Fantastic jugglers

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By Jean EvansEarly Years consultant and author

Encourage children to become big top performers inventing exciting balancing feats using everyday objects

Juggling dog

Activities in this article:

  1. Stunning stacking tricks
  2. Contrasting colours
  3. Cross-curricular links

1. Stunning stacking tricks

Have fun learning to juggle and balance!

Problem Solving, Reasoning and Numeracy – Numbers as Labels and for Counting

Development matters: Sometimes match number and quantity correctly (30–50 months); Count an irregular arrangement of up to ten objects (40–60+ months).

Early learning goal: Say and use number names in order in familiar contexts.

What you need

Unbreakable brightly coloured beakers and plates; sponge bricks.

What to do

  • Look at web images and videos of circus artists juggling and spinning plates and talk about the difficulties involved in this trick.
  • Explain that you have made up an act involving stacking plastic beakers and plates in a tower and walking carefully around with them. Demonstrate how you do this, starting with a plate and putting an inverted beaker in the centre, then another plate and a beaker. Pause and ask the children how many things they think you will be able to stack before they overbalance. Start again and invite the children to count with you as you build your tower. Try again and see if the number changes.
  • When you have established the best number for an ideal tower, build it and walk around slowly and carefully in front of the children. Take a bow as they applaud your success.
  • Provide children with various plates, beakers and sponge bricks with which they can experiment. Ask them to work with a partner, with one child stacking while the other counts. When the first child has decided on the maximum items to create a well-balanced tower and paraded it around, suggest that they switch places with their partner. Invite them to compare the number of items they each managed to stack: Who managed to stack more/less?
  • Allow time for the pairs to perform their acts while the others applaud. Take photographs to record everyone’s towers – find out who managed to build and carry the highest tower?
  • Extend children’s understanding of balancing with the ‘Balancing Mouse’ online exclusive activity sheet.
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