Eventually, after interest in making a table top Circus waned, I asked
the children what they wanted to do with it.
Play with it! was the answer.
"Presenting! The flying Elephant!, said A, as he fixed his modeling clay Elephant to the trapeze we had attached to the underside of a shelf. B. exclaimed "And now, the BLASTING OUT FIRE CATAPULT!"
After working so carefully on the elements of the Circus, when it came time to play, the guys mostly used modeling clay, the canon and the trapeze. The Circus is a good example of the kind of project that is fun for a while, but probably isn't rich or a big enough idea for a long, sustained inquiry. However, it was engaging, a bonding experience, and allowed children to practice some skills and learn to use some new media.