Thursday, July 14, 2016

Classroom Circus Party Ideas

Vintage Circus Party for Kids & Parents

A couple of years back, I decided to convert our entire Montessori classroom into a circus party room for our annual party that we throw at the end of the traditional school year. I improvised with whatever random material that I had collected over the years, and I'd say it turned out to be a very special day for both the students and their parents! I was recently reminded of this party while rummaging through old photos, and thought I would share it with anyone into vintage circus themes.

First Things First: Send Out Invites for a Vintage Circus Party, Costumes Welcome!
Give at least a month's heads up for parents to help their kids be part of the show by offering a list of vintage costume ideas. Give them a list of old timey circus performers. I've started a list for you here:

Circus Performers
-Ring Leader
-Strong Man
-Tight rope walker

Get creative and be festive!

How I turned Our Montessori classroom into a Circus Room for One Day

  • Turn the shelves! First off, I turned every shelf backwards, pressed up against the walls so that our school material was out of sight. Any shelves that I could not turn had sheets draped over them. 
  • Warm white holiday lights to brighten the room. We Draped strings of lights on a wall with some tacks, and then we added a white sheet to hang over them like a curtain. This creates a fun soft look that serves as a great backdrop for a photo station. 
  • Sheets and fun fabrics to cover the tables and areas of clutter. Think about the old vintage circuses that were made out of fabric tents, and drape fabrics wherever you can. While we couldn't quite bring a tent into our classroom room, the touch of fabric gave a tent-like feel to the room. 
  • Fortune station for two. Make a fun fortune teller station by throwing a pretty cloth over a round table with two chairs. In the center of this table, I took a thick glass crystal-style candle holder and flipped it upside down. I stuffed a small strand of warm christmas lights inside of the holder and wrapped a soft velvety fabric around the wires. Instead of Tarot cards, I just offered a standard 52-card deck where the kids could match the suits or play a simple card game with mom or dad. Our kids are pretty young- between 2 through 6, so the youngest especially just preferred to play a silly game with a parent at a fancy table with a globe. 
  • Decorative globes throughout. To add more fun sensorial elements for kids, I placed globes in  bowls or candle holders to serve as a stand. I used large sturdy Christmas ornaments, decorative glass blown globes, and water-filled glitter balls to brighten up the classroom. 
  • Hula hoops & dancing ribbons! You've got to add some fun activities to help the kids feel like they are part of the circus, and we find that hoops and ribbons are always a hit! Of course, some of us teachers also had fun dressing up in costume and performing for the kids :-)
  • Random photo corners. I cut diamonds out of craft paper and folded them over a long string to make the triangle banners used for areas to take photos. I found whatever decorative objects I could find to add elements that would make the photos more fun. In the photo above, I made a bench out of a shelf by adding cushions, throw pillows and fabric. Below, I simply added a chair that could be shared with a child. We also had empty frames available for props. There was a spotlight off to the side in the image below to create a more dramatic lighting. Parents loved taking photos with their kids on the last day of school, and they really made use of these simple backdrops. 
  • Costume station: festive fabrics, scarves, shawls, capes, and masks. A piece of unique fabric can be a creative tool for any child. You can get some random yards of fabric from your local fabric store, or see what scarves you have around the house that the kids might enjoy turning into capes, skirts, head dresses, etc. We cut some masquerade masks out of colorful foam sheets as you can see in our top photo. We added sticks to them so that the kids could hold them to their faces. We also happened to have some silly mustache masks to throw in there as well :-)

We added a mirror in the corner for the kids to see themselves in costume.

  • Head in the Hole! If you have an artist on staff, you could paint up a fun circus image for the kids to pop their heads in. I painted this lady on some cardboard and the kids had a blast with it. Search for "head in the hole" on Pinterest for other fun ideas. 

  • Walk the rope! For our little acrobats, we stretched a rope across the floor for them to pretend to walk a tightrope as they practiced balancing.
  • Balls, balloons, foam building blocks, puppets, and anything that allows kids to put on a show! We placed random material over our circle time area rug to allow kids to build and get creative. 
  • Vintage looking accents that set the mood. In the photo above, we found an old chandelier and wrapped twinkle lights around it. Old picture frames and unique objects that look vintage can add so much to the desired mood of your classroom. 

The kids had such a blast!
  • Hang a Play Parachute! Okay, I admit, this is a little ambitious and perhaps a little over the top. If you happen to have a parachute around, this is a project for at least 2 people and some ladders to nail or wire a parachute overhead. I attached long pieces of craft wire to the ends of each handle and tied the craft wire to heavy curtain rods, tops of cabinets, wall hangings, etc. Depending on what you have to work with, you just have to get creative. 
  • Food and Refreshments. Don't forget the popcorn! 

I hope you have been inspired to get creative! If you run into a bind, just count on Pinterest to the rescue! The party ideas are endless... Thanks for reading along!

Angelique Bowman

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