Using dances to encourage preschoolers to strengthen a range of muscle groups is fun for the students and for the teacher. Participating in a range of movement activities is highly beneficial for this age group. However these activities don’t need to be laborious or require you to have a PE teachers whistle.
Star jumps are always optional unless you are making a dance about the night sky. Creating a theme or telling a story through dances for preschoolers is a good way to focus on a particular muscle group without your children becoming restless or disengaged.
Dance play and storytelling through movement is a engaging way to help children develop strong, active bodies.
Dances for Core strength
Having strong core muscles is important for developing the stability needed to sit at a desk and for participating in fine and gross motor activities. The core muscles include the muscles around the abdomen, pelvis and back and act a little like a girdle in holding the body upright when sitting or standing. These postural muscles provide the basis for the control of the head, shoulders, elbow, wrists and fingers which are essential for daily tasks.
You can identify children with poor core strength by their slouching posture in a chair or their inability to sit still. They may experience difficulties on see saws and swings where the object they are sitting on is not stable. Other signs of weak core muscles can be fatigue, avoidance of tumbling types of play and struggling to get on and off the ground.
Tiddalik the Frog Dance for Preschoolers
Tiddalik the Frog is an Aboriginal story that can be read to the children before engaging in this dance activity. The music and a range of other written material can be found here. You’ll find a range of versions of the song that can be used to create your dance and then the children can sing along.
- Begin your dance by adventuring into the bush. Set up a bush obstacle course by placing pillows on the floor for rocks by the creek and create water lily pads with Poly Spot place marker. The children balance-walk over the rocks and jump like frogs between the lily pads. Stick frog feet shaped hand markers on the wall from a low level to a high level so the children can pretend to climb up the wall.
- The words to the song use swish, slop, plop and rumble. The movements for these, standing on the spot, are:
Swish – big arm swings from side to side using the torso
Slop – marches picking up the knees high
Plop – bending and straightening the knees while raising and lowering the shoulders
Rumble – making fast train movements with the arms (fast and furious)
Superhero Dances for Preschoolers
‘Superheroes’ is an interesting theme to explore with pre-schoolers, that provide opportunities to find out what they think makes a superhero. Many children identify with the humanity in the superhero as much as their ability to fight off the baddies. Or perhaps it is the transformation from ordinary person into someone with superpowers that they connect with.
The ideas that the children come up with will guide the narrative you use when you are creating this dance.
The Superman Theme by John Williams is appropriate music for this dance and has that epic feel that children love. You can even get them to put on their capes before they start the dance.
Alternatively, they could decide on a single item of clothing that is symbolic of the qualities of their hero. For example, if they were crusaders against climate change, they might where a big hat.
- Begin the dance with a call to action. The start with their ‘every-man on the street pose’, this should happen at a low level. Make a superhero pose at a high level, gradually changing into a shape that reveals their superpower. Encourage it to be something other than flying as all our superheroes will be able to fly.
- They then fly to the problem. To do this have them lying on their tummy, with arms stretched out. Try to have them lift their arms and legs off the floor with their palms facing down. Get them to lift for just a few beats of the music, they can increase this time as they get stronger.
- Next the children make ‘fight with baddies poses’. These need to be strong shapes with bent knees, using a wide, strong body base. As they grow in strength, encourage them to try balancing with one leg lifted.
You may like to have some set poses as well as the ones they devise for themselves. Consider using isometric style use of arms such as squeezing palms together or pushing down on bent knees with the palms of your hands.
Use at least 4 or 5 of these poses that the children can move between once they have held them for 8 counts of the music. You can repeat this several times as the children increase their muscular stamina.
- Finish the dance by getting the children to pat themselves on the back for a job well done. This action stretches out some of the muscles used throughout the dance. Make sure they change hands to do this action to equal up the stretch on both sides.
Both dances will need you to participate and model ideas for movement with the children. The more active you are the more active the children will be.
Children’s engagement in activities that are physically challenging really need the teacher to be involved and enthusiastic. It’s great exercise for you!
Dance Teaching Tip
Always remember to do a cool down and dynamic stretch at the end of each dance class. You children will need to be settled before they can return to a seated learning activity. Re-establishing focus is a crucial part of the structure of a dance class.
These dances are fun and educational and will build a strong relationship between teacher and student. Children share the experience of participating in an active and engaged lifestyle as a part of a living learning environment.
For more creative dance ideas to use in your home or classroom look at the ready-made lesson plans and teaching resources available on Dance Teaching Ideas.