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!
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.
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)!
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!
Haunted House, found on Brain Bop, is an imaginary journey using the eight patterns of The Sequence (Braindance).
Here are visual supports that may help your students visualize the images along the way, especially if they are not familiar with what — for example — cobwebs or a suit of armour look like.
Show these images as you talk students through the sequence of events in this imaginary journey, then show them again — as quick reference — as you take the journey. You can print the images on heavy stock, slip them into page protectors and put a single 1-inch book ring on one corner for easy page flipping.
Or you can post them in sequence.
The images are:
The front door of the haunted house
(Talk about the water that’s going to drip on you)
A mouse hole (help them visualize the scale….a mouse is small!)
Rug that we’ll fly on (on our stomachs)
Dark hall where we have to edge along the wall
Suit of armour we’ll hide (and walk) in. It’s stiff! Pick the one you like, and wear that one.
Big fireplace we will skip to
Chimney we’ll go up (2 choices are given)
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.
Here We Go Round and Round is from Songs for Dancing.
Here’s an adaptation for 3-5 year olds!
Using the downloadable visual that comes with the CD, sing/play the song and point to the pictures, so the children get the road map.
For the verses: Teach/co-create the movement for ‘head,’ ‘arm,’ ‘leg,’ and ‘whole self.’ You can brainstorm with the children to decide specifics for in, out, and shake.
For all the chorus parts (“Here We Go Round and Round”), circle different body parts in place. During the transition, after “all on a beautiful day,” count down as you jump on your spot “4,3,2,1!”
Start with Dancer’s Choice or Teacher’s Choice (I do hips…. the hula hoop variety…. circling one way, then the other)
After that, for every chorus, use the body part that matches the verse.
Verse: Let’s put our head in…..
Chorus: Circle head one way, then the other.
Develop your own ideas for how to circle arms or legs. Brainstorm with the children and try different things on different days.
Conclude with ‘whole self’ turning around in space and help the children stop by saying “Feet Stay!” as the music ends!
I guarantee that these adaptations make a complex dance manageable for little ones!
Teach this to support naming and using parts of the body, moving on a steady beat, remembering a sequence, and for aerobic exercise.
Remember your job will be to cue or signal the transitions between each part. Leave the picture on the floor in front of you for quick reference.
A music teacher recently told me how she has adapted “Drumtalk” for grades K-3rd.
This is something she does at the start of the year, when just getting to know the children and working on listening skills.
Instead of the drum only saying ‘shake,’ ‘freeze,’ ‘melt,’ and ‘pop up,’ it speaks Animal!
Playing a djembe, she makes sounds that suggest animals. Fingers drummed lightly and quickly on the head might be ‘squirrel.’ Dragging a fingernail over the head might be ‘snake.’ Strong, slow, loud strikes may suggest ‘elephant.’
She lets the group of children decide what each sound means, and plays again as they move as that animal.
By the way, you can use any drum for this, not just a djembe.
Little Birdies is on Songs for Dancing.
I usually wait several weeks to teach this to youngest children (ages 3-5) because it is the first time we are moving more freely through the space. Up to this point, children have danced on their spot, moved in a line through the space to arrive in a circle while doing Down By the Station (also from Songs for Dancing) or moved around a circle line walking forward and backward while doing Sodeo (from AlphaBeat).
Little Birdies gives me a chance to see if children can 1) follow instructions and 2)use body control with the boundaries moved out a little further. If they can NOT succeed in maintaining the sleeping birdie body shape, waking up when tapped, flying safely or returning to the nest safely, I have gathered a lot of information about the group. I know they need to work on listening skills and body control.
How to disaster-proof this fun and beloved activity?
First, model all the essentials: bird sleeping shape, wake up signal, demonstration flying (spanking run and wide wings) with brief group flying to practice, ‘come here’ gesture, and flying in to go to sleep.
Observe the children. Note who is missing the key ideas and who has energy that is barely contained. Those are the students who need to WATCH first. They are your bird watchers.
Don’t set this up as a punishment; be matter-of-fact. “We’re going to do this in two groups, birds and bird watchers. You’ll be the first bird watchers.”
Designate a space where they can sit and watch, with their ‘binoculars.’
Those who have demonstrated listening skills and body control in your initial teaching are your first group of birds to fly.
After the first group has had a turn being birdies…..Ask the watchers (and keep the pace brisk on this):
“Did you see how they slept? Show me the body shape.”
“How they woke up? Show me what you do when you get tapped.”
“How they flew? Did they use control? Yes!”
“How they returned to the nest? Flying straight in and going to sleep, without tripping over other people? Yes!”
“Are you ready to be birdies?”
If any of the birds poses a danger as they are flying, remind them that the spanking run is not a ‘run’ and that they must watch when they fly back in so they don’t trip over other returning birdies.
If you have to fly with a ‘spirited’ birdie, then do so!
1) Teach the sleeping shape as “knees down please, seat on feet, nose to knees.” This is like the Tornado Drill body shape (minus hands over head!) I won’t wake up children who are a ‘straight line’ because they aren’t using their listening skills (unless a disability prevents them from folding in at the hips, of course). It’s important to maintain flexibility in the hip joints, and this helps.
2) Practice ‘wake up’ with words first. Then demonstrate the two little ‘wake up’ taps on ONE STUDENT DEMONSTRATOR. Then practice waking up the whole group.
Happy and Safe Flying!