The Greatest Showman Unit Study

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After watching The Greatest Showman all I could think about was how fun it would be to turn it into a study on the circus for the kids! While there are tons of fun activities and packets for preschoolers on the circus, I couldn’t find any that were appropriate for elementary level. I spent some time coming up with my own ideas and I wanted to share with you how we turned one of our favorite movies into a unit study! You’ll find more than 30 activities covering math, science, language arts and more in this The Greatest Showman Unit Study!

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I love how the movie gives plenty of opportunity for discussion on following your dreams, how to treat people who are “ different” and making things happen. I also love that it is family friendly, so no one has to worry about strong adult themes or excessive language.

When creating a themed unit study you could just throw in some math worksheets and required reading. Why not make it more fun by working in some details to support and immerse them into the theme? It isn’t that hard to do, you just need to get a little creative with your thinking!

30+ The Greatest Showman Unit Study Activities

Math

  • Use popcorn or peanuts to solve math problems, create patterns, practice skip counting, or  to fill in a graph.

  • Create a timeline on the history of the circus, include things like the birth and death of famous people in the circus.

  • Create word problems based on circus scenarios for your child to solve.

  • Poll friends and family and create a graph on “Favorite animal in the circus” or “ The greatest act in the circus”.

  • Grab some circus themed stickers and use them to decorate a worksheet using whatever math the kids are working on currently, adding a little theme makes even the mundane fun.

Reading/Writing

  • Use circus themed words as your weeks vocabulary and  spelling words : circus, ringmaster, trapeze, elephant, tightrope, jugglers, musician, performer, cannonball, clown, and exhibit should get you started on your way.

  • Insert the above words into THIS crossword puzzle make for your child to find.

  • Read a biography on P.T. Barnum or someone else affiliated with the circus.

  • Write some basic words jumbled up for your child to unscramble and rewrite, for younger children you might include a simple picture as a clue.

  • Take one of the following journaling prompts and complete a paragraph or page:

    • If you could run away and join the circus would you? Why?

    • What do you think it felt like to be one of P/T. Barnum”s curiosities?

    • The elephants were nervous, shifting from foot to foot…

    • As the curtain rose I dashed out into the largest ring….

  • Make a list comparing/contrasting the Greatest showman movie and true facts you researched about  P.T. Barnum.

  • For handwriting practice rewriting the lyrics to your favorite song from the movie in your best handwriting.

  • Write a paragraph (or page depending on ability) about your favorite animal or performer at the circus, aim for perfect punctuation and capitalization.

History/Social Studies

  • Research P.T Barnum, when did the circus begin? What were the first acts in the circus?

  • When and where was popcorn first consumed?

  • Find out where the circus began, or where it traveled in its first year, track and study its first tour.

  • What was the date and location of the last Barnum and Bailey Circus?

  • Research the circus in other cultures, how is it different? The same?

  • Translate some circus words into spanish, make flashcards to help learn them.

Science

  • Choose your favorite circus animal and study it. Create a science board, diorama, or report to share your findings.

  • Where do we get popcorn from? How does it grow?

  • Popcorn and milk experiment-  Fill one glass with popcorn, another of equal size with milk. What do you think will happen if you combine them? Transfer popcorn piece by piece into the milk. Notice how the milk never overflows, how does it do that? What is the science behind it?

  • Elephant toothpaste is a fun foaming science experiment that kids enjoy and goes along perfectly with this theme. There are tons of posts about it on Pinterest.

Art

  • Get outdoors with some sidewalk chalk and draw a big circus scene in the driveway, stretch those arm muscles out and get some fresh air at the same time.

  • Draw your favorite circus animal or performer, use a new medium you haven’t tried like charcoal or oil pastels.

  • Create a circus poster on a piece of poster board based on your family’s special talents.

  • Get or make your own face paint, practice drawing clown faces or beautiful animal faces on each other.

Field Trips and Activities

  • Use pincers/tongs to transfer peanuts or popcorn from one cup to another.

  • Enjoy the movie prior to starting your study , don’t forget the circus themed snacks. We picked up plastic popcorn buckets at Dollar Tree for our air popped corn, added marshmallow circus peanuts, roasted unshelled peanuts, and cotton candy.

  • Create a 3 ring circus in the backyard and perform some daring stunts and tricks (not TOO daring).

  • Watch a circus or visit a circus themed museum in your area.

  • Tape off a tightrope line on the floor, or draw one with chalk outdoors and practice balancing on the line until you can do it with ease.

  • Practice your juggling, first with one, two, then three items (balls are easiest).

  • Play a game of charades and try to guess one anothers animals or circus acts. Before you begin write as many circus related things as you can think of on slips of paper.

Which activity from The Greatest Showman Unit Study are you looking forward to doing with your kids the most?

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