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"Cirque de Excel" Creates a Fun and Interactive Experience for Students

While students weren’t able to celebrate their final weeks of school in person, the Specials team at Excel Charter Academy ensured that the show would go on! Welcome to Cirque de Excel.

The Specials team, comprised of art, music, physical education, and Spanish, got together and worked to find a way for students and their families to have some fun, be creative, have students use their imagination, and create memorable moments for families as they went into their final weeks of staying at home.

design a circus ticket game

With the technological support of Ryan Winter, middle school dean at Excel, a fun and interactive experience was created and allowed students to create their own circus at home. Students were able to visit a virtual circus tent where they could explore and find each teacher, who displayed various ideas for how to begin creating their own circus.

Toni Nunemaker, music teacher at Excel, explained during an introductory video for students that their circus could be as elaborate or as simple as they wanted them to be. She simply encouraged students to choose one or two ideas and to have fun and try their best!

“When our schools closed and we moved to provide online lessons, I wanted to make sure that my music ideas were all about the family having fun after school lessons were completed,” said Nunemaker. “I realized that many of our parents were looking for things to do with their children that were fun and alleviated the fear and boredom of being stuck in their home while the outside world was in chaos.”

Excel Charter welcome bitmoji

Students could click into each special for different activities. The first slide prompted students to plan their circus! They were able to choose the date and time of their event, along with the activities they wanted. Some of the activities included: indoor ring, lions, high wire act, elephants, food and drinks, balloons, jump ropes, and more.

Next, they clicked on various circus activities, which then took them to a page with resources providing examples of what it would look like at a real-life circus event. This section even included recipes for delicious circus food, including popcorn, corn dogs, and cotton candy, to name a few. 

After students finalized the details of their circus event, they were able to explore the various subjects. Krystal Sherrill, Spanish teacher at Excel, created an experience that was inclusive of all grade levels. Students were tasked to click on whichever slide suited them, young 5s through third grade, fourth and fifth grade, or middle school. Activities ranged from learning new terms, playing games, following directions for circus-themed activities in Spanish, and more. “All of this is to help you on your way, we hope you have a great time,” said Sherrill. “The Specials teachers are excited to present to you al Circo!”

printable animal masks

Christina Stephenson, art teacher at Excel, invited students to use their artistic and creative abilities to choose from a variety of activities, including designing a ticket, making a circus map, drawing a circus act, creating a poster, and drawing circus food. Yum! The activities were child-friendly by including printable how-to-draw pages, and helpful tips and tricks.​​​​​​​

For the musical component, Nunemaker crafted slides with links to music for students to use during each act. From starting music with the ringmaster, music to play during animal acts, and tunes to play during various acts like clowns, acrobats, high wire, and juggling. Students had it all.

Physical education teacher at Excel, Matt Sicilia, provided students with circus-themed physical activities and games for students to do at home. He suggested at-home versions of carnival-style games like skee ball and bowling, tumbling and basic acrobatics, along with resources on how to learn to juggle, new skills using a hula hoop, jump rope, and a bike, and of course, magic tricks.

Last, but certainly not least, students paid a visit to Emily Ray, art teacher at Excel, who provided students with step-by-step instructions on how to create three different circus-themed art pieces including printable animal masks, paper plate animal masks, and paper “circus treats.”

Students sure hit the jackpot with the Excel Specials team!

About Excel Charter Academy
Excel Charter Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school in Grand Rapids, Michigan, serving students in Young 5s through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes more than 100 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit

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