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.
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.
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!