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Circus At Home

Clowning Around

Today's focus is all about making people laugh. You're probably thinking of the characters with the red noses and big shoes. But clowning is so much more than that: It takes a lot of skill in acting, athleticism, and empathy. You’ll start with some clowning history to understand the origins of clowning and their presence all over the world, dating back centuries. By the end of the day, you'll be scripting your own jokes and getting gags ready for your big show on Friday.

what you’ll need

  • A computer, tablet, or mobile phone and access to the internet
  • Paper or a sketchbook and colorful scraps of paper
  • An old egg carton
  • Pens, markers, or colored pencils
  • Party hats (or make your own with origami paper)
  • String or elastic
  • White glue
  • Red and white paint
  • A paper plate
  • Miscellaneous art supplies (sequins, pom-poms, whatever you've got!)
  • Miscellaneous household items (pots and pans, a mop or broom, a jump rope, magazines, etc.)



Ask About Today

What are the four rules of clowning? Which one would be hardest for you during a performance? (Spoiler alert: The answers are eye contact, complete silence, no miming, and always say yes.)

Dinner Discussion

Where do we see “clowns” in our world today outside the circus? Can you think of an example from a movie, book, or somewhere else? What makes them a clown? How do you know?

Skip the Ads

Unfortunately, online videos often start with short advertisements. Remind your campers to click the "Skip" button as soon as they can to move ahead to the video.


30-45 minutes

You're officially a clown-in-training, starting...now.


Training as a Clown

Former professional cyclist Michelle Khare has trained with NASA, competed in a Miss USA pageant, and now she's learning how clowning can change your life. Make sure to watch through to the end for Michelle’s first clown performance—will she get a laugh?


Pro Tip: You’ll want to take notes on this one for your show at the end of the week.


Clown Carnival

When you're done, watch this clown carnival to see how a full show comes together.

For younger explorers

More Than Jokes

Clowns do so much more than joke around. Watch these two clowns put on a street show with juggling, tap dancing, and goof-ups you’ll love. Now it’s your turn! Can you practice any of these clown tricks?


45-60 minutes

It is said that a clown becomes a clown as soon as they put on their red nose. Who will you be with your nose on?


Nosing Around

Watch this video on how to make a clown nose, then get to it.


Origami Clown Nose

For an added challenge, try making an origami clown nose. Start by watching Jeremy the Juggler make one.

Learn More

Need Help? Here are some written instructions from Jeremy, too.

For younger explorers

Clown, Jr.

Follow these step-by-step instructions to make your clown costume, but you can also get creative. (Ask a grown-up or a big sib for help if you need it.)


15-45 minutes

Clowning might seem like an invention of modern circuses, but it's actually a centuries-old art form.


Clowns Around Town

People have been clowning around since ancient times—from the indigenous peoples of North America to the taikomochi of Japan and beyond, laughter and play are a huge part of what defines a culture. Take a spin around the globe to learn about the history of clowning. Then ask yourself: Why do we need clowns to clown?


Clowns of South Asia

Clowns have a particularly interesting history in South Asia, where they were more than just jokesters.

For younger explorers

Olivia Saves the Circus

Listen to this read-aloud of Olivia Saves the Circus by Ian Falconer. Do you think Olivia is telling the truth? What parts of the circus does she perform in the story? Do you have a favorite circus act?

For younger explorers

The Circus Procession

Next up, read along with a kid like you who reads The Circus Procession.


30-60 minutes

Time to get clowning.


Obstacle Course at Home

Start with creating an obstacle course—but make it clowny. Turn your home or outdoor space into the most imaginative obstacle course you can think of with physical challenges as well as clown gags! (Think tripping over your own feet, walking into a wall, acting confused about how to use everyday objects...you're the clown, so add your own flair!) Take a look at these ideas to help you get started, but don't be afraid to make it your own.


Stay Safe and Be Kind: You want your obstacle course to have fun physical challenges, but don't hurt yourself—no flipping off couches or tossing little sibs through the air, please. And clean up when you're done so someone else doesn't have to do it!

For younger explorers

Clown In the Mirror

Put yourself in front of a mirror and try using your face to show a range of different emotions. Practice showing happy, sad, surprised, mad, shy, embarrassed, and frustrated. Then challenge yourself and use just your face to express whole statements like "I love you" or "Will you be my friend?" When you've practiced, share your faces with a grown-up or a big sib and have them guess what you're trying to show.


15-30 minutes

Move your body like a circus performer.


Circus Yoga

Inhale, exhale...try these circus-themed yoga poses.


UniverSoul Dance-Along

Ready to turn the volume up? Dance along with this video of UniverSoul Circus’s "Fresh the Clowns." Can you can move like them?


Silly Walks with Monty Python

Clowns don’t always wear noses—or even stage makeup. Sometimes they might move in unexpected ways, too. Watch this clip from “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” a BBC comedy series from the 1960s. What does your "silly walk" look like? Try one out around the house (and don't tell your family what you're doing!).

more to explore

15-30 minutes

Want more clowns in your life? Explore some more!


The Clown Egg Register

Read this preview of The Clown Egg Register by Luke Stephenson and Helen Champion, which includes photos of real clowns imagined as painted eggs. (If that sounds strange...it is.) Each clown has a unique story. What will your clown name be for your show on Friday?