Spring Fever Lesson Ideas

Now that the weather is changing, the children are getting restless. Yesterday, I aligned my lessons with 3-5 year olds to address this.

Little Seed

One group did “Little Seed” from AlphaBeat.  I set up the activity by first exploring body shapes and level changes.  We also spent a little time on Energy, by doing a live version of “Drumtalk” (also found on AlphaBeat) and talking about the “S” words “Smooth,” “Sharp” and “Shaky.”

Then, we talked about seed shapes, roots and shoots.  See the notes for the Companion Guide on the AlphaBeat page on my website (a download, available in the side bar).  We explored three kinds of seeds and how they fall.  Heavy seeds fall directly down, sharply.  Light, blowing seeds drift down. Maple seeds spiral down.  (I used the vocabulary spiral).  We practiced each of these seed types, chaining the next one on as we learned it.  Then, I asked them to choose their favorite one to use in the dance.

Then I demonstrated the dance with the music and asked them to observe what I did.  Next, they all did it.  Lastly, I divided the group into two and they took turns being ‘audience’ and ‘performer.’

With sufficient front-loading, this is a very satisfying activity.


Another group did the Trees poem from AlphaBeat and following that with “Travelers and the Magic Forest” (also on AB).  As with the seeds exploration, for each new tree we chained on to the sequence.  I kept it simple, combining their ideas (e.g. What does a king wear?  A crown!  What would the king of trees look like?  We made a shape balanced on one leg (child’s idea) with a crown made from two hands (another child’s idea) or showing simple solutions (e.g. an aspen has trembling leaves. Let’s tremble our fingers.) 

Keep drawing out the critical  thinking from the children. (e.g. If a poplar grows up straight and tall, where would you start to show that?  Being high or being low? Low!)


Travelers and the Magic Forest

We did this in four “quadrants” after scattering to self space spots.  I joined each group to help them with the journey through the forest and back home again, and to help them see that traveling “between” the other trees was more fun that just going “around” the whole group (something they are used to from other activities).  It helps when you have other teachers and aides in the room, to anchor different groups.

This could also be done in two groups.  One stays, one goes, and they alternate three times.

Free Dance

Using “Free Dance” from the new Songs for Dancing, I have three students go into the middle of the circle to do their own dance, as everyone on the edge copies.  After everyone has had a turn in the middle, everyone goes in and we all free dance.

This has been a great way to discharge that extra energy,  to build community, and to be personally creative and expressive.

I follow that with “Resting” to bring everyone back to calm and centered focus.


Apples and Oranges

This dance, from Step on the Beat, also helps everyone dance in an exuberant, yet structured fashion.  With the youngest, we don’t even attempt to hold hands and follow the circle line; we just turn around on our own spot during “circle ’round.”  We reverse the rotation the second time.

Then, half the circle is Apples, and follows the leader (the teacher or aide) around the circle line (galloping or skipping) while the Oranges put on their binoculars and watch.

Next time, it’s the Apples’ turn to watch while the Oranges dance.

In the next full rotation, the children follow the circle line in the opposite line of direction (again, lead by you, having moved over to the other side) doing the same or different form of locomotor movement.

Happy Spring Dancing!



March 14, 2012. Seasonal Lessons. 1 comment.

30-minute lesson plans for 3-5 year olds

Music Resources: AlphaBeat, Songs for Dancing, Brain Bop, Step on the Beat
Props and supplies: Tambourine and stick, yoga dots, small traffic cones

Lesson 1 

Concept: Place (Self Space)  and  Social Skills (Listening, Body Control, Taking Turns, Imagining)

Note: Teach Body Shapes for Learning as you need them. (Songs for Dancing p. 55)

  1. Down By The Station – to come to the circle (Songs for Dancing #1)
  2. Welcome Song  (Songs for Dancing  #2)
  3. Listen and Repeat: Our Brains are inside our heads
    Brain Bop Warm Up with music (Brain Bop #1 & 2)
  4. Listen and Repeat: Self Space, Stay in one Spot
    Action Dance (AlphaBeat #10)
  5. Resting (Songs for Dancing  #38)
  6. Review Key ideas (see Listen and Repeat)
  7. Take the train back to the door (either Songs #1 or instrumental only #22)

