Circus Small World Play for Preschoolers

I realised recently that I hadn’t set up a tuff spot small world play activity for Monkey for sometime so decided to set one up with a circus theme. I am a big fan of small world play and the more sensory materials that can be squeezed into them the better! As ever I have tried to keep set up time to a minimum. Circus Small World Play for preschoolers What you will need:

  • Lentils and split peas
  • Popcorn
  • Foil
  • Water beads
  • Charger
  • Cardboard – A4 sheets x 11
  • Sharpies
  • Wooden dowels and string
  • Animal figures

Circus Tents from First Palette The wonderful cardboard cut outs came from First Palette, the website also includes instructions on how to put the tents together. They have coloured versions which would save you colouring them in like I did above. I initially intended for Monkey and I to colour in all of the printables together. However he’s not been that well and in the end sat and watched me do it. This did mean it took a lot longer than originally planned to put it together! It probably worked out for the better as I am not sure Sharpies and a 3 year old is a good idea. I chose to use Sharpies because of the water beads. You can find the printables buy following the links below

  • Circus Tents
  • Circus Animals
  • Circus Clowns and Performers

To keep them upright I used some game pieces which had a little slot in them and secured with blueback. If you don’t have something similar then the print outs above also come with stands. Circus Figures from First Palette For the circus ring I used a charger and put the waterbeds on it. This initially worked well as it means that they did not mix with the lentils – as the two will stick together. It could be that you use sand or similar, however Monkey had been asking to play with his water beads for a while. Water beads will need to be soaked overnight before use. Circus Small World Play for preschoolers As out tuff spot is stored outside and knowing Monkey’s love of popcorn I used foil to keep off the surface. We pretended it was the trampoline under the acrobat. The wooden structure we used is from a Spielgaben set. However wooden kebab sticks, string and a bit of play dough to keep it up right would do the trick. Once everything was in place I scattered the lentils and added some model zoo animals. IMG_9644 Monkey enjoyed eating the popcorn, apparently his favourite thing about the whole set up – I must admit it did smell great. We then spent time dividing the water beads into different colours and shovelling the lentils with scooper scissors. The lentils also made great food for the plastic animals. Check out our other small world play ideas below.

I also have a pinterest board specifically for Circus craft and activities for preschoolers Mudpie x



  1. Charlotte
    June 22, 2015 / 7:34 pm

    This is fab! Will have to try this with my daughter. x

    • June 22, 2015 / 7:38 pm

      Thank you 🙂 be great to hear how you get on x

  2. June 23, 2015 / 5:36 am

    I would’ve absolutely loved this as a kid! Will definitely have to make for my own when he’s a little older. #TwinklyTuesday

    • June 24, 2015 / 7:03 am

      Ahh good luck, thank you for popping by 🙂 much appreciated x

  3. Mama
    June 23, 2015 / 5:43 am

    I love the pop up characters idea. I’d never have thought of that and would have limited myself to the toys we had. Thanks for sharing!


    • June 24, 2015 / 7:05 am

      Thanks 🙂 love your cartoons by the way think they are great 🙂 x

      • Mama
        June 24, 2015 / 11:10 am

        Thank you 🙂

  4. June 23, 2015 / 3:46 pm

    Oh wow! I always love seeing your small world play ideas and I think this is my favourite yet. LOVE it. 🙂 #twinklytuesdays

  5. June 24, 2015 / 8:53 pm

    What an amazing activity, I bet her got so much out of it and learn’t so much. I can’t wait to do things like this when Charlotte gets older. #imaginationmatters

    • June 25, 2015 / 5:26 am

      I’m a bit addicted to small world play! Lol! Thank you for taking the time to read x

  6. June 28, 2015 / 9:31 pm

    This is utterly wonderful! Well done. You were far more creative than I was this week. Thanks for linking up to #imaginationmatters, apologies for taking so long to comment and I hope to see you again this week for “In The Garden”

  7. Angela Milnes
    July 3, 2015 / 9:26 am

    Honestly This is such an amazing Idea! I totally love it to bit’s! – Angela xx

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