Circus/Carnival Party -4yr- Walk the Tightrope
Francine in Pittsburgh PA USA
CIRCUS/CARNIVAL PARTY (four year old) For my daughter's fourth birthday we had a circus/carnival party in the back yard. I found a website where I could print out circus themed invitations for free. I then bought the Barnum and Bailey animal crackers and attached the invitations to the front of the boxes. I hand delivered these to save on postage. We ended up with about ten kids at the party.
For decorations we simply had balloons from the dollar store all around the yard. We hung some triangle flags across the bottom of the deck for the main tent". I made monkeys on a flying trapeze by putting rope though paper towel tubes and hanging them from the deck. I took two stuffed monkeys with velcro hands (which she already had) and hung them from the tubes. On the cake table I took a small red dollar store waste basket turned it upside down and placed a stuffed lion (which again we already had) on top. We rented a commercial pop-corn popper (the kind that sits on a stand with wheels so that it looks like a cart) and placed it in front of the "main tent".
This gave the circus a truly authentic feel and provided the snacks as well. The kids LOVED watching the popcorn being made. I dressed up as the "ring master" with just a white t-shirt vest and party store plastic bowler hat. I made a big baton out of a broomstick with a styrofoam ball attached to the top. (OK I did look a bit goofy but my daughter got a kick out of it.) I found a small plastic bullhorn at the party supply store and that worked out well for getting the kids' attention when I needed it. Since the party was from 1-3 o'clock I kept the food simple: just fresh popped popcorn lemonade birthday cake and ice cream. The bakery copied the clown from the cover of a book we had and put "happy birthday" in balloons. For activities I had many "stations" that the kids could rotate through at will.
They were as follows:
1. Drawing table: just a picnic table covered in roll paper with crayons and markers.
2. Bubbles: I used a big bucket and made my own bubble mix using water dish soap and glycerin. I had several large wands purchased at the dollar store and also splurged on a super bubble wand (with the accompanying book) so we could make GIGANTIC bubbles. (the big bubble maker was too hard for the kids but they loved to watch the grownups make the really big bubbles).
3. Tattoos and face paint: I ordered circus tatoos on line and bought a face painting kit at the store. I hired a couple of nine year olds (for just a few dollars each) to help with this part. The tattoos were a big hit.
4. Carnival games. We had four carnival games and the other moms helped at each one. I made "prize tickets" on the computer by cutting and pasting a picture of an elephant typing the word "prize" underneath and printing them out on yellow card stock. (It did take some time to cut them all out). I had the moms hand out the prize tickets (liberally) to the kids when they played the games.
The games themselves were simple and homemade:
PIN THE NOSE ON THE CLOWN: My daughter had a circus picture book with a clown's face on the front. I took it to the local copy center enlarged it (putting paper over where the nose was) and taped it to a piece of foam board I bought at the craft store. I covered this with clear contac paper so it could be used over and over again. The noses were just red cardstock circles with each child's name and a piece of tape on the back. I found a paper blindfold at the dollar store.
THE FROG JUMP: My daughter already had a game where you flip different colored plastic frogs into a container. (I am sure you can order the frogs by themselves on line from companies that sell carnival-type prizes). I took a big bowl filled it with water for the "pond" and cut a lilly pad from a sheet of green "foamie" material from the craft store. The bowl sat on the table ahd the kids had fun trying to flip the frogs onto the lilly pad.
TIN CAN ALLEY: This was the easiest of all. I just took six empty soda cans and stacked them on a wooden standing TV tray table. (I was going to cover them with construction paper and a design to make them look better but I ran out of time). I got a couple of rubber balls from the dollar store and had the kids knock down the cans.
BEAN BAG TOSS: We already had bean bags from another game but rolled up old socks would work just as well. I covered an old box with yellow wrapping paper and cut three circles into it. The kids got a prize ticket if they got any of the bean bags in the holes. After a while the nine year olds I hired switched from face painting and tatoos to making small balloon animals and handing them out to the kids. This was from a kit I bought at the store which included the balloons and a small hand pump. When we were ready to clean the tables off for cake and ice cream I had the kids gather around for a "circus treasure hunt". I re-wrote some of the passages of my daughter's circus book (in rhyme) and had the kids either do something or find something to get the next clue. I copied and cut out pictures from the book and put them on cardstock with my rhymes on the back. This way it seemed more like reading a short story to them since they had a picure to look at.
Here is an example of my attempt at amusing ryhme: HERE COMES THE HORSE INTO THE RING SWIFT AND LITHE AND LEAN MOUNTING HER IN A SINGLE SPRING IS THE GRACEFUL BAREBACK QUEEN SHE SOMERSAULTS AND LANDS IN PLACE THEN JUMPS THROUGH A FIERY HOOP SHE GALLOPS AT A BREATHLESS PACE WHILE DOING A LOOP DE LOOP THIS CIRCUS ACT HAS BROUGHT HER FAME Now all of YOU MUST DO IT TOO SO RIDE THIS HORSE THROUGH THE RING OF FLAME IF YOU WANT TO GET YOUR NEXT CLUE So you get the idea They had to "Walk the tightrope" -(just a rope I put across the yard) find the lion's cage (on the cake table with the next clue hidden underneath) pretend to be a bareback horse rider jumping through a flaming ring (my daughter's stick horse and a hula hoop with tissue paper "flames") and find the monkeys on the flying trapeze (holding the last clue). The last clue sent them back to the tables for cake and ice cream.
After cake and ice cream came the prizes based on the number of tickets they won at the carnival games. I had a variety of dollar store prizes in a large gift bag. The kid with the most tickets got to pick his or her prize first. The prizes were all the same caliber but the kids with more tickets could feel they won something more since they got to pick first and the last kid still got the same kind of prize.
The goodie bags contained some candy circus stickers plastic glasses with a clown nose and small clown bendables. The biggest money item was the rented popcorn popper which was about $100 including the popcorn oil and red and white striped paper bags. "
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