Things are about to get real in most households in Australia. Locking down with your children doesn’t mean you’ll end up having to be locked up!
Try to remember a time when school was the most fun for you. Yes, when it was play based. When you had opportunities to explore and create things. Finding out that mixing paint colour together made a new colour and that if you mixed in enough it turned into muck.
Now try to think when you have fun now. Yes, when you’re out dancing and having fun with your mates. So, let’s combine the two.
Dancing with your children at home can be fun for everyone if you follow a few simple rules.
1. Don’t take yourself or your position as teacher in the home too seriously. These are stressful times and expecting great things from yourself as an educator is setting yourself up for a fall. The most important thing is that our children feel comforted and loved. How they feel during this time will stay with them long after this crisis is over.
2. How ever long the children want to participate in an activity is fine. Each age group will have different levels of how long they can do one thing.
Learning at home is not an endurance trial. There are no KPIs to fulfil and no one is judging your ability to keep your children engaged in learning.
3. Expect that your children will want to take any learning experience in their own direction. And accept that that is fine. A dress up dancing activity may turn into an impromptu wedding celebration. So, think on your feet and have them create and write menus for the guests or learn a song to sing at the ceremony. (This actually happened with my children!)
4. Each learning activity should leave the door open for the children to ask questions. These questions may come as they look for clarity in how to fulfil the task. What makes sense in your head will not necessarily make sense to them. Try to have an example in mind to give them so they can visualise what you are asking them to do. More questions may also come a day or two days later. You have been thinking about this activity for some time and are all over it. But for the children they may need time to run ideas over in their head and explore further possibilities to solve the problem you have set. These are the really good ones that will show your child’s ability to synthesis and reflect on information and new learning.
5. What they didn’t want to do today they may be ready for tomorrow. If an activity doesn’t work don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Children are just like adults … they can change their minds. We know this with food. They may love sausages one day and want nothing but sausages, and not be able to stomach them in the next week. Remind them of the idea you had in a few days’ time and they may be excited to try. You never know!
6. Above all have fun! Not just the children. You! Get excited about learning something new and pass it on to your children. That’s the virus we want them to catch. I was doing an activity with my granddaughter about living in deserts and we were trying to think about what would grow to eat. Without googling, we had a rich conversation about what it would take to grow edible plants, moving the classroom into the garden to explore how things were growing and why. When we came inside, we googled desert gardens for food and were amazed at how close we had been to solving the problem ourselves. It was a fun, informative and bonding moment of home learning.
So here is an activity you might find fun.
This activity encourages your child to create imaginative stories, explore them through movement and then retell the story using expressive language. I would encourage you to do this as a project over a couple of days with older children. This encourages them to use a process of review of their product rather than settling on their first idea.
Younger children may wish to repeat this over a few times, changing the story and the dance, without a change in objects. The Observation Sheet and storyboard activity can be skipped over for younger children to make the process quick and fun. You can still talk about the questions on the observation sheet to help fire up their imagination.
In this project:
• Create your story using found objects
• Create a dance that tells the story
• Retell or write the story
Introduction (Warm up)
Give each child a small box or basket to collect a range of objects from around the house or in the garden. This can be anything from interesting rocks, shells from a beach visit, leaves, broken bits of toys, ribbons or scraps of paper. Try to encourage your child to be thoughtful about this collection. Turn the object over and really look at it before you choose it.
I try to make the box something special by having them paint it or do collage on it previously to make it more important. Placing a piece of fabric in the bottom of the box or basket makes the items seem precious.
Activity 1. Finding the ideas
• Sort or rearrange the objects into an order or tableau that looks pleasing. This can be in any order.
• Does this arrangement tell a story? Does it look like somewhere you have been before? Does it remind you of a time or an event? Does it make you feel an emotion?
• Write down these observations on a Found Object Observation Sheet you can create at home. Use some of these questions to guide the observation; Do these objects tell a story? Does it look like somewhere you have been before?Does it remind you of a time or an event? How does it make you feel? You can do this activity together.
Activity 2 Planning the story
• Create a story using a story board. Here are a range of templates and instructions for any age group.
• Using this story board have your children tell their story of the Found Objects. They might like to give the story a title.
Activity 3 Creating the dance
• Using the story board as an outline describe the kind of movements that might be used in each part of the dance.
• Create a dance using the descriptions to tell the story.
• Now retell or write the story using the describing words from the storyboard and movement ideas from the dance.
Learning at home is an opportunity to explore life with your children and to learn beside them. Dance opens the door to new ways of learning.