This week I worked with several challenging 1st grade groups in the music room. Not a big room, and at least 4 students had poor impulse control.
However, I wanted to do The Stick Together Game (from Step on the Beat) as a follow up to teaching Body Shape Jam (from AlphaBeat) for a lesson on Body Parts. This would involve traveling, stopping, connecting parts, then traveling again with parts connected.
Here’s how I set them up for traveling. First, we did a call and response of “General Space, Go!” with voice and gesture, clapping the syllables of ‘general space,’ and pointing across for ‘go.’
Next, I demonstrated traveling, with words recited rhythmically, while playing the pulse on my hand-held drum:
Move into the empty space/ bodies moves-mouths don’t/ listen for the stopping sound/ stop on your spot//
Each short phrase was 4 beats long, so the demonstration was 2 8’s long, which is a good duration for general space traveling practice. The last 4 counts included shaking the drum to indicate the stop was coming and playing a strong double beat to indicate stop.
I kept my key words to address body control, spatial awareness, and listening skills, which are crucial to success.
Then, we did it as a group, with my words and drum. A third practice was ‘drum talk’ only.
Happy to say that, when we did the group activity in general space, it was a success.
I might add that my locomotor choice for this activity started with walking on the pulse. We could graduate to gallop or skip if students demonstrated the crucial success skills. But not the ‘r’-sounding one (let the children figure that out themselves!)
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Kindergarten through 2nd grade
Note: Adaptable for older preschoolers and grades 3-4
Gross motor skills are the building blocks of movement combinations, important for physical fitness enjoyment, play, coordination and brain health.
Group movement in general space encourages students to use awareness and self control in a communal setting. These skills translate into better interactions on the playground, in the hallways and the lunchrooms.
Teaching locomotor movement is important for all these reasons.
A crucial skill is the ability to successfully guide students as they travel through the general space. This requires using clear language and smart strategies that help students build motor coordination while still being safe.
Awareness of others; self control
Use concentration and body control.
Move into the empty spaces, so you don’t get hurt.
Use your peripheral vision, your soft focus. Eyes everywhere.
Bodies move, mouths don’t.
Awareness of the space
“This is the area for movement and these are the boundaries.”
Jog the periphery (or have a student demonstrator do it) to show the boundaries.
If the space is too big, set up a spatial barrier (e.g. traffic cones)
If the space is too small, take turns. Watchers sit in ready position, hands in laps, while Movers travel around and between.
Clear signals for starts and stops
Teach your signals and use them consistently.
Stops: When I guide children to move on a slow or medium speed, a double-beat on the drum is enough to signal ‘Freeze.’ For faster movement, first shake the drum to alert them that the Freeze sound is coming, then play the double-beat for stillness.
Starts: Stand up. Listen to the drum (or voice) for the speed and pulse of the movement.
Speak on the pulse, over the sound of the drum: “One, two, ready, start.” After a while, the drum can do all the ‘talking.’
Clear signals for transitions.
As we change from one thing to another in a movement sequence, give advanced notice, several beats ahead.
Choices and Consequences
Don’t be afraid to stop the music/activity, have everyone sit, ask the children to tell you why you stopped the activity, review concentration and body control, and invite everyone to start again.
“If you don’t think you have the body control for this activity, you may sit here or here.”
Always invite the person who sat out to come right back in on the next activity. This is not a punishment, but an opportunity to observe what others are doing accurately.
Setting Up Instruction for Locomotor Movement (from AlphaBeat)
There are eight basic locomotor movements: walk, run, hop, jump, gallop, side slide, skip and leap.
Students begin in a seated position, in a circle or in scattered space.
Move your arms like an old fashion locomotive train and say: Locomotor movement goes from one place to another.
Do this as a call and response several times.
Check for understanding: What do you call movement that goes from one place to another?
Next, call on individual students to model different forms of locomotor movement by traveling around the inside of the circle, so that all can see.
Connect the exploration to letter sound recognition, as modeled in the following examples.
Change students each time.
To address diverse strengths in your students, you might have one student name the movement, and another demonstrate it.
I’m thinking of a locomotor movement that we all use to go from one place to another that starts with the “w” sound? What is it? (Select one student to model “walk).
I’m thinking of a locomotor movement we use to go quickly from one place to another that starts with the “r” sound? (Student models “run.” Or you could say “j” sound for “jog”)
I’m thinking of a locomotor movement we do on one foot that starts with the “h” sound? (Student models “hop”).
I’m thinking of a locomotor movement we do on two feet that starts with the “j” sound? (Student models “jump”).
I’m thinking of a locomotor movement that ponies do that starts with the “g” sound? (Student models “gallop”).
Now that we are all going to be moving through the space, it’s time to learn about general space –
General space is the space we share as we travel from one place to another.
When you move through the general space, you’ll need body control and concentration.
Let’s scoop up a little concentration dust and rub it in.
You’ll also want to be like a potato…. eyes everywhere, but no mouth.
Remember to move into the empty spaces so you don’t get hurt.
Stand tall one and all.
Let’s travel through the general space doing these locomotor movements. My drum will talk to you with the pulse of the movement. When you hear the freeze sound, stop! Let’s walk……(freeze) Let’s do the movement that goes on one foot….hop! (freeze) Let’s do the movement that starts with the ‘g’ sound….gallop (freeze). What locomotor movement starts with the “j” sound and uses two feet off the ground? Jump…. (Freeze). Good job moving into the empty spaces!
Sit ready position.
Now play the song! You have prepared the group to be successful.
Note: The last locomotor movement in the song is RUN.
Options for this:
1) Divide the group in half. Half will sit while the others run the boundaries. Then trade.
2) All run the boundaries.
After the song, take time to breath and recover. The song recaps the different locomotor movements musically. This can be a time when students are breathing. Use some of the language connections for summative reflection.