Dancing is one of my most powerful weapons against the lack of recess. We dance and everything works better. Yesterday I shared my “Dance Off” technique. Today I want to share my “Dance Circle.”

Dance Circle Instructions

Gather everyone onto the carpet standing on the edge of your circle time carpet or in a circle. Put on some jamming tunes. I have a very specific sequence I build upon:

  • Dance 1: Do what I do. (Teacher leads)  I keep the beat and make a move. Jump, stomp, clap, nod my head, turn around, touch my toes, hands on hips, hands up in the air, squat, stand on tiptoes, etc. I might do an AB pattern of clap, jump, clap, jump. This session is all about teaching the children to echo what the leader is doing. My intention is to build the children's capacity to move their bodies in new ways and to the beat.  I also want everyone doing the same thing. No talking – just dancing.
  • Dance 2:  Follow the Leader (Student leads).  Each child is given the opportunity to make up the dance move we do.  We do it for 30 seconds and the next child does a move.  Each child has the right to pass. My intention is to build the children's confidence in sharing.  They now have a palette of moves.  We are still standing in a circle so no one has too much attention on them.
  • Dance 3Two in the Middle!  (2 Students demonstrate their moves).  This is a departure from the first two sessions.  I call out two names and those students go to the middle of the circle and dance!  They jam out while we cheer them on.  It is electric and children love it!  The moves you will see are stunning!  Warning – Shy children will pass the first few sessions – but eventually – everyone wants to be center stage and dance!  Sometimes we clap as the dancers let loose – sometimes we hoot and holler – it is full blown jamming!
  • Dance 4:  One in the Middle (1 student leads).  This is a return to the follow the leader model.  But this time the leader goes to the middle.  We do what they do.  I have found it takes Dance 3 to open this up.

I use all four methods interchangably depending on what the children need.  It is fun and gets our wiggles out.

Later – I will add color scarves (you can make them cheaply by buying tulle at the fabric store and cutting it).  Each child gets a scarf.   I will call out “Only blue dance!”  “Only Yellow”  “Red girls dance!” and so forth.   We will use the scarves to move above our heads, below, beside, on top (using positional vocabulary).
“Put your scarf on your face.”
Using scarves in dance can be a powerful method of teaching positional words.

Dance provides important skills besides release of energy:

  1.  It teaches rhythm.  Rhythm is an important concept in math and literacy.
  2.  It teaches beat.  Beat is found in nursery rhymes.  It is also used in syllable finding.
  3.  It teaches positional language (math) in a dynamic way.
  4.  It teaches attentive focus.  The children must watch and repeat what the leader has demonstrated.
  5.  It teaches self-control.  Each participant moves their body in a very specific way.
  6.  It provides community building as we celebrate each individual's unique and special dance moves.  All moves are equal.