Week Seventy: Circus Bridges


December 12, 2017 by WittyLibrarian

AnimalsinarowProgram Title: Circus Bridges

Target Age Range: Grades 1-2

Program Length: 60 minutes

Brief Description: Learn how to make a bridge that can support 21 circus animals!



Craft sticks

Small toy animals


Cut squares of colored paper

Paper Elephant figures


Glue sticks

Cost: $

Advanced Preparation:

Cut out squares of paper for a mosaic art project, and find a paper elephant figure (either clipart or a die cut) for children to use in an art project.

Program Outline:

  1. Welcome and Introduction
  2. Read Twenty-One Elephants and Still Standing by April Jones Prince. Discuss the book.
  3. Watch What Makes Bridges So Strong? by SciShow Kids to explain the science of bridges
  4. Build a bridge for Elephants, as outlined on Playgroundparkbench.com’s Build a Bridge for 21 Elephants
  5. Mosaic Elephant and Bridge Art Project
  6. End program


bigbridgeThis program was inspired entirely by Playgroundparkbench.com’s Build a Bridge for 21 Elephants. We had the kids use full size cups and big craft sticks to make bridges for 21 small toy animals. We also gave the kids challenges such as building a two-story bridge and build a bridge where each section could only hold two animals.


  • Mosaic Elephant and Bridge Art Project

For this project, we had children design their dream bridges, making the bridge out of paper squares glued to paper. They were also given a paper elephant to place on their bridge.presentorsample

Resources Used:


Twenty-One Elephants and Still Standing by April Jones Prince


What Makes Bridges So Strong? by SciShow Kids

Playgroundparkbench.com’s Build a Bridge for 21 Elephants.

What we would do differently:

twostoriesThis program was simply delightful. The children thoroughly enjoyed building bridge after bridge for their animals. Once a bridge was finished, they immediately demolished it to start again! One thing to note, we did need to explain briefly what a circus was, as most kids were not familiar with them.

Additionally, the children stumped us in the program by asking how much elephants weigh, and, after that, exactly how much weight the bridge held that day when 21 elephants walked across. In case you get stumped by the same question- or want to add a fun math component to the program!-  according to San Diego Zoo Kids, an African Elephant can weigh up to 13,000 pounds. With that number as a base, the Bridge potentially held up to 273,000 pounds!


Adaption for older/younger audience:

lotsofelephantsThis program would work well for a STEAM Storytime, substituting the video for a book about bridges, and with parents helping children design bridges.

We do not recommend this program for Children above 3rd grade. While it is fun, the bridge building would need to be a small component to a larger program. 

One thought on “Week Seventy: Circus Bridges

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