Field Work Friday – The Circus

I’ve been wanting to take our animal-loving kids to the circus for years, so when our local home school group decided to go there for a field trip, there was no way we would miss it.
During the week leading up to our trip, we studied everything about the circus.  The Ringing Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus website is amazing, and since that’s where we were headed, it was the perfect launchpad for our exploration.
We began by reading about the performers in the circus.  Our kids didn’t really understand what a circus is, so they had lots of questions.  As we read their bios and talked about their native country and how long they had been performing, we used circus vocabulary words like ‘ringmaster,’ ‘three ring circus,’ and ‘trapeze.’  They began to understand, finally asking if it was going to be like one of the shows that we saw last year at Disney.  🙂  To help them understand further, we visited YouTube and found short clips of some performers so that they could visualize what each could do.
As the week progressed, we studied the animals in the circus.  We read books about each one, drawing pictures, writing summaries of what we learned, and watching documentaries of some through the Smithsonian Channel app on the Nook.  My Little Man particularly loved this!  Ringling Bros. also has an Elephant Conservation Center in Florida, and we read about that before watching a short documentary, also on their website.  That fascinated my Big Helper.
Soon the big day had arrived!  We headed out bright and early, determined to beat the crowds – and we did!  We were even more excited to learn that our seats were IN THE SECOND ROW!  The motorcycle highwire guy was almost directly over our heads!  What a view!
None of us could wait for the show to start.


Personally, this was one of my favorite acts.  An old-fashioned stunt show, these men and women could do amazing acrobatics on galloping horses.  Their strength, balance, and trust in each other and in their mounts was inspiring to see.  


This troupe of jumping acrobats was pretty neat, too.  How they could use a springboard to jump four people high and land on someone else’s shoulders is beyond me – but they did this and more.


The group of martial arts masters from the Far East fascinated my Little Man, and with good reason.  They were able to bend steel with their chests, snap hard boards swung at their heads, and balance on the tip of a spear – on their chests.  Here, this man jumped through a blazing hoop of knives – with a black hood over his head.  

(Photo courtesy of the amazing Susan B.)

Princess, the tiger on the left, was having a rather grumpy day, making this show quite tense.  I’m glad I wasn’t the one in the ring with her! – but it did make for an exciting show.  I’m not so sure that My Little Man is ready to take up lion taming, however …

(As I’m sure you can tell, this photo was also taken by the amazing Susan B.)

nothing prepared me to my Big Helper’s new fascination with elephants.  She has added working at the Ringling Bros.’ Elephant Conservation Center in Florida as a new career possibility for her future.  I wonder where I can find an elephant for her to ride?

All in all, we loved our trip to the circus and were nowhere ready for the show to end.  The kids are already talking about Ringling Bros.‘ trip to the Triangle next year.  Maybe we’ll be able to go again!

Have you ever taken your kids to the circus?  What did they think?  Do you know where to ride an elephant?

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