Circus by Lois Ehlert Story Exploration

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Today we’ll be exploring Circus by Lois Ehlert. (Disclaimer: This and other links found within may be affiliate links, of which I will get a small portion of the funds if you buy from Amazon.) 

Circus by Lois Ehlert Discussion Questions/Summary  

Circus is a fun book! Narrated by the ringmaster, it goes through different acts in the circus, giving you a minor circus feel in your own home.

  1. What was your favorite circus act? Why?
  2. If you were in a circus, what job would you want to have?
  3. If you’ve ever been a real circus, it would be great to compare and contrast what you read in the book with what you saw at the real circus.


PBS has a great physics of circuses section that I recommend checking out!


There are ample opportunities to use this book for simple counting. You could count all the acts, you could count the number of people in some of the acts, count all the people all together.

We also used our snack for this unit to practice patterns. Some of the snacks they mention during the intermission are peanuts and popcorn. So Dominic and I used them to practice simple patterns. ABA, ABBA, AAB, etc.

Making Patterns Out of Popcorn and Peanuts

Arts and Crafts

The style of Circus is all in shapes. So, in light of this, we cut out shapes and made pictures with them – circles, squares, rectangles, triangles, etc. I traced a group of shapes for Dominic to cut out and then he could glue them how he desired. I made one as well of a face.

Circus Shape Art


I found this great video of some of the music that you typically hear associated with circuses. It would be great to play this for your child, maybe even in the background as you read Circus, to help give that circus feel while you read in your announcer voice. Listening to this music while blogging really got me in the mood! You could also attempt whistling Twinkle, Twinkle Little Stars, like one of the acts in the book does.


I really struggled to find some circus history that would be approachable to a preschool aged child. It’s not a subject I’m extremely well-versed in enough to tell Dominic some history of on my own, but at the same time, he loves non-fiction right now so I really wanted to include something. I found this book Pictorial History of the American Circus by John and Alice Durant. We looked at some of the pictures in this book – Dominic especially loved the ones of the people jumping over elephants. Now, I will say this though. This is a huge book. It is also a book meant for adults. It goes quite far back in its history and you may not feel it is all appropriate for your child, depending on their age. But there are certainly many interesting pictures in the book and it may be worth your while to peruse the book and bookmark a few pages that you can share with your child.

Field Trip

The field trip option for this is pretty self-explanatory, but if you can, go to a real circus! Or there are circus museums as well – including one right here in Wisconsin.

Gross Motor Game

This is a great opportunity to practice your “circus skills.” Find a 2×4 and use it as a beginner’s balance beam. If your kids are big enough, you could help them build a human pyramid. Miss Eunice leads her marching snakes, so we also took turns pretending to be Miss Eunice and then pretending to be her snakes, slithering on the ground.

Movie/TV Tie-Ins

Netflix has several circus themed shows or episodes available. Toby’s Traveling Circus is a delightful show that you could definitely watch. Of course there is Dumbo. Dumbo was my favorite movie as a child growing up, but watching it as an adult, it is definitely not as innocent as it seemed. Clifford Season 1, episode 9 deals with the circus. Justin Time Season 2, episode 10 (the second half) deals with the circus. Peg + Cat Season 1, episode 4 deals with the circus.

I hope you enjoyed our second story exploration of Circus by Lois EhlertI’d love to hear your ideas for this book or suggestions of other books you’d like to see covered as well! 

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