Teaching Size and Pathway in the Kinesphere

Last summer I attended a workshop on Language of Dance  with Tina Curran. Also teaching was Frederick Curry, certified in Laban Movement Analysis (which you can Google and find out more about).

Each day of the workshop focused on a different umbrella topic, including body, space, shape and relationships, and effort/dynamics. These concept categories are familiar to me through the work of Anne Green Gilbert. But the view lens and perspective of both LOD and LMA gave me a fresh take on concept teaching.

I’m going to talk about space, and in particular the kinesphere, because – since returning from the workshop – I’ve been exploring this in all my teaching to great effect. Lately I’m teaching children ages 4-10, college-aged students and people over the age of 50. Everyone is responding very positively to the learning.

Why am I so excited? Because sensing ourselves in space is so important.

Here’s what I’d like to share.

The kinesphere is the space around us. I give the image of a ‘hamster ball’ – one of those transparent globes that allow your pet to run around the house without getting away from you. I prefer this image to ‘bubble’ because it’s not as fragile. You can touch the inner surfaces without breaking through.

Within the kinesphere, we can grow and shrink, changing size. ‘Extension’ is the word for stretching and reaching the limbs in all directions. ‘Flexion’ is the word for bending our limbs at the joints, shrinking towards the core. Therefore, ‘extension’ moves us towards ‘big’ and ‘flexion’ towards ‘small’.

As we explore extension and flexion within the kinesphere, staying in one place (standing, sitting in a chair, or sitting on the floor would be options), we create pathways. Reaching directly out from the navel or core, we make direct pathways. This is called moving centrally. Upper and lower limbs can move centrally in all directions, challenging balance. Central pathways are straight, direct and radiate from the core.

Peripheral pathways touch the inner surface of the kinesphere. Movers sweep limbs across the space, in curves, in all directions. Tossing over the top is peripheral movement. Keep the image of touching the kinesphere to encourage big reach, and remind movers of the space behind and below, too.

Transverse pathways cross the midline, passing from one side of the kinesphere to the other, in front and behind the body while remaining in one place. Smaller, intricate movements may appear in this exploration. The pathways can take direct or indirect routes as they cross the midline. Encourage movers to explore all limbs, both upper and lower.

After exploring size and pathway in the kinesphere, take a walk or transition into a warm up and see how your sense of space is affected. How does this change your spatial awareness? Do you move with more volume? Are you aware of all sides and dimensions of yourself in the space, not just the front of the body?

This is a great way to start a movement exploration, and establish a bigger and more dimensional sense of self and others.

 

October 2, 2015. Tags: , , , , , . Elements of Creative Dance, Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance, Studio Teaching, Teaching Tips, Warm Ups. 1 comment.

Phrase Manipulation as a choreographic teaching tool

I teach basic dance technique, composition and improvisation to college students.

At the end of the semester, they work in small groups on a composition study that gives them an opportunity to apply everything they’ve been learning.

Improvisation and creating from ideas or prompts may not generate dances that follow a steady beat.

However, learning how to manipulate phrase material generally does produce movement that has a beat or pulse. It also helps students learn how to include variety and contrast in their dances and how to rework a small amount of material many different ways.

You can give this movement assignment to teach contrast and variety and the B.E.S.T. concepts . Some easy-to-access concepts for phrase manipulation are: direction, speed, level and movement quality (energy)

Begin with a phrase of 4-6 eights. My starter phrase was 5 eights:

1st 8 beats:

Side slide step/hop diagonally, with arms doing a full circle in the line of direction (LOD). Travel on a shallow diagonal so as to progress across the floor. Do right and left.

2nd 8 beats:

Turn to the right, traveling 3 steps and wrapping arms around with right arm behind, leading in a clockwise direction and stepping out on your right. Continue in the same LOD, with left foot crossing behind, turning counterclockwise 3 steps, and wrapping arms around with left arm behind.

3rd 8 beats:

Over 4 beats – Un-spiral from the wrap, to face forward and jab your left arm up to the high right diagonal, crossing the mid-line. Repeat the jab with right across to left on high diagonal.

Over 4 beats – Jump forward three times, legs parallel wide/crossing/ parallel wide.

4th 8 beats:

Repeat the 3rd set, but this time reaching across to the LOW diagonal.

5th 8 beats:

Two walks over 4 beats. Shimmey and travel forward over 2 beats.  Burst out to a shape on count ‘7’ and hold the freeze.

This phrase include direction, level, energy and speed changes.

 

My objective was to have the students learn several choreographic devices for phrase manipulation: canon, transposition and repetition.

