Everyone loves the circus, and PreK students are no exception. Before beginning the lesson, be sure to gather all of your materials. The children in your care will have a hard time waiting!
- 1 Sugar cone for each student
- White frosting
- Trix cereal (enough for each student to have approximately 2 cups)
- 1 Red raspberry for each student
- 1 Plastic knife for each student
- 1 Large paper plate for each student
- Chart paper
- Magic Marker
Write the word "circus" at the top of your chart paper. Ask students to share what they know about circuses. List all of their responses.
Spend the next few minutes of the circus lesson plans sharing some read-alouds. Here are several suggestions:
- Circus by Lois Ehler
- Miss Bindergarten Plans a Circus with Kindergarten by Joseph Slate
- If I Ran the Circus by Dr. Seuss
- Curious George Goes to the Circus by Margret Rey
After the stories, ask students to add to the list detailing what they know about the circus. For meaningful connections, try to make certain that each child in the class has shared at least one thing they know about the circus.
Specifically point out that we know circus clowns often wear colorful hats. This prior knowledge will be important when it comes time to make the clown hat snacks!
Teach Pattern Making:
Explain to your students that colorful costumes – like the kind we see at the circus – often incorporate patterns in the form of colors or shapes that repeat themselves. Demonstrate patterning with the Trix cereal. A simple AB pattern is adequate for this age group, although you could certainly extend the circus lesson plans by demonstrating more complicated patterns (ABB, ABC, AABC, and so forth.)
After washing hands, give the students time to practice their own patterning skills with the Trix cereal by providing each student with 2 cups of cereal and a paper plate. The plate’s edges will help keep the cereal from rolling around on your tables, or onto the floor!
Tell your students they will be using their superb pattern-making skills to create a snack for themselves! (Remember…hands have already been washed.) Here is the procedure for the snack making portion of the circus lesson plans:
- Give each student a sugar cone. Ask them to turn their cone upside down. Students should then place the round circle opening of the cone onto the paper plate. (This is a great time to review the names of shapes with your students! The opening is shaped like a circle, and the cone itself is shaped like a triangle.)
- Place a dollop of frosting on each plate, and provide each student with a plastic knife.
- Ask students to gently spread the white frosting over the cone – from top to bottom, so that the cone is covered completely.
- Next, ask students to use their Trix cereal to create a pattern along the bottom circle of the cone – where it rests on the plate.
- Now ask each student to choose 3 more pieces of cereal to use as decoration on the clown’s hat. The pieces can be all the same, or be another pattern.
- Have the students place the 3 additional pieces of cereal on the front of the hat – running from the bottom up to the top.
- Give each student a raspberry, and instruct them to place it at the top point of the hat. If they insert the point into the crater of the berry, you do not run the risk of the berry simply rolling off.
Walk around the room during the activity to be certain students are creating their patterns correctly, and have the correct number of cereal pieces on the front of the hat. Reteach patterns or counting to individuals who are struggling, if necessary. To extend the lesson, ask your more capable students to identify the type of pattern they have created (AB, ABB, AAB, and so forth.)
What is the best part of these circus lesson plans? For preschool students, it will be when you tell them that it is time to eat their creations! Counting and making patterns has never been so much fun. It’s great to spend the day "clowning" around.