Choreographing a Guided Exploration

You never know how people are going to interpret or use material.  I found it fascinating and fun to discover a choreographed version of  Step on the Beat (the title track from my book) on YouTube.

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!

July 20, 2016. Tags: . What to do with...., Working with Kate's Material. Leave a comment.

Spread the word!

Dear Friends,
You’ve been telling me how Songs for Dancing and Step On the Beat are meaningful and helpful to you.
You can help me get the word out to more people by writing a review on Amazon.

Here are the rules and regulations for customer reviews.

Then, go to my author page and write a review of which ever piece you are excited about.  More than one is fine!

If you are a fan of AlphaBeat, you can review it here on Amazon.
For Brain Bop, review here.

Appreciatively Yours,
Kate

June 13, 2016. Tags: , , , . Working with Kate's Material. Leave a comment.

What to do with…Apples and Oranges (more ideas)

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.

 

Happy Dancing!

 

March 9, 2016. Tags: , , , , . Behavior Management, Teaching Skills, Teaching Tips, What to do with...., Working with Kate's Material. Leave a comment.

Thoughts on building a sequential movement vocabulary in the elementary music classroom

Q: I want to be more intentional about developing a movement vocabulary in my elementary music classes. Which one of your publications would be best for providing a sequence and some activities for doing this? I have all of your books. I just need guidance on where to start.

A: My books and music include many activities that align to concepts in music and dance. A concept-based approach to teaching is more effective and enduring than an activity-based approach. Students learn specific concept-related vocabulary. Teachers can layer on new concepts and vocabulary from week to week.
You, the teacher, can also REPEAT ACTIVITIES in different lessons THROUGH THE LENS OF A DIFFERENT CONCEPT.

Here is a suggested 9-week sequence, organized by concept, rationale, activities, age-ranges, and source material included.

Note:
I always start with a warm up, which may be my second lesson, having captured their interest with something exciting on the first day.

I use Brain Bop for warm ups. Sometimes, for K-1, I change it out with the warm ups on AlphaBeat or Everybody Do This from Songs for Dancing. For the most part, though, I favor the brain-based sequence (Anne Green Gilbert’s Braindance) found on Brain Bop.

  1. Concept: Place (Self & General Space)
    Rationale: To recognize and learn where we are in space, leaving room between self and others, moving and stopping, and traveling safely. The first lesson should be fun and exciting.Activity Examples:
    Step On the Beat (K -5) Step on the Beat
    Action Dance (K-3) AlphaBeat – self-space emphasis
    Do Your Own Dance (K-2) Songs for Dancing

     

  2. Direction (Up/down, Right and Left, Forwards and Backwards)
    Rationale: To learn how to describe and respond to all directional movement, whether moving in self or general space.

Activity Examples:
Sodeo (K-1) AlphaBeat
Apples and Oranges (K-5) Step on the Beat
Over the Top (3-5) Step on the Beat

 

  1. Level (High, Middle, Low)
    Rationale: To learn how to describe and respond to relative distance from the floor.

Activity Examples:
Hinging (3-5) Step on the Beat
Little Seed (K-2) AlphaBeat
Little Birdies (K) Songs for Dancing

 

  1. Spatial Relationships (Over, Under, Near, Far, Between, Around…..)
    Rationale: To understand our relationship to space, self and others in order to move with more skill and awareness. This also builds the vocabulary of preposition words and teaches positive and negative space.

Activity Examples:
Shape Maker/Shape Explorer (2-5) Step on the Beat
Travelers and the Magic Forest (1-2) AlphaBeat
Stick Together Game (K-5) Step on the Beat

 

  1. Expressive Qualities (Energy, Flow, Force, Weight)
    Rationale: To recognize the difference between smooth, sharp, shaky and swinging movement and explore creative ways of changing between these energies as students move in place and through space.

Activity Examples:
Popcorn and Melted Butter (K-2) Songs for Dancing
Imaginary Journey (K-2) AlphaBeat
Action Dance (K-2) AlphaBeat
Show Your Feelings (K-2) AlphaBeat
Near and Far (K-2) AlphaBeat

 

  1. Rhythm & Speed
    Rationale: To make the connection between the music and dance elements of tempo, pulse and pattern

    Activity Examples:
    Trip to the Zoo (Speed) (K-2) Songs for Dancing
    Flea Song (K) Songs for Dancing
    Everybody Do This (K-2) Songs for Dancing
    Apples and Oranges (K-5) Step on the Beat
    Here We Go Round and Round (K-2) Songs for Dancing
    Walking Song (K-2) Songs for Dancing

 

  1. Parts of the Body
    Rationale: To learn body parts vocabulary and explore creative ways of using parts of the body when moving, making shapes and working with others.