Having learned the phrase, we did it in a canon, starting every 8 beats.

Then we broke into small groups, so students could see different ways of blocking the canon.

We experimented with 1) doing the phrase as a flank, starting side by side and going one by one. Then 2) as a single file line, still going one by one.

We played with having the last dancers catch up to the first one’s so the canon did not end predictably.

For transposition, we change the arms to legs and legs to arms from the 3rd and 4th 8s.

For repetition, we played with the material as it existed, expanding some parts.

 

Students then manipulated the material in their own ways. They changed the blocking, speed, size, spatial relationships, as well as playing with direction, level and the devices they’d learned.

This taught them that there are alternatives to unison, and that successive movement and contrast adds interest.

 

This idea is fun to interject into a study that is already in process. Students can use the phrase you learn together and then grow into manipulating their own phrase material. These strategies also expand the language you can use when communicating ideas to dancers and when teaching them what to look for in other performer’s work.

Some of the outcomes were: putting counts to the movement, playing with size, repetition of one motif from the phrase, and having each dancer do a different part from the phrase simultaneously or successively.

May 3, 2015. Tags: . Creating, Elements of Creative Dance, Studio Teaching, Teaching Tips. Leave a comment.

Thoughts on building a sequential movement vocabulary in the elementary music classroom

Q: I want to be more intentional about developing a movement vocabulary in my elementary music classes. Which one of your publications would be best for providing a sequence and some activities for doing this? I have all of your books. I just need guidance on where to start.

A: My books and music include many activities that align to concepts in music and dance. A concept-based approach to teaching is more effective and enduring than an activity-based approach. Students learn specific concept-related vocabulary. Teachers can layer on new concepts and vocabulary from week to week.
You, the teacher, can also REPEAT ACTIVITIES in different lessons THROUGH THE LENS OF A DIFFERENT CONCEPT.

Here is a suggested 9-week sequence, organized by concept, rationale, activities, age-ranges, and source material included.

Note:
I always start with a warm up, which may be my second lesson, having captured their interest with something exciting on the first day.

I use Brain Bop for warm ups. Sometimes, for K-1, I change it out with the warm ups on AlphaBeat or Everybody Do This from Songs for Dancing. For the most part, though, I favor the brain-based sequence (Anne Green Gilbert’s Braindance) found on Brain Bop.

  1. Concept: Place (Self & General Space)
    Rationale: To recognize and learn where we are in space, leaving room between self and others, moving and stopping, and traveling safely. The first lesson should be fun and exciting.Activity Examples:
    Step On the Beat (K -5) Step on the Beat
    Action Dance (K-3) AlphaBeat – self-space emphasis
    Do Your Own Dance (K-2) Songs for Dancing

     

  2. Direction (Up/down, Right and Left, Forwards and Backwards)
    Rationale: To learn how to describe and respond to all directional movement, whether moving in self or general space.

Activity Examples:
Sodeo (K-1) AlphaBeat
Apples and Oranges (K-5) Step on the Beat
Over the Top (3-5) Step on the Beat

 

  1. Level (High, Middle, Low)
    Rationale: To learn how to describe and respond to relative distance from the floor.

Activity Examples:
Hinging (3-5) Step on the Beat
Little Seed (K-2) AlphaBeat
Little Birdies (K) Songs for Dancing

 

  1. Spatial Relationships (Over, Under, Near, Far, Between, Around…..)
    Rationale: To understand our relationship to space, self and others in order to move with more skill and awareness. This also builds the vocabulary of preposition words and teaches positive and negative space.

Activity Examples:
Shape Maker/Shape Explorer (2-5) Step on the Beat
Travelers and the Magic Forest (1-2) AlphaBeat
Stick Together Game (K-5) Step on the Beat

 

  1. Expressive Qualities (Energy, Flow, Force, Weight)
    Rationale: To recognize the difference between smooth, sharp, shaky and swinging movement and explore creative ways of changing between these energies as students move in place and through space.

Activity Examples:
Popcorn and Melted Butter (K-2) Songs for Dancing
Imaginary Journey (K-2) AlphaBeat
Action Dance (K-2) AlphaBeat
Show Your Feelings (K-2) AlphaBeat
Near and Far (K-2) AlphaBeat

 

  1. Rhythm & Speed
    Rationale: To make the connection between the music and dance elements of tempo, pulse and pattern

    Activity Examples:
    Trip to the Zoo (Speed) (K-2) Songs for Dancing
    Flea Song (K) Songs for Dancing
    Everybody Do This (K-2) Songs for Dancing
    Apples and Oranges (K-5) Step on the Beat
    Here We Go Round and Round (K-2) Songs for Dancing
    Walking Song (K-2) Songs for Dancing

 

  1. Parts of the Body
    Rationale: To learn body parts vocabulary and explore creative ways of using parts of the body when moving, making shapes and working with others.

