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Talking Pictures Week 4: Off to the Circus!

Finola Leane, Circus, 1974. Collection Crawford Art Gallery, Cork. © the artist's estate

Talking Pictures for Children 

Talking Pictures is an online resource for children and their adults based on artwork from the Crawford Art Gallery Collection. We will share creative prompts for happy talk and play every Wednesday. 

About the artwork

Finola Leane was an artist from County Limerick. She liked to paint about happy memories.

The circus performers in this painting are balancing on ponies, and the ponies are jumping over hurdles! Look closely: can you find the musicians in this painting? They are playing trumpets and trombones and one has a big bass drum! There is a big crowd of people cheering, but Finola has not used a lot of detail for their faces because they are far away. The ringmaster stands in the middle wearing white gloves and holding a long whip!

Let’s Play!

Imagine that you have joined the circus! 

Imagine that you are a clown.

How would you make people laugh? 

What jokes or movements can you make?

Jot down your ideas and perfect your act.

Put on a show for your family

Use imaginary props or make your own

Make tickets and a poster

Put on a show for your favourite toys or your family

Can you imagine your own circus?

What magic and mayhem, skills, thrills, fantastic feats and extraordinary spectacle can you conjure!

Use imaginary props or make your own

Make tickets and a poster, then put on a show for your favourite toys or your family

Let's Draw

Create your own circus characters 

Will you draw…

acrobats, beautiful ponies with ribbons, spinning plates, stilt walkers, Batman, a tattoo booth, trick cyclists, unicycles or the smallest bicycle in the world, a hair-raising high wire, a troupe of mice, clowns with canons, cowboys, a team of ants, all sorts of animals, or insects in a minuscule circus, skilful jugglers, a trapeze artist on a swing high above the crowd, giant hula hoops, dancers, tiny dogs doing tricks, face painters, a ringmaster or ringmistress in a top hat, drummers and musicians with trumpets, tumblers, a magician, stunts, motorbikes, a circus train, a strong man or woman lifting huge weights?
Hoseplay one


Make a horse from things that you find in your house.  

Your horse could be small: use tinfoil, tear, scrunch, squeeze press into shape (see the photos above and below for inspiration).

No tinfoil? Cut out the shape of a horse from card in the recycling bin, use wooden pegs for legs!

Don’t forget, you can share your own Talking Pictures creations with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag

Hoseplay 2

Let's Move!

Imagine that you are a circus performer riding your beautiful pony!

Canter around in a circle to warm up!

Jump over pretend hurdles!

Jump through large hoops, maybe the hoops are on fire!

Slow down just a little so that you can carefully stand on your ponies back.

You will need to lift your arms in air to keep your balance, try moving like a bird. You might wobble but that is ok!

As you move feel the circus spotlight on your face and listen to the trumpets.

Lift one leg forwards in the air forwards then backwards, then swap legs!

You might do some handstands or cart wheels!

Lift your leg up to your head, you are flying!

Bow as the audience gives you a big cheer!


Emmett Place, Cork, Ireland
T12 TNE6
Tel: 021 480 5042

Opening Hours
N.B. Last entry is 15 minutes before closing

Monday–Saturday 10.00am–5.00pm*
Thursday until 8.00pm

Sundays and Bank Holidays
11.00 am4.00pm

*Second floor closes 15 minutes before closing
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