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…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….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…. 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.

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.

What to do with…Do Your Own Dance

Do Your Own Dance  is from Songs for Dancing.

Use this to teach the concepts of level, direction, or different movements to ages 3-7.

This dance can be done traveling through space with older children, or in-place with younger.

The form is:

  • Start in a shape
  • Do your own dance
  • Do different movements: hopping, jumping, turning, twisting.
  • Freeze in a shape. Change level from high to low, then back up to high.
  • Do your own dance
  • Do different movements: twirling, melting, popping, step-hop.
  • Freeze. Make a wide and high shape, like wings.
  • ‘Fly’ from high to low on your spot (or, if traveling, back to the circle).

 

 

How To Teach:

Formation: Circle or spread to a perfect spot.

Make different shapes: high and wide/big, low and closed/small. Stretch to make big, high shapes.  Bend to make small, low shapes.

Practice the easier movements: jump (two feet), hop (one foot), turn, twist, melt and pop.  Remember to keep your feet under you when you melt, so you can pop all at once or bit by bit.

Practice the challenging movement: step-hop.
Teaching Tip: Sing the Skipping Song melody (also from Songs for Dancing) to practice. “Step on one foot and hop on the same foot, step on the other foot and hop on that foot.”

To end, practice stretching out your wide “wings”, balancing on one leg, and flying from high to low.

Put on the song and go! Keep cuing what’s coming next, to help children stay with the sequence. Encourage variety in ‘do you own dance’ depending on your concept focus.

Extensions:

1. If you choose to develop the skill of moving through space with younger children, you can build up to it. First, do it in self space over several sessions. Then move it from place to place as younger children become more familiar with the structure of the song and competent in their use of space.

2. Turn this idea into a circle dance game, with one child at a time going into the middle to ‘do his/her own dance’ while everyone on the outside copies the moves.  Model the activity by showing one movement in the middle, then leave the circle and come in again with a different choice.  This suggests that the person in the middle do ONE movement choice. Call on raised hands or name the child to invite individuals into the circle.  Invite them out by saying, “Okay, next person.”   Invite shy children to go in two by two. Suggest movements (with a whisper word) to ‘frozen’ dancers.

End with everyone doing their own dance at the same time in their place or in the (crowded!) middle of the circle.

Try Free Dance from Songs for Dancing as the music for this, or other lively music.

This is a great work out!

February 15, 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.

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