Activity Examples:
Hinging (3-5) Step on the Beat
Stick Together Game (K-5) Step on the Beat
Body Shape Jam (K-3) AlphaBeat
Here We Go Round and Round (K-2) Songs for Dancing
Flea Song (K) Songs for Dancing

 

  1. Pathways Floor and Air
    Rationale: To learn that we make patterns on the floor as we travel, and patterns in the air with different body parts, using different levels, directions, and spatial relationships.
     

     

    Activity Examples:
    Step On the Beat (K -5) Step on the Beat
    Down by the Station (K) Songs for Dancing
    Over the Top (3-5) Step on the Beat

 

  1. Shapes: Straight, Curved, Twisted, Angular, Symmetrical and Asymmetrical
    Rationale: To learn shape vocabulary and explore creative ways for use shapes when moving and working with others. Dances begin and end in a shape.

Activity Examples:
Shape Song (K-1) Songs for Dancing
Trees (K-2) AlphaBeat, followed by…
Travelers and the Magic Forest (K-2) AlphaBeat
Stick Together Game (K-5) Step on the Beat
Do Your Own Dance (K-2) Songs for Dancing
Over the Top (3-5) Step on the Beat

 

  1. Locomotor Movement
    Rationale: To learn and recognize the eight basic locomotor movements, individually and in movement sequences.

Activity Examples:
Locomotor Movement (K-5) AlphaBeat
Galloping Song (K) Songs for Dancing
Skipping Song (K-2) Songs for Dancing
Walking Song (K-2) Songs for Dancing

 

 

Other educators share their thoughts: 

Here’s what dance educator Betty A. from Urbana, IL says about her six-week creative dance unit organization:
“I use a variety of resources. But, my top choices would be the Anne Green Gilbert book (Creative Dance for All Ages)* and your resources. Any time someone asks for creative dance resources that is my standard answer. I do concept-based teaching. My focus is creative dance (dance elements -BEST – Body, energy, space, time). I try to teach one dance to all classes to discuss choreography. It might be a folk dance or a dance that we create together. 3rd through 5th grade always has a group choreography project using the concepts we have learned / explored. Of course, I try to cover all of the State Learning Standards, but often cannot get to all of them in 6 weeks.

 

*Kate adds: Anne Green Gilbert created a later publication called Brain-Compatible Dance Education. This book is organized by lesson plan component rather than concept, and included both many Braindance variations (like the material on my Brain Bop CD) AND references to Eric Chappelle’s companion music called Contrast and Continuum, Volumes I – IV. I use both books.

 

Here’s what dance educator Cissy W. from Lafayette, LA says about using my material in her units:

When I started trying to analyze how & when I use your CD’s at my various levels (K-5) and realized it was a very complex thing. I am not absolutely consistent with what I use first. Usually the Welcome Song followed by the Flea Song is a good start with my younger classes. I used to start with the Train Song, but now introduce that later in my sequence when we are studying pathways and sometimes even have 2 or 3 short trains going at once!  If I think they need to calm down and focus, I do the first section of the Brain Dance warm up from Brain Bop. Lately, I have been using the Galloping Song to transition from their table seats to their Poly spots on the dance floor. I use the Action Dance from AlphaBeat to review locomotors and break the ice with my new 3rd graders at the beginning of each 9 weeks. Other things are seasonal: The Haunted House in October, The More We Are Together for Valentine’s Day.

How do YOU organize YOUR dance unit?

January 23, 2015. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Creative Dance Lesson Plans, Elements of Creative Dance, Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance, Lesson Plan Organization, Teaching Tips, Working with Kate's Material. 1 comment.

Tips for teaching 2-3 year olds

Here’s a good question from a reader: Do you have any ideas or tips, suggestions for the 2 and 3 yrs. old group? Their attention span is so short, and preventing chaos it’s always a must.  Do you have any suggestions on how to balance the fun and learning concepts with this age group? In your opinion, what are the most important concepts and skills for the 2 and 3 yrs. old to learn in a dance class environment?

This is such a tough age when it’s just you and a group of children, rather than a parent/child program. My first thought is always to include parents with this age group when possible, so they can bond and communicate through movement, develop a shared vocabulary of movement and continue the play at home.
However, if that’s not possible, look at where these young children are developmentally. Little ones have not yet grasped the idea that you cannot read their minds. They also play in parallel rather than relating to one another.