Activity Examples:
Hinging (3-5) Step on the Beat
Stick Together Game (K-5) Step on the Beat
Body Shape Jam (K-3) AlphaBeat
Here We Go Round and Round (K-2) Songs for Dancing
Flea Song (K) Songs for Dancing

 

  1. Pathways Floor and Air
    Rationale: To learn that we make patterns on the floor as we travel, and patterns in the air with different body parts, using different levels, directions, and spatial relationships.
     

     

    Activity Examples:
    Step On the Beat (K -5) Step on the Beat
    Down by the Station (K) Songs for Dancing
    Over the Top (3-5) Step on the Beat

 

  1. Shapes: Straight, Curved, Twisted, Angular, Symmetrical and Asymmetrical
    Rationale: To learn shape vocabulary and explore creative ways for use shapes when moving and working with others. Dances begin and end in a shape.

Activity Examples:
Shape Song (K-1) Songs for Dancing
Trees (K-2) AlphaBeat, followed by…
Travelers and the Magic Forest (K-2) AlphaBeat
Stick Together Game (K-5) Step on the Beat
Do Your Own Dance (K-2) Songs for Dancing
Over the Top (3-5) Step on the Beat

 

  1. Locomotor Movement
    Rationale: To learn and recognize the eight basic locomotor movements, individually and in movement sequences.

Activity Examples:
Locomotor Movement (K-5) AlphaBeat
Galloping Song (K) Songs for Dancing
Skipping Song (K-2) Songs for Dancing
Walking Song (K-2) Songs for Dancing

 

 

Other educators share their thoughts: 

Here’s what dance educator Betty A. from Urbana, IL says about her six-week creative dance unit organization:
“I use a variety of resources. But, my top choices would be the Anne Green Gilbert book (Creative Dance for All Ages)* and your resources. Any time someone asks for creative dance resources that is my standard answer. I do concept-based teaching. My focus is creative dance (dance elements -BEST – Body, energy, space, time). I try to teach one dance to all classes to discuss choreography. It might be a folk dance or a dance that we create together. 3rd through 5th grade always has a group choreography project using the concepts we have learned / explored. Of course, I try to cover all of the State Learning Standards, but often cannot get to all of them in 6 weeks.

 

*Kate adds: Anne Green Gilbert created a later publication called Brain-Compatible Dance Education. This book is organized by lesson plan component rather than concept, and included both many Braindance variations (like the material on my Brain Bop CD) AND references to Eric Chappelle’s companion music called Contrast and Continuum, Volumes I – IV. I use both books.

 

Here’s what dance educator Cissy W. from Lafayette, LA says about using my material in her units:

When I started trying to analyze how & when I use your CD’s at my various levels (K-5) and realized it was a very complex thing. I am not absolutely consistent with what I use first. Usually the Welcome Song followed by the Flea Song is a good start with my younger classes. I used to start with the Train Song, but now introduce that later in my sequence when we are studying pathways and sometimes even have 2 or 3 short trains going at once!  If I think they need to calm down and focus, I do the first section of the Brain Dance warm up from Brain Bop. Lately, I have been using the Galloping Song to transition from their table seats to their Poly spots on the dance floor. I use the Action Dance from AlphaBeat to review locomotors and break the ice with my new 3rd graders at the beginning of each 9 weeks. Other things are seasonal: The Haunted House in October, The More We Are Together for Valentine’s Day.

How do YOU organize YOUR dance unit?

January 23, 2015. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Creative Dance Lesson Plans, Elements of Creative Dance, Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance, Lesson Plan Organization, Teaching Tips, Working with Kate's Material. 1 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.

What to do with …. Apples and Oranges

What to do with….
Apples and Oranges (from Step on the Beat)

I’ve talked about Apples and Oranges in other blog posts, connected to teaching galloping, for example.

(If you don’t already have it, you can purchase Step on the Beat through my website, katekuper.com, or from West Music.)

The children asked to include this dance as a favorite activity for our Informance (Open House, informal presentation of a lesson).

We identified “Body Parts and Energy” as the conceptual through-line for the 4 & 5 year olds’ Informance.

For 6-7 year olds, the concept focus was “Body Parts and Shape.”

Here’s how we adapted Apples and Oranges for each age group, conceptual focus, and lesson plan component:

1) For 4-5s, as a Creating activity

Creating includes invention and/or improvisation.  We decided to make the A section focus “Body Parts.”

After learning the clapping pattern A section, we asked the children to suggest using a different body part other than the knees for the ‘slap.’ What should it be?  We performed that part in the section, with the ‘circle round’ that we do in place with younger children (or when we want to go quickly through the dance), where we just turn around on our spot .

After practicing, we chose ANOTHER body part for the second ‘slap.’

Then we put it all together: slap/clap/slap/clap/ And turned the other way for  ‘circle round’//

Time for the B section focusing on “Energy.”

Next, we designated half the group as Apples, half as Oranges. (Since parents were dancing with the children, we had people choose by raise of hands, rather than half and half or every other one).