Lesson 2

Concept: Direction

  1. Down By The Station – to come to the circle (Songs for Dancing #1)
  2. Change Heads/ Everybody Do This (1 set) (Songs for Dancing #4 & 5)
  3. Sodeo (AlphaBeat #1)
    Model Forward, Backward, Side to Side. Grab “up” and “down” telephones to “call the doctor”
    Tip: I think about stopping and I stop. (Use this to model preparing to stop and change directions from moving forward to moving backward, etc.)
  4. Little Birdies (Songs for Dancing #19)
    Model line of direction for flying.
  5. Resting (Songs for Dancing  #38)
  6. Closure

Lesson 3

Concept: Shapes & Body Parts

  1. Down By The Station – to come to the circle (Songs for Dancing #1)
  2. Brain Bop Warm Up (Brain Bop #1 & 2)
  3. Body Shapes Jam (AlphaBeat #8)
    Front-load the rhyming parts extensively. (See downloadable Companion Guide on AlphaBeat page for rhymes)
    Do once sitting, once standing.
  4. Stick Together (Step on the Beat #3)
    First, practice “driving” through the space with a magic dot, dropping the dot on the ground, standing on the dot/jumping on the dot, picking it up and repeating.  Next, everyone starts on their own perfect spot.  Practice sticking parts together to make a shape and traveling in that shape.  Keep this part brief.  Then put on the music.
    Tip: I think about stopping and I stop. (Use this to model transition from traveling to stopping to make shapes)

3. Shape Song (Songs for Dancing #8)   Use visual support downloadable from the CD


Lesson 4

Concept: Energy (Smooth, Sharp, Shaky, Swinging)

  1. Down By The Station – to come to the circle (Songs for Dancing #1)
  2. Change Heads/
    Everybody Do This (2nd set) (Songs for Dancing #6 & 7)
    Twist – March – Yawn/Sleep – Kick
  3. Concept Introduction using letter “S” visual supports
    Sm = Smooth
    Sh = Shaky, Sharp
  4. Popcorn and Melted Butter (Songs for Dancing #16)
    Reflection: When were we smooth?  Sharp?  Shaky?
  5. Imaginary Journey (AlphaBeat #11)
    Reflection: Where did we go?  What did we do when we were there?
    Add two more “S” words.
    Sw = swinging (as we skipped through the meadow, which is a field with flowers and sunshine)
    St = still, stopped, stuck (when we were in ‘sticky glue.’)
  6. Resting/Closure/Reflection

Lesson 5

Concept: Speed – Slow and Fast

  1. Brain Bop Warm Up
  2. Drumtalk (AlphaBeat #7) or live with tambourine and stick
  3. Introduce the concept
  4. Trip to the Zoo (Songs for Dancing #15)
    Show Animal Pictures first (see downloadable visuals).
    Decide on speeds with the children.
    Use cones or dots to divide the space into two lands, slow and fast.
    See DVD for detailed modeling ideas.
  5. Resting
  6. If time: Little Birdies (Songs for Dancing #19)
    Reflect on when Birdies are slow and fast
  7. Closure

Lesson 6
Concept: Locomotor Movement Skills: Galloping and Skipping

  1. Warm Up: AlphaBeat #3-6,  Everybody Do This  or Brain Bop Warm Up
  2. Introduction to galloping (see Songs for Dancing DVD modeling)
  3. Galloping Song (do in two groups, divided into Apples and Oranges) (Songs for Dancing #11)
  4. Do Apples and Oranges (Step on the Beat #1) – with gallop away and back.
  5. Introduction to skipping (see Songs for Dancing DVD modeling)
  6. Skipping Song (whole group activity) (Songs for Dancing #12)
  7. Repeat Apples and Oranges – with skip (and gallop) away and back.
  8. Resting
  9. Review/Closure

March 3, 2012. Tags: , , , . Creative Dance Lesson Plans. 7 comments.

Twenty-minute lessons for Ages 3 – 5

Here is a sequence of five, 20-minute lessons I taught to 3-5 year olds in an Early Childhood setting with approx. 18 children, 1 lead teacher, 1 – 2 assisting teachers and myself.  Creative dance was entirely new to this population.  We worked in an open space, cleared of all supplies, with a circle marked on the floor with gym tape (starting with Lesson 3, for teaching “Sodeo”).  Music Resources: AlphaBeat, Brain Bop, Step on the Beat, Songs for Dancing

Lesson 1 Place

Lesson 2 Warm Up

Lesson 3 Rhythm & Pulse

Lesson 4 Direction

Lesson 5 Direction Part 2



March 2, 2012. Creative Dance Lesson Plans. 1 comment.