In her book Creative Dance for All Ages, Anne Green Gilbert says 2-4 year olds learn through imitation, manipulation, observation and exploration.

Let’s look at each of these.
For imitation, use a lot of “I model, you copy” and “Do what I do.” Teach with tons of eye contact and positive, smiling energy. Modulate your voice. Scan the group with your eyes.
Strike just the right balance when pacing the lesson. The first time you do it, go slow enough to catch their attention. In later repetitions, you can speed up a bit. Keep teaching light, friendly, and fun. And don’t take it personally when kids go through their changes. Mood swings are common; don’t get attached to the sadness…they don’t!

 

Manipulation means using touch to communicate. When I do cross lateral movement, for example, I will pick up the arm or leg of the child next to me so she/he can feel the action. Think of all the finger play, tickling and bouncing games that have movement in them and can be done one on one, in a parent/child class. A hand puppet is a fun prop to use for appropriate touch, such as teaching body parts. Around goes the puppet touching each child on the shoulder, the knee, etc. as you name the parts.

Observation means watching and listening. Some children will choose to watch you and do very little movement themselves in class, even week after week, and then go home and sing the songs and perform the actions in the safety of their familiar environment. Be patient with the shy watchers. They will come to you.

Exploration is about teaching the dance concepts. Limit yourself two ideas for a concept area, such as size (big and small), level (high and low), direction (forward, backward, etc.) and speed (fast and slow). When you come back to a concept later, you can layer in additional points. Look for activities, songs and stories that emphasize your chosen concept, and let that be the thread that runs through the lesson.  Check for understanding by having children show you: Show me a big shape!  A small shape!

If a child can see, hear and do the concept…. they are on their way to understanding it.

Work in a circle.  Move in all directions and levels on your spot.  Move forward and back towards the center of the circle (It’s like a flower closing and opening, the petals meet in the middle.…model that once before they join you!) Move around the circle line.  Eventually, days into the semester, move away from and back to the circle (model that, too…..expect chaos.  Be ready with a sound cue that says ‘dance away’ and  ‘come back home.’)

Use visual aids: pictures and picture books. Alternate between picture and movement instead of all the pictures followed by all the movement.  Example: Using the book Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell, have children move each animal as it appears in the story, then return to the book, sit down, and discover the next animal. Guide the movement with ideas you’ve already come up with, such as a big and small face for a lion’s silent ‘roar’ or a tip-toeing, arms-reaching -up ‘giraffe.’ This will also control the chaos.

Sing! Play lively music!

The age of a child plus 2 minutes = a typical attention span. Therefore, structure your lessons in 5 minute increments and make sure to keep the instruction brief with plenty of movement time.

Expect to ‘play rather than plié’. By that I mean hard-wired skill development should be fun and brief.

Repeat, repeat, repeat…then do something new.

Set routines and follow them…. just plug in different activities but keep the structure familiar. You can even post the routine and point out where you are in the flow of the lesson during the first few weeks. This relaxes the anxious child who wants to know when they will go home! Familiarity breeds comfort.

Transition strategies are also part of routine and familiarity. Name the formations and transition strategies with the same words, play the same clean up tune, etc. In time, everyone becomes empowered and loves to show you that they know what to do when you say the words or play the tune.

Through dance, we teach the super-important life skill of following instructions.

My four tools that I want children to know are Concentration, Body Control, Imagination and Memory. (You can simplify the language: Watch and Listen, Control Yourself, Pretend, and Remember) I teach each with a gesture and use the word/gesture combinations frequently. Sometimes all I need is the gesture.

Decide on your cues/words for transitions for following instructions, such as ‘look at me’ or “my turn first, now your turn” or “1,2,3 ears on me, eyes on me as well” when modeling a skill.

What are some other strategies that you, my readers, would like to share on this topic?

November 9, 2014. Tags: , , , , , . Elements of Creative Dance, Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance, Studio Teaching. 1 comment.

Lesson Plan Series for Ages 3-5: Lessons 1-5

This is the first of three posts. Each will provide you with a set of five lesson plans.

Here’s the back story:  I have been providing creative dance instruction at an early childhood center every spring for the many years.  Since teaching is always an opportunity to mentor the educators in the room, I also provide them with detailed lesson plans.  The plans here are from spring, 2014.

These lessons progress through a variety of dance concepts, such as place, direction, level.