Leader modeled how Apples would  ‘dance away’ and ‘dance back home’ WITH A SPECIFIC ENERGY while Oranges would stay and clap on the pulse.  We chose swinging movement away, and shaky movement home.

But wait!  Why should the travelers have all the fun?  Those who stayed had to keep the pulse tapping on A SPECIFIC BODY PART.

Everyone practiced.  Then MUSIC GO!

2) For 6-7s as a Developing Skills activity

Developing Skills is about hard-wiring technical abilities and challenging memory within sequence.

First, we focused on Body Parts. We practiced the B section traveling movement in scattered space: side slide with head going up toward the ceiling and center (area of the belly button) drawing a letter “U” with every slide.  Skip with knees lifting up.  Gallop with one foot chasing the other, pointing the toes … like a real chassé!

Second, we emphasized Body Parts and Shape for the A section.
Find a partner and a spot in scattered space. Practice slap & clap.  Add one body part for the slap (idea from the children that we all use) and clap.  Add second part and clap.  Sequence first-part slap/ clap, second-part slap/ clap.  Teach ‘angular elbows’ around for an elbow swing with your partner.  Ask for prediction, when we repeat, what will happen with elbow swing? (We’ll go the other way).

Here comes the shape emphasis.

Decide who is an Apple and Orange in each pair.

Apples will travel.  Oranges will stay.

Travelers will use two of the three locomotor skills we practiced earlier.  (Travel away with the side slides and back with the gallop.)

Oranges will MAKE A BODY SHAPE and keeping the pulse WITH ONE BODY PART (can be audible or visual).  Nod a head! Tap a foot! Bounce into one hip! (Etc.)

All practice shape and keeping the pulse.

Then practice travel and shape/pulse.  Practice trading.

MUSIC GO!  On second travel, skip away and gallop back.

December 14, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Creating, Developing Skills, Elements of Creative Dance, Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance, Recitals, Studio Teaching, What to do with...., Working with Kate's Material. Leave a comment.

What to do with… Step On the Beat (title track)

This is the second in a series of posts offering suggestions for working with specific material in the context of a full lesson plan or as an individual activity.

Step on the Beat is not available for individual download; it is designed to be a complete curriculum package and professional development tool unto itself.

By watching the instructional DVD and looking at the book that comes with the set, you’ll have a very good idea of how to apply my teaching strategies as I demonstrate activities on unrehearsed students, as would be the case in your own teaching environments.

What to do with….

 Step on the Beat (title track: voice-prompted and instrumental-only)

  • Use this as a way to introduce creative movement and dance to children ages 8 and up. Make this your Day 1 activity in the unit. It teaches so many basic elements of dance.

    Before you get children up and moving, talk about self and general space, and the importance of moving through the space as though you were  strangers in a city.  Instead of walking with your friends, imagine that you are ‘a rhythm instrument’ whose job it is to show the pulse (beat) of the music rather than just a person strolling through the room.

      Self space is the space around you.  General space is the space we share.  Optional: Use the image of a  ‘kinesphere’ of space around as you move.  This invisible sphere, with you inside, can expand or contract depending on how close or far you are from other people.

    Get students up and moving to walk on the pulse.
    Remember: Bodies Move, Mouths Don’t!

  • Start the music at this point.
  • Observe your students…. If they are clearly not aware of one another,  teach ‘soft focus.’

      Soft Focus: We also have to be aware of others by using our peripheral vision. Stop and stand in one spot.  How many people can you see if you let your eyes relax? Hold your arms apart and move your fingers.  Can you see your fingers without turning your head?  We see in stereo.  Use your stereoscopic vision as you move through the space.  That way everyone is free and safe in the space.

  • Start the music again, or continue the music at this point.
  •  Form a circle as the music concludes, for Reflection.  Sitting Ready Position or standing, go around the circle and ask about all the contrasting pairs.
    See the Step on the Beat book for many details on this.
    Then ask about the sequence of events, starting with the special musical cues.
    Chain together the sequence and practice it in place, from the circle.
  • Use the Step on the Beat instrumental-only track to repeat the sequence with the special music cues, this time traveling through the space, challenging your students to recall what comes next with little or no prompting from you.
  • Closure: What is a sequence?  How did you know when to start and stop? How did you use Space?  Time? Energy?  Show me a high shape.  Move your high shape to line up……

  • Use this as a treat, after other more challenging tasks have been performed.
    I save certain fun things for “dessert.”  This is one.
  • Choreograph it as a dance with your dance club.  My friend Cissy Whipp, who teaches in Lafayette, LA, does this as a dance with her 5th graders.  Small groups choreograph some of the sections, other sections are danced as whole group activities.
  • Use it as a parent-child activity during an Open House.

  • Share it with a sub (especially if the children already know it).

 

 

 

 

November 12, 2013. Tags: , , , , . Elements of Creative Dance, Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance, What to do with...., Working with Kate's Material. Leave a comment.