What to do with…Down By the Station

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)!

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May 18, 2015. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Behavior Management, Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance, Teaching Tips, Transition Magic, What to do with...., Working with Kate's Material. Leave a comment.

What to do with…..Resting

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.

 

May 2, 2015. Tags: , , , . Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance, Resting, What to do with...., Working with Kate's Material. Leave a comment.

What to do with…Show Your Feelings!

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!

Lots of Feelings book cover

 

March 25, 2015. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , . Favorite Books, Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance, Teaching Tips, What to do with...., Working with Kate's Material. Leave a comment.

Lesson Plan Series for ages 3-5: Lessons 11-15

This is the third and final post in this Lesson Plan Series.

Notice these things:

  1. Simplify more complex activities to make them age appropriate.
  2. Teach a skill, then apply it in the following activity.
  3. Use visual supports to teach, empower and improve memory.

 

Simplify more complex activities to make them age appropriate.

For Here We Go Round and Round, I adapted a circle dance that is usually done holding hands, traveling around the circle line.
Since the concept was ‘Body Parts.’ I made the circling into ‘circle one body part, one way and the other.’ The sequence of the dance remained the same except for that.  I posted the downloadable visual support for this dance, found on the Songs for Dancing CD, so we could use it as a visual reference. See my post called What to do with…. Here We Go Round and Round for more details on that.

Teach a skill, then apply it in the following activity.

See my post called Using Galloping Song to teach Apples and Oranges  for more details on that!

Use visual supports to teach, empower and improve memory.

Use the letter “S” to teach qualities: smooth, sharp, shaky and swinging.  You can even use letter blends – sh, and sw – if you want to up the challenge level.  Use the “S” visual for review, to check for understanding.

See my post called What to do with….Imaginary Journey to download the visuals for that activity.  Use the visuals before you teach, while you are teaching, and when you review.  Very powerful and empowering for the children.

Finally, use your collection of visuals as an archive.
When it’s free choice time, I place three pictures in front of a child and ask him/her to choose which activity we will do.  If there’s time, pick another child to choose another activity after you’ve done the first one.  There are all kinds of methods you can use to select and sequence free choice activities when the visual supports are available.  I keep my visual supports in page protectors in a binder. I either  put the ones I’m offering for free choice on a 1″ book ring for ease of flipping pages, post them on the board, or lay them out on the floor.

Here are the last 5 lessons in this series.

Lesson 11 Body Parts 2
Lesson 12 Body Parts 3
Lesson 13 – Pulse and Pattern
Lesson 14 – Expression and Quality
Lesson 15 – Imagination and Quality

Enjoy your time with the children!

November 23, 2014. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Creative Dance Lesson Plans, Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance, Studio Teaching, Working with Kate's Material. Leave a comment.

Lesson Plan Series for Ages 3-5: Lessons 6 -10

This next set of 25-30 minute lessons would work best in a gross-motor space rather than the classroom. However, if you are restricted to your room, make sure to clear away the obstructions that will hamper your success. Guide children away from the edges of the space and into the open spaces.

I generally teach in a circle, the most democratic of spatial formations and also the one that leaves all that valuable real estate open in the center.  Go ahead and have some students be ‘jelly filling’ inside the ‘doughnut’ when possible.  Different children can have that privilege on different days.  You can also have every other child scoot forward from his/her spot on the circle, to leave more space on either side.

Another strategy for spreading children out is to use tape markings or portable markers, such as yoga squares.  You already may have carpets with designs on them that the children have become accustom to. Just make sure they aren’t jammed together.
Changing the way you use space is NEW and novelty always creates a little chaos.

Give this new spatial arrangement three times……by the third time of doing something differently, the children — and you — will have settled into a ‘new normal’ during movement time.

These lessons are on the concepts of Direction and Speed, Energy, Shape, and Body Parts.  In the middle of the sequence is a new warm up, to change up what you are doing with the children.  After you’ve done this new warm up 3-5 times, you can go back to the previous warm up and switch them out thereafter.  This is also true of welcome and hello songs and dances.

My ‘Rule of Three’ applies here, too.  Do a new hello song times, then switch it out with something different.  The children will appreciate the novelty at that point.

Lesson 6 Direction Speed 2014
Lesson 7 on Energy 2014

Lesson 8 New Warm Up 2014
Lesson 9 Shape
Lesson 10 Body Parts

Enjoy!

October 27, 2014. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Creative Dance Lesson Plans, Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance, Studio Teaching, Working with Kate's Material. Leave a 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…. Here We Go Round and Round

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.

Example:

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.

 

June 10, 2014. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Creative Dance Lesson Plans, Developing Skills, Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance, Studio Teaching, What to do with...., Working with Kate's Material. Leave a comment.

Another look at “Drumtalk”

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.

Fun!

By the way, you can use any drum for this, not just a djembe.

May 16, 2014. Tags: , , , , , , . Exploring, Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance, What to do with...., Working with Kate's Material. Leave a comment.

Foot Song

Once in a while I get an inspiration while the children are standing in line waiting to leave at the end of class.  If there are dawdlers, why penalize the ones who are in line? That’s how Foot Song came into being.

Foot Song is a way to keep children engaged during transitions such as the one I just described.  It’s also a fun song to use at the start of a lesson on teaching parts of the body or to shake sillies out. You can be in any group formation to do it.

Here it is, with notation.

Foot Song
(to the tune of Old MacDonald) – key of F

F                  C               D             C       A               G             F
I see feet that are standing on the floor, what can those feet do?

 
A     A#         C                      A    C           A#                   A#        A

Can they jump, jump, jump? Can they jump and jump? Can they jump, jump,

 

G                   F        (spoken or sung)

jump, jump, jump?          STOP!

 

Repeat with tap, tip/toe/turn. Open it up to children’s suggestions: kick, hop, swing, etc.

(Note: The more more kinds of movement the children know, the more ideas they will suggest.)

April 2, 2014. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Favorite Music, Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance, Transition Magic. Leave a comment.

What to do with…Little Birdies

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?”

Trade groups.
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!
Other tips:

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!

March 13, 2014. Tags: , , , , , , . Creative Dance Lesson Plans, Developing Skills, Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance, What to do with...., Working with Kate's Material. Leave a comment.

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