You’ll get a good idea for how to shape a curriculum that moves the children from simple to more complex learning over the course of time, and for the value of repetition.  We know that learners benefit from the comfort of repetition and the excitement of novelty.  Striking a balance between the two is part of our job as educators.

For the most part, I teach in a gross-motor room, blocking off part of the space if it is too large, and indicating where to start as children enter the room in a moving line.  This start spot can be a yoga square or polyspot.   From that start spot, we travel until we arrive in a circle.

I do this to model a different way of experiencing a space that is usually dedicated to tricycle riding, running and climbing.

When I teach in the classroom, we form a circle.   Sometimes, when space is very tight, I bring spots to scatter so we aren’t bunched up together or bumping into the edges of the space (radiators, bookshelves, etc.)

If you teach in a studio, these lessons will work nicely as well.

I use a CD player or, when possible, I use an ipod or iphone with the playlist programmed in.  I also carry a binder with visual supports that I’ve made by downloading images from the internet, drawing my own pictures, or using the downloadable visuals on my Songs for Dancing CD.

In a previous post, I gave you images for Imaginary Journey (a song from Alphabeat).  Check that out to get an idea for how you can let the pictures explain some of the key images and ideas, and empower the children through visual literacy.

Happy Dancing!

As always, I welcome your comments on your experiences with working with the material.   Lesson 1 on Place 2014Lesson 2 Warm Up 2014Lesson 3 Direction 2014Lesson 4 Direction 2014Lesson 5 Level Direction 2014

 

 

October 5, 2014. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , . Creative Dance Lesson Plans, Elements of Creative Dance, Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance, Working with Kate's Material. Leave a comment.

What to do with….Imaginary Journey

Imaginary Journey is from AlphaBeat. (You can download the track or the whole CD from itunes or order a disc through my website: katekuper.com)

Use visual supports!

Children may have no knowledge or experience with ‘astronauts’ and their ‘helmets.’ Not to mention ‘ice skates,’ or ‘meadows.’

I link this to the “S” words that demonstrate energy/movement quality: sharp, smooth, shaky and swinging.

I show them the letter ‘S’ and the blended sounds of ‘sh’ /’sm’/’sw’
for the energy words. Every time they identify the energy, we briefly move on our spot, still seated, using that energy. Show me shaky movement…Freeze!

Then, as I show them each picture and we talk about what we see in the pictures, I ask them about the quality. How will we move as astronauts? Smooth. Through blue Jell-O? Shaky.

I add other ‘S’ words as we go along: skate, stick, snow, strong and slow (for taking big steps through the snow).

I also model the line of direction (LOD) we’ll use as we go through the space (generally around in a circle).

Finally, after the dance is done, I show each picture again and ask them: What did we do when we were here? Or “How did we move when we were here?” I can follow that up with “Was it smooth or sharp?”

This is a great way to work on imagination and energy qualities, and make language and vocabulary connections.

I’ve attached a collection of images you can show before you start the activity.

Imaginary Journey Images

June 24, 2014. Tags: , , , , , , , . Elements of Creative Dance, Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance, What to do with...., Working with Kate's Material. 1 comment.

What to do with…The More We Are Together

What to do with….
The More We Are Together (from AlphaBeat)

Use this to teach the concept of Direction to ages 3-5.

The form is

1)   Sway side to side

2)   Swing forward and backward

3)   Sway side to side

Musical Interlude: Make your hands into butterflies.  Fly up and down, and then fly away (hands separate)

1)    Swing forward and backward

2)   Sway side to side

 

How To Teach:

Formation: Circle, sitting Ready Position (Legs crossed)

Teach the word direction.  Clap the syllables: Di-rec-tion.  Do it as call and response.

Teach the six directions.  Point and say each direction, then students respond.  Do this twice.

Forward! Backward!

Up! Down!

Side! Side!

 

In the first part of our dance, we’ll sway side to side.  Let’s do it!

(Sing: The more we are together, together, together, the more we are together the happier we’ll be)

In the next part we’ll swing our arms forward and backward as we sing.

(Sing: For your friends are my friends, and my friends are your friends)

We’ll end this part by swaying side to side again.

(Sing: The more we are together the happier we’ll be)

Stand Tall! 

Now let’s do it standing. (Sing and do.)

Add on:  Let’s add some forward and backward movement with our legs when we swing our arms forward and back.

Model: Step forward with one foot and close the other foot to it.  Step back with one foot and close the other foot to it.

Our feet do “go/stop!” forward and “go/stop!” backward as we swing our arms forward and backward.  Let’s practice!

“Go/stop!” “Go/stop! “Go/stop!” “Go/stop!”

