Seeing the elephants eat peanuts and prance around in the ring is one of the highlights of the circus. Put together a simple elephant outfit for your child so he can feel like a part of the action. Dress your child in gray sweatpants and a gray sweatshirt. If your child has a gray hooded sweatshirt or sweater, he can wear that. Make large elephant ears out of matching gray felt, and attach them to the hood or a gray knitted cap. For girls, you can sew the ears onto a plastic headband. Elephant ears should be petal-shaped with drooping ends; if you make them too round, your child might be mistaken for a mouse instead of an elephant.
A full clown costume can be uncomfortable and distracting for your child to wear to the circus; however, he can still wear a clown-like outfit. Ask your child to find his most brightly colored pants and top. These can be patterns or solid colors such as orange, red, yellow or purple. Add a homemade clown neck-ruffle to make the outfit more clownish. You can make this by cutting out C-shaped layers of felt in several bright colors. Sew the inside edge of the felt layers together, and ruffle the outer layers to make a collar. Add a snap button on the back so that your child can wear it easily. Do not sew the ends together. The snap button makes the collar safe and prevents it from being a choking or strangulation hazard if a child gets caught on something. Alternatively, he can wear a brightly colored wig to complete his clown outfit.
The acrobatic skills of the trapeze artist at the circus are sure to have your child clapping with glee and practicing her own cartwheels and jumps the next day. Assemble a trapeze outfit for your child by pairing bright, shiny leggings and a top with a ruffled skirt. Put her hair up in a ballerina bun or sporty pigtails to complete the circus look.
The ringmaster is the director of the circus and leads all the animals as they dance and perform in the ring. Your child can pretend to be the ringmaster by dressing up as one at the circus. All she needs are comfortable dress pants that are black, purple or another dark color and a matching bow tie made out of felt or cloth. Pin the bow tie to her shirt, and top off the outfit with a black felt top hat. You can find top hats in children's sizes at costume stores or make your own with construction paper and felt.
Mark the circumference of the area where you wish to make the circus tent. This might be on your lawn, or it could even be in a gym or large room. Measure from the center of the area to the edge. This is the radius for your circular top. Add 2 feet to the total measurement to allow for an upward slope from the edge to the top of the tent. Multiply the radius times pi, then square the result to get the circumference measurement.
Subtract 4 inches from the width of your fabric. Divide the circumference by the result to get the number of pieces you will need to make the tent. Square the end of the fabric, and place it on a smooth surface. Measure from the cut end of the fabric the length of the radius, plus 2 feet, and mark the edges. Mark the center of the cut edge. Use a snap line to create chalk lines from the center point to the spots marked on the sides of the fabric. Cut out the cone shape, and use it as a pattern to cut the rest of the fabric. Use your original piece as the pattern to maintain size consistency.
French-seam the pieces of the tent together, using alternating colors, but leave the last 3 inches of the tips of the cone unstitched. Fold the points over the grommet, and sew them in place, using heavy thread. Hem the outer edge of the tent top. You can add fringe, other decorations or even sew a strip of Velcro on it so you can add sides or panels of mosquito netting. Sew grommets to the outer edge of the tent top.
Drive a double-headed nail into the top of the 4-by-4-inch by 8-foot board. Use a post hole digger to create a 12-inch deep hole or use a prepared base made from 2-by-4-inch boards to hold the center pole upright. Place the central grommet over the double-headed nail, and lift the pole into position. Weight the base with concrete blocks or sand bags to help it remain upright. Place tent pegs at a 45-degree angle, pointing out, about 2 feet beyond the perimeter of the tent. Tie heavy jute twine to the edge grommets on the tent top, then tie them to the tent pegs.
Things You Will Need
- red fabric
- white fabric
- waterproofing solution
- tape measure
- dressmaker's chalk
- snap line
- 4-by-4-inch by 8 foot board
- 2-by-4 inch boards
- double-headed nail
- regular nails
- sewing machine
- jute cord
- post hole digger
- concrete blocks
- sand bags
- tent pegs
Have at least two adults on hand to put up the tent.
Set up red and white striped open-air tents if the event is outdoors for games or performances. You can also cover any fences with brightly-colored sheets and tie colorful balloons to the fence posts. If the party is indoors, you can drape red and white crepe streamers from the corners of the room to the center to give it a circus tent look. You can also hang streamers from the doorways. Hang vintage circus posters around the room, or along the fence if outdoors. You should have a banner at the entrance that says "The Greatest Show on Earth," or "Welcome to Izzy's Circus," for example.
Plan to have snacks that are typically available at the circus. Serve popcorn out of an old-fashioned popcorn maker. Rent a cotton candy machine and serve a wide variety of flavors. You can also serve hot dogs, animal-shaped crackers and ice cream. You could have a cone-dipping station where the kids can dip their cones halfway in chocolate and sprinkles. Include healthy snacks, too, such as fruit kabobs, using brightly colored fruit and grilled veggie kabobs.
Plan games for the kids related to the circus, such as a race to put on a clown costume. Put the kids into teams, standing in one line. The first person has to run and get the suit, then run back to his team. The second person in line gets the shoes, and so forth. When team members have all the items, they must dress one person fully as a clown to win. For younger kids, bring out a rainbow-colored play parachute or a colorful sheet to play parachute games. Have everyone lift up the parachute and call out a color. The kids wearing that color must walk quickly underneath the parachute and find another spot before it falls back down.
Circus entertainment will really make your event stand out. Hire a clown that can do a wide variety of tricks, such as juggling, magic tricks and silly comedy that will have the kids laughing. You can also hire a balloon artist to make elaborate balloon animals for the kids as well. Other entertainers to have at the circus event include stilt walkers, unicyclists and mimes. Make sure you choose performers that will interact with the kids and encourage audience participation.