On the one hand, I’ve always lead it as a guided exploration. On the other hand, I have a friend in Lafayette, LA who choreographs this every year with her students.
Check this out, and decide for yourself what you’d choose to do. Creativity is endless!
As a Teaching Artist, I often had to generate dance ideas that connect with curriculum.
Here was my approach.
I would research the topic that the grade level was working on, and look for and jot down:
- Descriptive words (nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives)
- Sequence of events that create structure (such as science processes, words of a poem)
I might brainstorm and partially group-write a script or poem with the kids and clean it up later as needed.
Then, I’d seek to match my research with:
- Action (in place)
- Locomotion (traveling)
- Shapes (individual, group) that stay
- Shapes that move (e.g. water that sways, clams that open and shut)
- Quality of Movement (including expression, emotion)
I’d look for:
- Music selections
- Words that would guide the action.
(Words and music could be the score, at the same time or alternately.)
Many of my own creations have come out of this process.
Let’s look at some examples for working with younger students (grades K-2)
For 1st “Little Seed” and “Trees”
For mature 1st grade and 2nd “Snowflake Dance”
Here are some ideas from other resources for 2nd graders
For a dance about the Water Cycle, see “Water Dance” by Thomas Locker as a terrific point of departure. You can excerpt material for spoken word.
For music, I recommend the storm section of Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony and Marimba Dances – 1 from Light in Darkness by Evelyn Glennie.
For Habitats (Ocean, Desert, Rainforest):
I group-wrote, very often, an ocean dance with the students (use Aquarium from Carnival of the Animals as your soundtrack).
For desert, you can glean from Diane Siebert’s book Mojave.
I wrote my own poem and music for a rainforest dance. (It’s in the Oct/Nov 2010 Issue of Activate Magazine…see later part of this post)
Here’s a list of topics I’ve successfully explored with K-2 students:
- Alphabet Order
- Folk and Fairy Tales
- Verbs and Adverbs (more a 2nd grade and up thing)
For poetry, I particularly love The Random House Book of Poetry for Children edited by Jack Prelutzky as a resource
- Telling time
- Add – Subtract – Multiply
- The Seasons
- Insects: metamorphosis, life cycle
- Weather: water and weather, clouds
- States of Matter
- Animals: Adaptations, ways they move
- Folk Dance (Sanna Longden’s material is great, as are the New England Dancing Masters.)
- How societies work (try creating a dance using democratic process, with voting!)
- Rules and laws, and why we need them (making dances with rules)
A couple of other integration pieces (and this is just a small sampling)
A book/CD/DVD. Curriculum-integration lessons are divided into K-2 and 3-5th lessons
Rhythm of Math: Teaching Mathematics with Body Music (A Kinesthetic Approach)
A 3-5 focused-curriculum
This resource is very rhythm-centric but it’s a very cool blend with movement and VERY math strong.
Anne Green Gilbert and her Laban-based, concept-based approach is great for fundamentals
Including Brain-Compatible Dance Education
and Creative Dance for All Ages, 2nd edition (which came out last year, and includes some video and additional resources as downloads).
Some of my documented integration lessons are in issues of Activate! Magazine.
This is mainly for music teachers, but also includes some movement. You can back-order some issues of Volume 5 that include science-integrated activities for K-2 and companion strategies that go with them.
No. 2: Oct/Nov 2010 – Crazy Locomotion Relays (a great strategy for generating lots of locomotor movement ideas) and Rainforest Dance (Done to an original poem and includes music)
No. 3: Dec/Jan 2010/11 – Animal Tracks
No. 5: April/May 2011 – Water and Weather: Exploring Science through Movement (includes music)
If you have ideas of your own, kid-tested favorites, please share!
You’ve been telling me how Songs for Dancing and Step On the Beat are meaningful and helpful to you.
You can help me get the word out to more people by writing a review on Amazon.
Here are the rules and regulations for customer reviews.
Then, go to my author page and write a review of which ever piece you are excited about. More than one is fine!
I’m so excited to share the news that my dance and science integrated curriculum book has just been published. Fantastic Forces is a book, CD and DVD combination, designed like Songs for Dancing and Step on the Beat. It’s based on an evolving unit of study I first experimented with in 2000 and have revised and improved over many dance residencies, primarily with 3rd grade classes.
