Resting is the last component of my lesson with Head Start (ages 3-5) and the mid-point component of my studio classes in creative dance. There are lots of kinds of music you can play during resting: lullabies (I favor Carol Rosenberger’s Such Stuff As Dreams, James Galway’s Nocturnes, or you can use the last two tracks from my Brain Bop CD, or the Resting music from Songs for Dancing).
Lately, I’ve added some verbal prompts for my Head Start students, since some have a hard time settling.
First, I ask them to find a place with empty space on either side, and to do ‘the 3 S’s’: straight, still and silent. Straight means arms are straight by their sides, and legs are straight. An aligned body, lying face up.
Sometimes I ask for ‘3 P’s’: patient, polite and peaceful. By being still and quiet, they are showing respect to the others.
If you choose to give each child an alignment adjustment, the ‘patient’ word helps them remember to wait their turn.
Finally, when we are done (the duration of a musical selection, 2-4 minutes), I ask students to ‘sit up to the mountain.’
That’s the Mountain Breathing position, a simple yoga seated posture, with hands above the heads, fingers touching, in a mountain shape.
Then, we place our hands on our chest and say, as call and response, “I feel calm…..I feel peaceful….I feel relaxed.”
After that, we float our hands down. If lining up to depart the space, we may float like clouds, balloons or other soft things, with the calm, peaceful, relaxed feeling and moving slowly, smoothly and safely.
The first lesson I teach in the studio at the start of a new semester is a lesson on place. See the attached plan for a detailed sample 45-minute lesson.
The word ‘place’ comes from Laban’s vocabulary. In Laban notation, where we start indicates place.
In our studio, class size is limited to 12 children. There is always a lead teacher and at least one assisting teacher. Children take their shoes off outside the door, with a parent’s help, and enter the room to play with the prop of the day (scarves, pop toobs, stretchy bands, etc) before I play a few notes on the recorder indicating ‘time to clean up and make a circle for the warm up.’
When I teach in an early childhood setting, as a teaching artist, I am limited to 20-30 minutes and move more slowly through the material. I may only do the “Welcome Song” (in great detail) and the warm up. The next time, I will add Apples and Oranges. In an early childhood or Head Start setting, I begin and end with “Down By the Station” to model traveling in a moving line to form a circle, and using that moving line from the circle to return to the door.
I also account for time to take off shoes at the beginning, leaving the shoes in “shoe-ville” with socks inside shoes (‘put your socks inside your shoes, then your socks you will not lose.’ ‘The toes of your shoes ‘kiss’ the wall.’) At the end, the ‘train’ returns to shoe-ville and everyone finds their ‘house’ (pair of shoes).
See Songs for Dancing for detailed modeling of Down by the Station and Welcome Song.
Enjoy this lesson plan! Let me know how it works for you.1 Place for Ages 4-5
Coming Soon: Lesson on Size and Level
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.