15 min Fillers: dance education activities you can do in the classroom without moving furniture

Every teacher can have those dreaded 15-minute gaps at the end of class, when an activity finishes a bit earlier than expected…usually right before lunchtime!  The filler can also be used to change the pace of the classroom or vary the patterns of how you communicate to your class. 

Dance education activities to do in the classroom

dance education activitiesHere are some dance activities that you can use to not only fill in those ‘yawning spaces’, but to teach the dance elements from the Australian Curriculum.  These Dance activities also can be applied to any dance education curriculum from around the world. 

The dance activities have been designed for Primary/Elementary aged students but could be used with any age group with a little adaption.  In many cases it could be the just a change in the music or sound that you use.

These kinds of dance activities assist your students in being quick to improvise and to perceive creating spontaneously in dance as a game. 

Many students are really confronted by exploring their own movement and will want the teacher to be showing them.  With the 15min dance filler you can make movement something that is a part of the normal classroom procedure and take away ‘presentation anxiety’.

Rain Dance Activity

This activity can be done in a short time but may become the basis for a much larger exploration of percussive dynamics.  Think about this dance activity as way to engage your students in thinking about the use of dynamics when choreographing.  For an example of how percussive dynamics are used in dance watch this short dance film

What is percussive dynamics?

Percussive dynamics are high energy movements with a sudden stop.  This may mean something as simple as a clap, a stamp or a karate chop.  You can make sound with the movement as in the case of doing a drum beat on your stomach, but it could just be a powerful gestural movement like a stop sign with your hand.  The secret is high energy!

There are a wide variety of Percussive hand or body movements that can be done on desks, on your own body or on each other’s bodies.  But don’t just limit yourself to making sounds with your percussive movements! 

Have the students explore the dynamics of their bodies as well as the sounds they can make.  This movements may travel through the available space or be non locomotor movements.  If the movement is traveling through the classroom be sure and give the students a safe dance demonstration before you start. 

Start with the students imagining the movement of the wind blowing across dusty plains, then light rain on a field or a river, rain from low clouds, rain from high clouds.  Build to the climax by having thunder rolling in and end with the students freezing in a lightning shape. 

Give students only a little time to explore as you are trying to get them to think quickly.

You can find sound effects of different rain and play it as a stimulus.   A rain stick, a long, hollow tube partially filled with small pebbles or beans that has small pins or thorns on its inside surface, sounds like rain and can be played by the teacher. 

Alternatively, just have them imagine the sound of rain and use their percussive sounds as your soundtrack or put all percussive movement together to a piece of music.  

Use the music to create the kind of atmosphere you are looking for in the classroom.  Here are some music suggestions:   relaxing or  jazz music  or for a younger class  or more upbeat.

Whatever sound you choose make sure that you have it edited and ready to play.  Try to make the final dance only a few minutes long.  Remember you are trying to get them to explore this in only 15-minutes in a small space.

Body Words Dance Activity

This dance activity uses two teams with a word list on the board.  Students are required to spell out the word with their bodies using as many people in their team as possible. 

Dance education activitiesCover the words as they create the shapes to check on their spelling.  Try to use short and longer words; the short ones challenge their creation of body shapes and the longer ones challenge their spelling.

The winner is the team that uses the most people and has the most correct spelling.

As they create their shapes describe the way they are using their bodies by using the language of dance.  For example, you could talk about the use of curved and angular shapes and how some words are angular in how they look on paper.

‘Little’ would be a great example of this. Are there words that look curved and that the meaning reflects that? For example, ‘curvy, smooth, floppy’. 

You could also base this dance education activity on symmetrical and asymmetrical shapes in relation to using Palindromes. 

My favourite word for teaching about symmetry is ‘race car’; I know it’s two words and not strictly a Palindrome, but fun!  Try to get the students to get the word to look like a race car for an added challenge.

These are just a few 15 min Fillers to start you bringing dance and movement into your primary classroom. Many of the activities you do already will be able to be converted to movement activities.  Try to see how many you can adapt to a opportunity to implement the dance curriculum.  More movement in your classroom will always be fun for you and your students.

 Let Dance Teaching Ideas do the dance lesson planning work for you.

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