I created songs and rhythmic speech music, with long-time collaborators Neal Robinson and Rocky Maffit, and documented demonstration teaching with long-time video collaborator Bill Yauch.
To give teachers a nice broad plank of science understanding, I also collaborated with Troy Vogel, a science professor at the University of Illinois. He kept my ‘magical thinking’ at bay, and his explanations appear throughout the book as “science corners” to enhance understanding.
The material is a big unit of study, integrating music, movement, and all the integration strategies I use so that students can gain understanding through multiple points of entry – seeing, hearing, saying and doing.
There are many opportunities for students to problem solve in pairs, adding the collaboration component to critical thinking.
My hope is that music, classroom and physical education, and dance/drama teachers can even work together to implement the material.
I’m also available for professional development workshops to help ignite and launch teachers in implementing the curriculum.
I’ve talked about Apples and Oranges in other blog posts, as well as in “What to do with…”
(If you don’t already have it, you can purchase Step on the Beat through my website, katekuper.com, or from West Music.)
Today I worked with a challenging group of 1st graders with poor body control, and poor interactive and listening skills.
Thought I’d do Apples and Oranges as a partner dance.
We started with slap and clap, building up from one slap/clap each to two each.
For the ‘circle round’ part –I would typically do as a right and left elbow swing – I had them ‘gypsy’ around = circle around a shared axis with only eye contact, not touching. Next, I attempted the elbow swings.
Not gratified by the outcome, I switched strategies.
We formed a circle, still standing next to partners. Each partner committed to being either an Apple or an Orange, and I checked for understanding with raise of hands.
I explained the ground rules for traveling – skip, gallop or side slide – and demonstrated the duration by modeling.
Then each group practiced.
I had to stop the activity to remind NO RUNNING. (In fact, I had to interrupt individual dancers during the activity for the same infraction…. but no injuries occurred and cooperation was restored!)
Next, we did slap, clap and turn around on our spots, as I have adapted for 4 & 5 year olds.
In the repetition of the dance, I had them turn to their partners for slap and clap. This gave the dance just enough social interaction/cooperative skill building to be satisfying to the age group.
The positive outcome reminded me that we educators can blend strategies from different developmentally appropriate categories to get just the right balance, instead of staying away from the activity all together.
We just had our Informance – ‘informal performance’ – which we also call ‘Stay Day’ or ‘Open Class.’ We invite parents, family members, and friends to come, watch, take pictures or video, and best of all – PARTICIPATE! This is the only class where parents can see what a typical class looks like. Otherwise, we are closed to observation.
In the fall, Creative Dance is a mentoring program for college students learning to teach, so we have several people sharing leadership during the lesson. My role is to narrate the rationale behind each section and to lead the final closure activities. In the spring, I teach with one assistant only, and we trade leadership throughout. I continue to narrate before each lesson component.
I asked my students to come up with a “To Do” list that would help them plan future open classes.
HERE IT IS!
Informance/Open Class “To Do” List
At the beginning of the semester, include information about the Open Class. Two weeks before, remind parents about the upcoming informance/open class. The week before, post signs and send out an email reminder.
Print out business cards or flier promoting the class for the next semester and for referrals.
Throughout the semester, track favorites activities from the lesson for Exploring the Concept, Developing Skills, and Creating.
Select from among those favorites to write lesson plans, keeping in mind the possibility of parent participation. Make sure the lesson plan is very complete. Divide up lesson sections among teachers and assistants. Practice parts thoroughly so as to be competent and relaxed in front of the parents.
Have a prepared introduction. This includes introducing all teachers and assistants and a brief summary of the concepts that we’ve worked on during the semester.
Have a prepared short description of the whole lesson structure, with specifics presented before each activity (including the rationale for each component). Integrate remarks into the lesson plan so all teachers and assistants know what’s coming, to help with class flow and a sense of community.
THE DAY BEFORE:
Set up seating for “audience.”
Have a sign when the parents walk in saying “Welcome Dancers and Families” as one last reminder, and to welcome them into our classroom.
Clean/sweep the floor.
Have props and materials all ready set to the side, easy to find.
Have the concept on the board written clear and large so all can see.
