Creating activities and dance tasks for your classes takes time. Having teaching resources that can be used in multiple ways and at the ready can be a real time saver.
Resources that have strong links to the curriculum, engage the children in learning and allow for learning through creativity are highly desirable in any classroom. Here are nine ideas to have on hand to try in your classroom.
Good teaching resources will enhance the learning environment and scaffold dance teaching in the Primary classroom.
1. Problem Solving Movement cards
Creating a movement problem is as easy as looking at the appropriate dance elements, choreographic device and theme for a curriculum level.
Dance Resource Example
If you are teaching Years 5/6, your set of movement cards may include choreographic devices such as abstraction, sequence, repetition, transition, contrast, variation and canon. The focus of the Elements of Dance could be on Dynamics, including force, energy and movement qualities.
A single card could have the words CONTRAST (choreographic Device), ENERGY (Element of Dance) and BUSH FIRES (Theme). The students are then given a range of movement tasks to complete using those components.
Each card has a different choreographic device and Element of Dance however the theme remains the same. You can devise a wide range of ways to use these cards. It could be a an individual, pairs or small group activity.
It could be a quick choreographic activity like ‘Speed Making’ where pairs must choreograph a short phrase of movement using the three components on the card in 5 mins, then repeat with a new partner and choosing another card.
2. Body Part cards
Each card has a different body part and the students take either a single card or a number of cards and must follow the teacher’s instructions using that card.
Dance Resource Example
Instruction could include
- Use the body part to express an emotion
- With a partner connect your body part to make an interesting shape
- Travel to the other side of the room leading with that body part
- Place your right elbow on that body part and move at a low level
- Move using a strong dynamic featuring that body part
- Create an even rhythm using that body part
- Combine the body parts on your card to create a percussive movement
- With a partner move with each other featuring the body parts on your cards
- Create a short sequence using your body part at different levels
3. Learning Walls
Learning Walls are a highly effective and visual way for all teachers to make transparent the Learning Intentions in their classroom. A little like a Mind Map in that it is nonlinear, it allows creative learning activities to grow in many directions, which is why it is so effective in the dance classroom.
They show children what’s really important to learn and how they can improve in tangible ways by demonstrating the task criteria. They encourage reflection on action as the task proceeds not just at the completion of the task. As there are clear feedback cycles it supports students in self-evaluation and implementing teacher feedback.
You need a large wall for a Learning Wall so you can have it visible to refer to and to give you room to spread. There are some very creative ways of getting around this that include putting on a bed sheet that can be rolled up and removed or shifted to another space.
The wall, like your choreography should be co created with your students. Include learning intentions and success criteria that is negotiated with your students. Marking guides help to show students how they are being assessed, emphasising what is important. Modeled responses and Word Walls are also a part of this collaborative teaching resource.
Throughout your lesson students will contribute to the Learning Wall’s success criteria, anchor charts and goals as they develop more complex ideas around the topic of learning.
4. Animal Movement cards
For Early childhood and lower Primary students these are a must! Brightly coloured pictures of animals with movement verbs are useful for a number of different activities.
Try getting your class to create them for you. Their drawings of animals are amazing and you can laminate the cards for repeated use in the classroom.
Come up with the verbs together after exploring the movement in the dance space. This adds to the children’s ownership of the activities you create when you use them in the future.
Try combining two animals together in pairs and think how they could move with a totally different body. Or discuss the environment where they live and how that makes them move; at a low level to travel under dense foliage or quickly, darting between cover as they avoid predators.
5. Elements of Dance Task Cards
There are so many ways to use the Elements of Dance which is why dance looks so different all the time. By breaking down the Elements of Dance into cards with a task to demonstrate the power of that particular component you can save so much teacher time. T
Elements task cards are also great for revision activities at the beginning of each year or each Term.
Having a couple of sets means that you can have tasks that will be relevant for the skill and knowledge of each student and each class. Their ability to do these tasks is also an effective way of assessing the starting skill level of the students in your class.
Dance Resource Example
The cards need to include the Element of Dance, the component of that Element you are focusing on and the task to be done using that Element.
For example, in Year 5/ 6 of the Australian Curriculum: Dance the card could include:
ZIGZAG AND CURVED
PATTERNS IN THE AIR USING ARMS, LEGS AND NOSE TO SHOW CHANGING STATES OF MATTER: USE ‘MELT’ ‘FREEZE’ ‘EVAPORATE’ ‘CONDENSE’.
6. Elements of Dance Bingo Cards
Create a table that has different Elements of Dance in each square. After the students have completed a choreographic task the teacher pulls individual element cards out of a bag and they check it off if they have used it in their choreography. When someone has marked off all the squares they call BINGO and then must show how they have used it in their movement sequence.
7. All About My Dance Worksheet
These worksheets are useful for setting goals for choreography and also for reflecting on choreographic activities. They provide an outline for writing tasks in the older classes and help students to think about the processes they use to create dance.
You can make drawing or single sentence worksheets for students who are in the lower grades as a part of prewriting activities.
Some headings and questions you could include are:
- My goals for this dance piece are…
- I am worried about…
- I am feeling…
- I am looking forward to…
- Doing this choreography, I learned…
- My favourite part is…
- My funniest movement is…
- My dance is saying…
8. Pick a Brain Break Box
Most teachers will have a teaching toolbox full of movement activities for Brain Breaks. Have the activity with the rules listed on laminated cards, that a student can pick out of a box. This takes the responsibility of choice away from the teacher and in the hands of chance!
9. Fast finisher extension cards
Every class has the students who finish before everyone else and are looking for something to do. Having a set of laminated cards with extension ideas that are appropriate for almost any activity. You can base these on choreographic devices or ‘have you thought about’ statements that encourage divergent and further critical thinking about their creative products.
Having a light bulb in the corner supports their confidence that they can have an even better idea. You could also include the element of surprise by having them choose from two different cards.
I always include a ‘Rogue Card’ which is a funny or surprising twist to the activity and often results in the most creative ideas.
Using a range of teaching resources engages students in learning, creating and collaborating in the Primary classroom.
Regardless of which grade you are teaching these teaching resources will add enjoyment and deep learning to your dance classroom. They advance thinking skills and help students to articulate their creative ideas in new ways.
For even more creative dance ideas to use in your home or classroom look at the readymade lesson plans and teaching resources available on Dance Teaching Ideas.