If I Ran the Circus : Read. Go. Play.
This month's author for The Virtual Book Club for Kids is Dr. Seuss. There are many obvious choices when it comes to Dr. Seuss, however I went with a book that we truly love and that inspires an adventure. I will be sharing a little about the book, the adventure it inspired, and some activities to do at home.
If I Ran the Circus by Dr Seuss
I am not a fan of Dr. Seuss. I know, I know, you are gasping in disbelief. There is a whole month practically devoted to him. But there it is. I am not a fan. Green eggs and Ham does not get me in a tizzy. Honestly, the Grinch is just kind of okay. I do however greatly admire his imagination and his fearlessness when it comes to playing with language. If I Ran The Circus is long and generally leaves me with a sore throat, but it is kind of awesome. It is about a little boy who envisions a circus in an empty lot behind a general store. His imagination is boundless and his ambition grows with each page. Despite the sore throat, it makes for a fun read aloud and I am forever grateful to the sweet family that bestowed this book on our twins for a birthday present because I never in a million years would have picked it off the shelf. Our kids love picking this for reading right before bed, possibly due to its length and their general desire to postpone bedtime. However, it holds their attention and their ability to remember passages that I may or may not attempt to skip in an effort to save my voice is impressive and is undoubtedly evidence of their affection for dear Dr. Seuss. As much as I make fun, this is an enjoyable book. It is full of fantastic ideas and playful language. It is full of the outrageous characters you would expect in a Dr. Seuss book and ultimately, it make you want to go to the circus.
Circuses are not as plentiful as they once were. However, they do still exist here and there and children still delight in their charms. Trains filled with animals? Silly magicians? Dogs riding bikes? Yup. It's fun. Especially when you are a kid. We'll ignore the somewhat terrifying clowns and instead marvel at the amazing trapeze artists.
When we lived in Baraboo, WI we found ourselves in the home of Circus World. Yup, that's a thing. I was skeptical, being generally fearful of clowns and unimpressed by magic, BUT even I found it kind of cool and my kids were in awe. They loved it. They pretended to be elephants. They marveled at the magicians. They thought clowns were funny. They loved when the people rode the elephants. They loved the music. They loved the carousel. So - despite your feelings or fears, take your kiddo to the circus. It's fun. It's a piece of history. And it might just surprise you.
Activity #1: Make Circus Animals
Whether your child delighted at the elephants at the circus or the more fantastical creatures in young Morris McGurk's circus, it is likely they have some ideas floating around in their head about what they have seen. Invite them to make their own creative animals or creatures. We did this in collage fashion. I set out paper, glue, and a tray of collage items. These trays change depending on what I have on hand, but they usually include string or ribbon, paper cut into different sizes and shapes, fabrics or other materials, googly eyes, gems or beads. When our twins came to the table, I invited them to create their own circus animals. I was pretty delighted with the results.
While the first activity was inspired by both the creatures in Dr. Seuss' book and what we saw at the Circus, the next activities focus on the rhyming words of Dr. Seuss. I just recently formally introduced the idea of rhyming words to my twins. We have however been singing rhyming songs, reading poems, and sharing stories with rhyme since they were babies. Dr. Seuss books are excellent for discussing rhymes. Here are a few simple games to begin to practice the idea of rhyming words.
Activity #2: Which Ones Rhyme?
This is a simple way to introduce or review the concept of a rhyming word. Pick three items from around the house. Two that rhyme, one that does not. I picked a spoon, a shoe, and glue. We said the names of each item. They noticed that spoon and shoe started with the same letter or sound. I asked if they ended with the same sound. After saying the words again they realized no. Then we said shoe and glue together and they agreed those ended with the same sound.
Activity #3: Rhyming Pair Cards
You could easily create DIY rhyming picture cards with clip art. I would use either EXCEL or a chart in WORD. Think of some simple rhymes (like hat and cat) add type the word and a picture for each item in a square. Print them out, cut, and laminate. I happened to have these flash cards that were gifted to the twins and they happened to have some rhyming words in the deck so we used those. Here are some ways to play with your rhyming pair cards:
Sensory Dig -
My daughter still delights at sensory play and it is a wonderful way to keep her hands busy while she is learning. I buried the rhyming pair cards in a container with rice, gems, and pompoms. The idea is to dig in the rice pull out the cards and find the matches. 3+
Which One Doesn't Belong? -
You could use the cards much like I did the real objects in the first activity. Pick three cards. Two that rhyme, one that doesn't. Say all three words out loud to listen for the rhyming pair. 4+
Memory Game -
You could line the cards up face down on the floor and take turns flipping them over. Instead of looking for pairs you are looking for rhymes. 5+
If I Ran the Circusby Dr Seuss
Empty Large Container or Sensory Table
3 Items (see activity number 2)
Rhyming Pair Cards (DIY instructions in activity number 3)
Sensory Materials (such as rice, sand, different fabrics)
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