How many times did we do  “Go/stop!”?  Four!

Let’s do it again.

(This teaches body control and shows the children that we only take ONE step forward and close to it before we repeat backward.  Otherwise, most children will run multiple steps forward and back, or ignore body control entirely)

 Now let’s do our dance from the beginning.

Side to side sways!

(Sing: The more we are together, together, together, the more we are together the happier we’ll be)

 

Forward and backward swings

“Go/stop!” “Go/stop! “Go/stop!” “Go/stop!”
(Tip: Sing the prompts to the melody of the song)

 

Side to side sways!

(Sing: The more we are together the happier we’ll be)

Teach the musical interlude:

Sit Ready Position.  Now let’s do butterflies.

Reach your arms straight in front of you, palms up.
Cross your wrists, palms still face up.
Hook your thumbs.  Now you have a butterfly!
(Fingers flutter)

Butterfly flies up … Butterfly flies down…

Butterfly flies up … Butterfly flies down…

Stand Tall!

Let’s do butterflies standing. (Repeat the whole process.  Fly up, fly down, then up to a middle level and butterflies ‘fly away’ – two hands separate, ready for the forward and backward swings.)

 We’ll end with ‘Go/Stop!’ and side sway!

Let’s do it all with music.

After a while you can replace ‘Go/Stop!’ with the lyrics (For your friends are my friends, and my friends are your friends).

Always give the basic cue before the transition, until they know the dance:

Side to side!
Forward and backward!

Make butterflies!

Butterflies fly away and swing forward and back?

Side to side!

 Enjoy!

 

 

January 31, 2014. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Creative Dance Lesson Plans, Elements of Creative Dance, Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance, Studio Teaching, What to do with...., Working with Kate's Material. 1 comment.

Creative Dance Activity Categories, Teaching Skills, and Examples

Many creative dance (and song) activities that we use with young students fall into these categories: pattern dances, guided explorations and improvisations, and gross motor coordination.  Some activities are blends.

Pattern Dances (and Songs)
Activities that require following a specific movement sequence to a beat.

1) Some pattern dances are teacher-centered with all aspects of the dance laid out by the teacher.

Teaching Skills

  • Be able to describe and demonstrate the pattern. Scripting help.
  • Be in the present and a little in the future (in your thinking and cuing)
  • Feel the speed and evenness of the beat
  • Become comfortable with using your voice as an instrument
  • Demonstrate one step at a time, then have children repeat that
  • Chain on each new idea
  • When guiding as the music plays, provide verbal transitions ahead of time

Examples of Pattern Dances

  • Sodeo (AlphaBeat)
  • Walking Song (Songs for Dancing)
  • Here We Go ‘Round and Round (Songs for Dancing)
  • The More We Are Together (AlphaBeat)

Examples of Pattern Songs

  • Clap Along Song (Step on the Beat)

2) Some pattern dances are student-centered where some ideas come from the students and are then used by the whole group as part of the dance. Many pattern dances can be adapted to be more student-centered, creating greater group ownership of the experience.

Additional Teaching Skills

  • Be able to provide prompts and choices for student input.
    Example: For this part should we gallop or side slide?  Should we clap high or low? Should we turn slowly or quickly?

 

 

Guided Explorations and Improvisations
Activities that give children room to make their own movement choices.

Teaching Skills

  • Be able to describe and demonstrate the rules. Scripting help.
  • Use a student demonstrator if the activity involves more than one person (e.g. interacting or changing partners)
  • When using props (e.g. scarves), demonstrate and describe first, then pass out the scarves (so children will concentrate on the demonstration)
  • When working with another person, demonstrate and describe first, before choosing a partner (so children will concentrate on the demo)

Examples of Guided Explorations and Improvisations

  • Stick Together Game (Step on the Beat, voice prompted and instrumental only)
  • Action Dance (AlphaBeat)
  • Haunted House (Brain Bop)
  • Imaginary Journey (AlphaBeat)
  • Drumtalk (AlphaBeat)

Gross Motor Coordination  (Developing Skills)
These are activities to hard-wire skills, such as galloping and hopping.  Obstacle courses are typical for this, with a starting and ending point.