Have music on a playlist, organized, easy to find.
THE DAY OF:
Keep the before class-activity really simple, so anyone can join in. (We put out scarves)
Watch the clock or have a timekeeper to keep us on track.
Keep inviting parents and family members to participate throughout the class.
Make closing remarks, at which time you can get promo into parents’ hands.
Follow that with a fun, communal closing activity that includes everyone, and ends with the children and teachers organized for a group photo.
Be prepared for ‘hugs, hand shakes and high fives.”
Have parents help clean up.
Note: A few activities (from Kate’ material) that work well for parent/child involvement in an open class:
Explore: Stick Together Game from Step on the Beat
Developing Skills (or Creating) for All: Apples and Oranges from Step on the Beat
Resting: Resting from Songs for Dancing
Creating (or Explore): Shape Maker/Shape Explorer from Step on the Beat
Closure: The Goodbye Song from Songs for Dancing
With early childhood, in the school setting, when the children come to me, I use Down By the Station (from Songs for Dancing) as the transition to entering the gross motor space and forming a circle.
It sets the stage for imaginative play, reminds children that they have not come to ride the bikes or play on the climbing structure, and ends us in a desirable spatial formation.
From there, we either sit or stand for a welcome activity, followed by our warm up.
After doing this song/activity every week for many weeks, the children were no longer ‘transformed.’ Spirited children were getting into other people’s personal space, etc. It has become one more single file line, and we know there are already plenty of those in the school setting!
I DO know that children like to MOVE, and, once the newness wears off, walking on the beat just won’t cut it.
SO…I told the children we were going to do a special kind of train. First it was a JUMPING train. Then, after we’d pointed out all the different animals and plants we saw on our train trip and returned to the song, we were a HOPPING train.
This changed it up just enough to add interest, it was aerobic and exciting, and accomplished the activity objective (get into the space, end in a circle, sing, move, imagine).
Look for different locomotor movements (stomping, turning, tipping side to side), energy qualities (shaky, sharp), or levels (high and low) to spice things up in your own train….or when leading ANY SINGLE FILE LINE.
Think outside the box (car)!
If you are already doing the Developmental Movement Pattern Sequence found on my CD Brain Bop (also called the “Braindance” developed by Anne Green Gilbert), you might enjoy using these same 8 patterns to develop a technical warm up for your students ages 7 or 8 and up.
I suggest working with one or more colleagues to brainstorm ideas that work for ballet, modern, jazz or hip-hop. Start with one technique only, and develop a progressive warm up that follows the sequence while also teaching elements and principles of the technique.
Then, film or otherwise document the different sequences and keep them handy. They can be used on a rotating basis.
In my Creative Dance for Children seminar, college students divided into groups and created. I videoed and posted, so that whoever was lead-teaching had a point of departure. The warm up was refined and improved upon from one week to the next.
In our ages 8-10 class, we divided our semester into 4 weeks each of modern, ballet and hip hop just for the warm up. The rest of the lesson followed a concept-based approach for technique, improvisation and composition. We did refer back to the “technique of the week” in the across the floor phrases, layering on new technique ideas as they were introduced through the warm up over the course of the semester.
In preparation for our “Informance” (informal, open class), students decided ahead of time which of the three different warm ups they wanted to share. That became the warm up for the demonstration class, shared with parents and friends.
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.
Show Your Feelings! is found on AlphaBeat.
Use visual supports to frame the experience.
I recommend Lots of Feelings by Shelley Rotner. This book has photos of children making faces and covers almost all the feelings in the song.
Before you do the song, read the book. For non-readers, I replace the word ‘loving’ with ‘peaceful,’ since that vocabulary appears in the song. I usually skip the page with ‘serious’ and ‘silly.’
As you do the song, you can say, “Hmm, I wonder what’s next?” modeling the feeling of being ‘curious.’
After you’ve done the song, review the images again. You can ask them if the group was ‘curious’ about anything during the song….someone will likely chime in “We wondered what was next!”
You can also create your own visual supports by taking pictures of your students (individual or group) as they perform the song. Print the pictures and caption them with the emotions. Make an emotion word wall, and use these as a reference to help children verbally identify and express their emotions.
Thanks to Rachel at the Savoy Head Start for the emotion word wall idea!