Today I taught a lesson to Head Start 3 – 5 year olds on locomotor movement (traveling movement). This is my 10th lesson with the children. They have demonstrated competence in body control and concentration, learned about speed, energy, body shapes, direction in space, and successfully moved around the circle line flying as birds (Little Birds from Songs for Dancing).
I felt they would be successful moving alternately, as two groups, with one group watching or dancing on their spot while the other traveled around the circle line. I wanted to teach Apples and Oranges from Step on the Beat and wanted to ‘front-load’ the lesson (that means teach the necessary prerequisite information) to help them take turns traveling by galloping.
I began by showing a picture of a horse and asking how horses moved. After we got the 4-legged demonstrations out of the way, I asked what kind of movement people did that horses do. We finally got to ‘gallop.’ The child who named gallop demonstrated a gallop inside the circle line, as everyone watched. Sometimes the child did it with me, to demonstrate the necessary body control for returning to his home spot, and I used this rhyme, sung to the tune of This is the way we wash our clothes:
One foot leads, the other chases,
As we go to different places.
One foot leads, the other chases,
Then we end on our spot.
Everyone got up, and we did it together. Then I split the circle into two halves.
Using Galloping Song, I lead each group around in one line of direction. We passed behind the seated group waiting to take its turn. I asked the sitters to be in Ready Position (criss cross applesauce), hands in front, so as not to be galloped on by their peers. And when we returned to our spots, body control! (I wouldn’t dream of mentioning baseball slides….otherwise I’d plant the seed of that diabolical idea.)
We then moved to learning Apples and Oranges. First, I named the first group of ‘horses’ as ‘Apples.’ I literally touched each child in that group on the shoulder and said “You’re an apple, and you’re an apple…..” and named the oranges the same way. I checked for understanding by having each group raise their hands when I named their fruit.
Time to learn the dance. I could quickly teach slap and clap, since they already do Clap Along Song (Step On the Beat) regularly. We turned around on our spot, instead of taking hands to travel. Note: This is a super easy way to work. No muss or fuss with holding hands or traveling along the circle line. A great solution to doing this dance with young children. (Further Note: A good solution for Here We Go Round and Round (Songs for Dancing) too. Turn one way on your spot, and the other. Remember to tell your feet to stay when you are done turning!)
Then, I lead the Apples around, galloping in one line of direction, while the Oranges stayed. Next time it was Oranges turn.
On the repeat, we galloped in the opposite line of direction.
Fun and satisfying! Nice to end that session with Resting (Songs for Dancing).
This month I have been working with 3-5 year olds in two Head Start sites.
Our general flow for a 30 minute lesson is:
- Enter to a line; Down By the Station (from Songs for Dancing) First, name each child as a car on the train before you start. Be sure to follow the train car in front of you; this train might curve or make sharp turns. End the train in a circle (floor marked with gym tape, dotted line, for the circle)
- Sit Ready Position. Review the tools we need today: Concentration? Body Control? Imagination? Memory?
- Do an opener (Welcome Song or one set from Everybody Do This (from Songs for Dancing) or Clap Along Song (from Step on the Beat) or Drumtalk (from AlphaBeat) Remember, you can do these with live singing (and/or a drum and stick).
- Do a Warm Up (First 2 tracks from Brain Bop) or Gentle Warm Up from AlphaBeat. I do the warm up without music, too, so I can change the speed at which I teach, and use visual supports to show the ideas. I recommend using Picture Communication Symbols (PECS). Check out Boardmaker software to see what I mean. I worked with a site that printed the images I needed. There are also some downloadable visual supports on the Songs for Dancing CD for 4 of the songs.
- Do 1 – 2 Concept-based activities (see below)
- Resting (see below)
- Transition to end of lesson, including lining up or going to our shoes
Direction (Forward, Backward, Up, Down, Side to Side) Sodeo (AlphaBeat)
Energy (smooth, sharp, shaky) Action Dance (AlphaBeat) and Popcorn & Melted Butter (Songs for Dancing)
Shapes (straight, curved, twisted) Shape Song (Songs for Dancing) – download visual supports from the CD
Body Parts Body Shape Jam (AlphaBeat)
Speed (Fast and Slow) – A Trip to the Zoo (Songs for Dancing) – download visual supports from the CD
I leave 5 minutes at the end to do the instrumental – only Resting track from Songs for Dancing that is 4 minutes long. As the children lie, in the circle or scattered, I take time to give each one a quick adjustment (as modeled on the DVD). I do this with lights off. Then lights go on (or not) and we do a 1,2,3, transition (if we’ve used yoga squares – 1 = stand up with your square, 2 = make a ‘pancake pile’ with the squares, 3 = line up or go to your shoes.
The mood is mellow, the children are calm, and the teachers appreciate the behavior.
I didn’t used to take this time because I didn’t believe the children would settle down for this. Now I know differently and swear by it.