Circuses and Zoos

One of the downsides to having storytime kits is that sometimes a theme is selected that just doesn’t work. Most of the time it is just that it doesn’t work equally well for toddlers and prescholars, but a occasionally there is a theme that should just be retired never to surface again. Such is my opinion of having Circus as a theme. It didn’t help that I’ve had a cold this week, which made it hard to be as excited as usual. In order to make this work, I did circuses and zoos, or places you can go to see animals and have fun. Most of the finger plays were circus related and we talked about circuses, but I did read two books on zoos and two on circuses (I tried two different ones, changed for the second storytime).


Here are some zoo and circus stories, some of which I used for my circus/zoo storytime:

Circus Family Dog Circus Family Dog, by Andrew Clements, This was an ok story, but the ending falls flat. The kids didn’t seem to understand what was going on.

Olivia Saves the Circus Olivia Saves the Circus, by Ian Falconer, a better book, but not great for preschool storytime.

Circus Shapes (MathStart 1) Circus Shapes, by Stuart J Murphy. A nice toddler tale.

Where's Pup? Where’s Pup? Dayle Dodds, another toddler tale, lots of fun rhyme.

My Heart Is Like a Zoo My Heart is Like a Zoo, by Michael Hall. My heart could also be like a circus, lots of animals and we did different noises and made faces.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee A Sick Day for Amos McGee, Phillip Stead. I LOVE this book, also I was sickish when I read it, so it made sense. Plus really this is a nice quiet book that has lots of lovey details.

Dear Zoo: A Lift-the-Flap Book Dear Zoo, Rod Campbell, bring the zoo to you!

Animal Strike at the Zoo. It's True! Animal Strike at the Zoo, it’s True! by Karma Wilson, this has such a fun rhyme. I wish I’d had it for the storytime, because it does mention a circus.

Never, Ever Shout in a Zoo Never, Ever, Shout in a Zoo, Karma Wilson, another rhyming zoo story.

From Head to Toe From Head to Toe, Eric Carle I used this one recently, it is all kinds of animals and the actions they make and at the end there is a zookeeper.

Baby Tamer Baby Tamer, Marc Teague. I used this one from the Babysitter’s kit (another theme that should be retired), but it features a three ring circus.

So a whole circus of stories! We talked about animals you might see in the circus, what else you might see at the circus, and what you might eat. I found some awesome fingerplays in an old kit from my old job, both were circus/zoo related.

5 popcorns popping in a pan, (dance your fingers on your other hand)
one got hot and he went “BAM!” (clap hands)

4 popcorns popping in a pan…

3 popcorns popping in a pan…

2 popcorns popping in a pan…

1 popcorn popping in a pan…

No popcorns popping in the pan,
but the pan got hot and it went “BAM!”

For the first group, we did a circus parade and pretended to be different animals and creatures in the circus, but by the time I got to the second group I was wiped out! So we did this other finger play, which was also counting down, but still fun:

5 little monkeys swinging on a trapeze,
one fell off and skinned his knees (slap hands on your knees)
mommy called the doctor and the doctor said,
“no more monkeys on the trapeze!”

Just like 5 little monkeys on the bed it counts down until all the monkeys have fallen.

We had a really fun lion mask the kids made at the end, and all the kids went around ROARing.


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