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5 Easy Lessons for Making a Christmas dance

Are you thinking about teaching a dance for the end of year Christmas performance?  In this article you will learn how to structure a practical student choreography and discover how easy and rewarding this can be.  

Dance is a celebration in itself.  It gives children the chance to reflect on, explore, and express their feelings and emotions about the last part of the year.

By using these 5 simple but engaging dance activities in your Primary classroom, you can create a performance that is an entertaining, collaborative learning experience.  If you are looking for a final piece of dance performance and choreographic assessment this can fulfill that wish as well.

A real Christmas present for teachers!

This Christmas dance may be adapted for Years 3 – 6, different age groups will require different levels of support.

Christmas dance theme

The Christmas dance performance is a way that children can enjoy making and performing as a summary of what has happened throughout the year.  This dance is based on the themes of Gratitude and Friendship and celebrates these two important parts of Christmas.

Two major events could be happening in this lead up to Christmas, which is when you will be preparing for the performance.  In some classrooms around the world, Thanksgiving will probably still be a part of the preparations at this time of year, but for many, this will signal graduating to the next year level with a new class and new teacher. Within the theme of Gratitude and Friendship both these events are celebrated.

If you would like to create learning activities using a Thanksgiving Dance or about end of year movement activities these are some additional simple dance ideas for your classroom.

Christmas dance performance

Planning your Christmas dance

Ideally the preparation for this dance should begin about five weeks before the performance if you are doing a 45 min class once or twice a week.  However, it can be done in a week if you are doing advance lesson every day.

To ensure that you stick to a project timeline plan for this dance together with your students.   How will the timeline for creation of the dance and rehearsal look?

Whether you are planning for assessment outcomes or not, you need to set goals for the dance to ensure the children are confident to perform.  What are the checkpoints you need to have along the way?

Involving the children in  designing a timeline to the performance with tasks and goals they need to hit for certain lessons.  This is a chance to implement project based learning into your dance class.  It leads to a more authentic approach to dance creation and production as it is collaborative and involves practical problem solving.

This timeline will support the 5 steps of the choreographic process.  You can use these steps as a framework for your timeline.

Step 1 The value of ‘thank you’

How do we say thank you?  As a class discuss how you thank people.  Create a word bank of ‘thank you words’ in many languages

Older students can research this themselves to find how to say thank you in a language that has some personal meaning to them.  This could be a part of their cultural background or just a culture they are interested in.

  • The dance begins with the children coming on stage saying thank you to each other in many languages. They walk onto the stage in small groups saying thank you to each other with a smile.
  • This can be without music and encourage them to explore gestures that may accompany the words. They use locomotor movements in curved pathways throughout the space.
  • As they explore the movements further encourage them to reply with a ‘your welcome’ movement. As their movements become more exaggerated using the Dance Elements the music begins.
  • This section ends with them finding a partner.

Step 2 Noticing what’s important

In this lesson the children decide what they are grateful for. If they are having trouble thinking of things you could brainstorm as a class.  Try going through the alphabet and finding something for each letter.  For example, A – being Able to breath air, B – having a Bed to sleep in.

For older students, they could think about more specific things.  Not just grateful for my family but for the ways they support me when I am having a difficult time.

  • With a partner, create a sequence Christmas dance lesson planof movements that show the things you are grateful for.

What emotions do they make you feel? How could you show that emotion in movements?

Each performs this in their own space.

Step 3 Doing the appreciating

How do you express your appreciation other than saying thank you?

  • In groups of four, create unison movements that show these ideas.
  • Join each piece of the group choreography. This section is performed in unison so try to encourage these movements to be mainly non locomotor movements – using high, middle and low levels and different rhythms and shapes.
  • Finish the final movements of this section by the group dividing back into pairs.

Step 4 Helping each other

How can friends support each other?

In this section the children explore taking weight through connected shape making.   This could be joining hands with little ones or resting on different body parts.  For older students they could explore leaning on each other, counterbalance activities or giving or supporting weight.

Easy Christmas dance


  • In pairs create movements that support or take the weight of each other or different body parts. Use a range of shapes that represent supporting your friends.  Explore how you will move from one shape to the next smoothly.


Prior to commencing this activity, the class needs to discuss at length the safety aspects of partnering in dance.

Some other areas to discuss could include but may not be limited to:

Excessive range: A movement that forces a body part beyond the safe range.  Joints are vulnerable to hyperflexion.

Excessive load: Movement that places too much weight on a joint or muscle.

Sustained Holding: Holding the body in one position when putting stress on a joint or muscle.

Repetitive Movement: Too much repetition of the same movement can be dangerous.  This is risky during choreographic exploration and rehearsals of partnering movements.


  • This section finishes with all the children doing a circular locomotor movement together around the space. They can decide on any joyous travelling movement.  For example, young children may choose to skip and older children may create a series of leaping, rolling, and galloping movements.

Step 5 Coming together

How do we connect with each other?

This final piece of the choreography is to create a formation that becomes the finishing pose for the dance.  It is performed as a canon as each child leaves the circular movement to form a shape in the middle of the space, facing the audience.

  • In pairs create a shape that represents friendship. It needs to have at least two body parts connecting and use different levels.  The pair makes eye contact with each other in this frozen shape.
  • As a class connect the pairs ‘friendship shapes’ together in a line along the front of the dance space facing the audience.

Easy Christmas dance Create a string of paper hearts for each child in the class and at the end of the dance unfold them in front of the shape.  The hearts can signify whatever is important to your class – it could be that each child puts a heart into a jar during the choreography process when they witness an act of kindness from a classmate.

Take a photo of this final pose and give each child a photo at the end of the year.

Putting it all together

When you are planning for this performance make sure you leave enough time for rehearsal as this will ensure that the children are confident and proud to perform their work.

There are production details that you can decide collectively with your class

  • What will you call the dance?
  • What music will you use? You may want to edit several pieces together to capture the mood of the dance. It is sometimes better to use instrumental music to focus the attention on the meaning of the movements rather than the lyrics.
  • How will you rehearse it? Here are some lesson plan ideas for dance rehearsals.
  • What will you wear?

These are just a few ideas to help you create a rewarding and exciting making and performing experience for your class.  By helping the children plan this activity they learn about planning, task completion, professional dance practice and art production.  These activities are sure to make your end of year dance performance more meaningful then just learning steps.

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