Suggested Music: Free Dance (Songs for Dancing #18)

Teaching Skills

  • Be able to demonstrate the skill or use a student demonstrator
  • Feel the speed and evenness of the beat
  • Become comfortable with using your voice as an instrument
  • For an obstacle course, assign tasks to other teachers and aides:
    ‘gatekeeper’ (at the starting point, to let children in one at a time)
    ‘encourager’ (positioned at the mid-point of the obstacle course, to cheer on individuals) – Usually the one who taught the activity
    ‘line supervisor’ (makes sure the line keeps moving up to the start   point)
    ‘spotter’ (generally at the end of the line, spotting to see that individuals complete the course (Body Shape!) and travel to the end of  the line)

 

Blends
“Blends” are activities that combine two or more categories, such as “pattern dance and improvisation” or “exploration and gross motor coordination.”

Blend Examples:

  • Everybody Do This (Songs for Dancing)
  • Little Birdies (Songs for Dancing)
  • Apples and Oranges (Step on the Beat)
  • Step on the Beat (Step on the Beat)

 

 

January 6, 2014. Tags: , , , , , . Developing Skills, Elements of Creative Dance, Exploring, Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance, Studio Teaching, Working with Kate's Material. Leave a comment.

What to do with …. Apples and Oranges

What to do with….
Apples and Oranges (from Step on the Beat)

I’ve talked about Apples and Oranges in other blog posts, connected to teaching galloping, for example.

(If you don’t already have it, you can purchase Step on the Beat through my website, katekuper.com, or from West Music.)

The children asked to include this dance as a favorite activity for our Informance (Open House, informal presentation of a lesson).

We identified “Body Parts and Energy” as the conceptual through-line for the 4 & 5 year olds’ Informance.

For 6-7 year olds, the concept focus was “Body Parts and Shape.”

Here’s how we adapted Apples and Oranges for each age group, conceptual focus, and lesson plan component:

1) For 4-5s, as a Creating activity

Creating includes invention and/or improvisation.  We decided to make the A section focus “Body Parts.”

After learning the clapping pattern A section, we asked the children to suggest using a different body part other than the knees for the ‘slap.’ What should it be?  We performed that part in the section, with the ‘circle round’ that we do in place with younger children (or when we want to go quickly through the dance), where we just turn around on our spot .

After practicing, we chose ANOTHER body part for the second ‘slap.’

Then we put it all together: slap/clap/slap/clap/ And turned the other way for  ‘circle round’//

Time for the B section focusing on “Energy.”

Next, we designated half the group as Apples, half as Oranges. (Since parents were dancing with the children, we had people choose by raise of hands, rather than half and half or every other one).

Leader modeled how Apples would  ‘dance away’ and ‘dance back home’ WITH A SPECIFIC ENERGY while Oranges would stay and clap on the pulse.  We chose swinging movement away, and shaky movement home.

But wait!  Why should the travelers have all the fun?  Those who stayed had to keep the pulse tapping on A SPECIFIC BODY PART.

Everyone practiced.  Then MUSIC GO!

2) For 6-7s as a Developing Skills activity

Developing Skills is about hard-wiring technical abilities and challenging memory within sequence.

First, we focused on Body Parts. We practiced the B section traveling movement in scattered space: side slide with head going up toward the ceiling and center (area of the belly button) drawing a letter “U” with every slide.  Skip with knees lifting up.  Gallop with one foot chasing the other, pointing the toes … like a real chassé!

Second, we emphasized Body Parts and Shape for the A section.
Find a partner and a spot in scattered space. Practice slap & clap.  Add one body part for the slap (idea from the children that we all use) and clap.  Add second part and clap.  Sequence first-part slap/ clap, second-part slap/ clap.  Teach ‘angular elbows’ around for an elbow swing with your partner.  Ask for prediction, when we repeat, what will happen with elbow swing? (We’ll go the other way).

Here comes the shape emphasis.

Decide who is an Apple and Orange in each pair.

Apples will travel.  Oranges will stay.

Travelers will use two of the three locomotor skills we practiced earlier.  (Travel away with the side slides and back with the gallop.)

Oranges will MAKE A BODY SHAPE and keeping the pulse WITH ONE BODY PART (can be audible or visual).  Nod a head! Tap a foot! Bounce into one hip! (Etc.)

All practice shape and keeping the pulse.

Then practice travel and shape/pulse.  Practice trading.

MUSIC GO!  On second travel, skip away and gallop back.

December 14, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Creating, Developing Skills, Elements of Creative Dance, Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance, Recitals, Studio Teaching, What to do with...., Working with Kate's Material. Leave a comment.

What to do with… Locomotor Movement (from AlphaBeat)

 

Download the track from iTunes or purchase the recording in its entirety one of the vendors who carries my CDs or from me (katekuper.com)

Kindergarten through 2nd grade
Note: Adaptable for older preschoolers and grades 3-4

Gross motor skills are the building blocks of movement combinations, important for physical fitness enjoyment, play, coordination and brain health.

