete with a tightrope walker teetering along a chalk line on the sidewalk, the adorable show inspired our family circus over July 4th weekend.


Top 8 Reasons to Have a Family Circus

1. The circus is magical and engaging.

We’ve read our favorite circus books dozens of times: Sawdust and Spangles: The Amazing Life of W.C. Coup by Ralph Couvert and G. Riley Mills,  Circus Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina and Chris Van Dusen’s The Circus Ship. 

 2. You can fold in literacy activities for some writing and reading practice.

My circus performers loved designing this logo on the website PicMonkey, along with some great handmade signs.

PROGRAM COVER Sunapee Circus

Using the computer was very enticing – the older kids also worked together to type up our program and a loose script.

3. There’s an act for everyone.

The seasoned teachers at my son’s school taught the kids a bit about the circus than encouraged the kids to develop their own acts and jobs.  The older girls made up acrobatic routines on the monkey bars.  My shy little guy proudly braved the playground’s log balance beams, while others served popcorn and collected tickets.

Letting the kids in our family circus (five kids, ages 3 to 6) brainstorm the acts was hilarious. I spread out some props during our “planning session” and the kids quickly came up with this list of acts.

List of Acts

Our List of Acts and Performers

3. Step Right Up…and out of your usual roles.

My older son is quiet at school and less likely to take charge of a group.  Among the cousins, however, he’s the oldest and comfortable and confident with them and his grandparents. He took the reins as ringmaster of our family circus, taking charge of the script and guiding the cousins through joke telling and the acts.  The younger cousins played an important role too, with acts all their own.  And the starlet most used to putting on shows happily shared the stage with her cousins.

family irc us

4. Anything can be a prop.

A hula hoop is great for the lion and lion tamer.  The rest can be improvised with whatever your players dream up.  I gathered some props and costumes from our toy bins (microphones, animal face masks, knight costume) and a few July 4th decorations from the dollars store.  The wig was fun, but wearing Uncle Scott’s giant shoes really completed the clown get-up.

Milo the Magnificent
Blow-up jousts from our inflatable gladiator game become barbells for the strongman.  At the preschool, they used plastic tubes (pool noodle would work) with boxes on each end covered in black construction paper for the same effect.

5. Everyone’s Got A Joke. 

The comedy part of the show was a hit with the actors and audience.
We googled some circus jokes:

Why did the clown go to the doctor?   Because he was feeling a little funny!

Why was the clown sad?  She broke her funny bone!

What kind of a key opens a banana?  A monkey!

Which circus performers can see in the dark?  The acro-bats!

Then there were the more organic jokes.

What do you call melted cheese? Cheese fondue.

What do you call melted fish? Fish fondue.

Knock, knock. Who’s there? Dinosaur. Dinosaur Who? Dinosaur knocking on your shoe.

6. Parents Included. (This is a good thing.)

My husband juggled.

I got to be a horse for the brave knight.

me as horse

7.  Circus Snacks Are Delicious.

You can go traditional (popcorn, cotton candy, peanuts or cracker jacks) or get creative here.  To celebrate my son’s school circus, we made these cute cookies I spotted on a blog called Munchkin Munchies.  The blog also features an adorable circus snack mix.

Photos from Munchkin Munchies


8. It’s all about making memories.

circus close up

Last weekend, nearly a month after our big circus, my kids sought out our still unpacked bag of circus tricks and reenacted the July 4th show.  And the greatest show on earth continues… Noah has asked for a circus party for his 4th birthday.


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  1. caryn kahn says:

    We miss you too! Such a treat to be able to relive our wonderful family circus while reading your blog today. And thank you for being the most creative person I know and guaranteeing lots of fun, for kids and adults alike, every time we are together! Xo

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