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  • Writer's pictureLucas Wintercrane

Bristol primary school circus workshop

Another primary school wow day for a school with circus as one of their topics. This time it was Upper Horfield Primary School in Bristol, just up the road from where I live so that was lovely.

School Hall transformed into the Big Top complete with circus performers

The day started in familiar fashion with high energy circus show to get all the children cheering and excited. It never gets boring the way they shuffle in quietly and then as soon as you do something as simple as throwing a ball high in the air, they woop and gasp.

My school circus show involves a brief bit of ball juggling at the start, then I do a hat juggling routine. Which then leads into some great audience participation from Joseph who was in charge of catching the balls in the hat and did a sterling job.

I then move onto a cigar box juggling routine which gets the children clapping along and involves doing a handstand on top of a stack of 2 chairs which draws a collective gasp from the kids. There's a short plate spinning trick with a volunteer and then we're into the finale section. A whizz through various wheeled vehicles from my circus bike with a child on the front, to a ninebot electric unicycle with a child on my shoulders and then finishing off with my unicycle routine, skipping on it and freemounting a 7-foot giraffe unicycle then juggling on it.

Circus tuition and workshop sessions

I was working with Year 3 and 4, as it was only these year groups that had circus as a topic. Which allowed them to have 2 sessions each. In the first session each group was introduced to concepts of balance through the use of peacock feathers, we then moved onto plate spinning and introduced patterns of juggling through scarves and then moving onto balls. It was a crash course and we gave them a great taster of a lot of different skills. Luckily the children were super focussed and really well behaved so we were able to get through loads. In the second session for each class the children had more of a freestyle play. We got flower sticks out, diabols and hat juggling as well as practicing tightrope walking and even having a go at unicycling.

Afternoon assembly show for the whole school

Fresh from their 2 sessions of training and it was time to put them on stage. A chance to show off their skills and some of mine to the whole school. A great opportunity to build confidence and stage presence. The children rose to the occasion fantasticly with some amazing individual efforts. You can never quite tell what will happen in the children's shows with such little time for preparation. But more often than not this can work in our favour and produce moments of spontaneous magic. One such moment this time was an inside tip that one of the pupils was a bit of an acrobat. Towards the end of the show I got him involved in a human pyramid which got a huge round of applause. But after the others took their bow I pulled him back on stage and hinted at doing a dance off. I did a poor forward roll and Rakeem blew the roof off the school by doing a backflip! It was hard to carry on after that but one way to top it is by jumping over the head teacher on my unicycle. Maximum respect to Mr Seddon for being a great sport and I'm sure the children will remember it for many years to come.

Circus Topic ideas for your school

I was afforded a sneak peak at the classroom displays. They are amazingly creative and colourful and it shows what a great topic circus is to study. The children will be studying the music and history of circus, why we don't have animals in circus and a day in the life of a circus performer.

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