Group movement in general space encourages students to use awareness and self control in a communal setting.  These skills translate into better interactions on the playground, in the hallways and the lunchrooms.

Teaching locomotor movement is important for all these reasons.

A crucial skill is the ability to successfully guide students as they travel through the general space. This requires using clear language and smart strategies that help students build motor coordination while still being safe.

Strategies include:

Awareness of others;  self control

Use concentration and body control.
Move into the empty spaces, so you don’t get hurt.
Use your peripheral vision, your soft focus.  Eyes everywhere.
Bodies move, mouths don’t.

Awareness of the space

“This is the area for movement and these are the boundaries.”
Jog the periphery (or have a student demonstrator do it) to show the boundaries.
If the space is too big, set up a spatial barrier (e.g. traffic cones)
If the space is too small, take turns. Watchers sit in ready position, hands in laps, while Movers travel around and between.

Clear signals for starts and stops

Teach your signals and use them consistently.

Stops: When I guide children to move on a slow or medium speed, a double-beat on the drum is enough to signal ‘Freeze.’ For faster movement, first shake the drum to alert them that the Freeze sound is coming, then play the double-beat for stillness.

Starts: Stand up. Listen to the drum (or voice) for the speed and pulse of the movement.
Speak on the pulse, over the sound of the drum: “One, two, ready, start.”  After a while, the drum can do all the ‘talking.’

Clear signals for transitions.

As we change from one thing to another in a movement sequence, give advanced notice, several beats ahead.

Choices and Consequences

Don’t be afraid to stop the music/activity, have everyone sit, ask the children to tell you why you stopped the activity, review concentration and body control, and invite everyone to start again.

“If you don’t think you have the body control for this activity, you may sit here or here.”
Always invite the person who sat out to come right back in on the next activity.  This is not a punishment, but an opportunity to observe what others are doing accurately.

Setting Up Instruction for  Locomotor Movement (from AlphaBeat)
There are eight basic locomotor movements: walk, run, hop, jump, gallop, side slide, skip and leap.

Students begin in a seated position, in a circle or in scattered space.


Move your arms like an old fashion locomotive train and say: Locomotor movement goes from one place to another.

Do this as a call and response several times.

Check for understanding: What do you call movement that goes from one place to another?

Next, call on individual students to model different forms of locomotor movement by traveling around the inside of the circle, so that all can see. 

Connect the exploration to letter sound recognition, as modeled in the following examples.

Change students each time.

To address diverse strengths in your students, you might have one student name the movement, and another demonstrate it.

I’m thinking of a locomotor movement that we all use to go from one place to another that starts with the “w” sound? What is it?   (Select one student to model “walk).

I’m thinking of a locomotor movement we use to go quickly from one place to another that starts with the “r” sound(Student models “run.”  Or you could say “j” sound for “jog”)

I’m thinking of a locomotor movement we do on one foot that starts with the “h” sound?  (Student models “hop”).

I’m thinking of a locomotor movement we do on two feet that starts with the “j” sound?  (Student models “jump”).

I’m thinking of a locomotor movement that ponies do that starts with the “g” sound?  (Student models “gallop”).

Now that we are all going to be moving through the space, it’s time to learn about general space

General space is the space we share as we travel from one place to another.

When you move through the general space, you’ll need body control and concentration.  

Let’s scoop up a little concentration dust and rub it in.
You’ll also want to be like a potato…. eyes everywhere, but no mouth.

Remember to move into the empty spaces so you don’t get hurt.  

Stand tall one and all.

Let’s travel through the general space doing these locomotor movements.   My drum will talk to you with the pulse of the movement.  When you hear the freeze sound, stop!  Let’s walk……(freeze) Let’s do the movement that goes on one foot….hop! (freeze) Let’s do the movement that starts with the ‘g’ sound….gallop (freeze).  What locomotor movement starts with the “j” sound and uses two feet off the ground?  Jump…. (Freeze). Good job moving into the empty spaces!

Sit ready position. 

Now play the song!  You have prepared the group to be successful.

Note: The last locomotor movement in the song is RUN.

Options for this:

1)   Divide the group in half. Half will sit while the others run the boundaries. Then trade.

2)   All run the boundaries.

After the song, take time to breath and recover. The song recaps the different locomotor movements musically. This can be a time when students are breathing.  Use some of the language connections for summative reflection.

November 18, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , . Developing Skills, Elements of Creative Dance, Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance, What to do with...., Working with Kate's Material. Leave a comment.

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