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 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.

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.

Song Picture Books

I am a member of the Children’s Music Network.  This incredibly generous group of people are primarily music presenters to audiences of all ages. I enjoy learning from and sharing with this delightful community from all across the America. Some focus exclusively on early childhood and primary students. I joined the organization because my work straddles both the worlds of dance and music. The only difference is perspective. Most of the members add movement to song.   I add song to movement!

One CMN member is Nancy Schimmel.  Nancy put together a list of picture books that are singable songs. I think they’d be a fun resource for reading and singing….and dancing.
I haven’t worked with the list yet.  I’m sure you’ll get some ideas for ways of working with these songs.  When you do, please share with the rest of us!


Here’s Nancy website:  http://www.sisterschoice.com

If you are interested in learning more about CMN, visit their website, too. http://www.cmnonline.org/

November 24, 2013. Tags: , , , . Creating, Favorite Books. Leave a comment.

Lesson Ideas for 3 – 5 year olds

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.

February 1, 2013. Tags: , . Creative Dance Lesson Plans, Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance, Resting, Working with Kate's Material. 1 comment.