Dance is fun! However, sometimes we get caught up in outcomes, assessment, and curriculum. Being creative, learning, and moving your body are the things children enjoy the most. Here some ideas to bring back the joy in your classroom for you and your students.
Why is having fun important in a dance class?
When having fun is combined with the creativity of dance you are promoting both health and academic performance. (Norris et al, 2015)
• Having fun leads to the retention of content and improvements in long term memory (Hidi, 2011)
• The more engaged children are they are more likely to be inquisitive and creative.
• Children experience the joy of success and the experience a sense of belonging through shared, enjoyable experiences with classmates.
Every teacher wants children interested, engaged, creating, and learning.
If we are asking the question about how to make dance class fun, we may have forgotten about the importance of play and building community in all classrooms.
Top ideas to make dance class fun
Don’t just stick to a traditional dance lesson format. Mix it up. The dance lesson could be about solving a mystery, building, or inventing something, or even discovering something based on clues.
Your warmup doesn’t always have to be just dance. You might try icebreakers and games that come from a Drama perspective. If it’s about movement it will warm them up.
Start with what they already know. Children are far more willing to have fun if they feel confident with something. Don’t be afraid to repeat activities with different themes using skills from previous lessons.
Let the children take the lead. This could be in the planning stages of the activity or making the rules of the dance game together. However, for children to feel empowered and like they are making their own enjoyment of the activity, they need to have some say in the direction of the class.
Find what they are interested in. As with any kind of play, students will enjoy what they are interested in. Whether it’s the investigation of a theme, a music style or artist, a dance genre, or even a kind of technology being used as part of the lesson, it is important to find what interests them.
Be seriously playful. Your approach to the class will affect the atmosphere of the class. Find more opportunities to play in every class. Being full of playfulness, wonder and interest will build an infectious mood of joy in learning.
Not win or lose dance games. Using games that facilitate students finding out something new about themselves are more useful than competitive ones. Inclusive learning results in each child having a positive experience.
How do you know if students are having fun in your class?
Many children, particularly those in upper Primary, are reserved about expressing their delight in front of others. You need strong reflective activities that make their ideas and feeling more transparent.
These reflective activities are an essential part of planning as they let you know the direction in which to head. They signal to the students that you are interested in hearing their opinions and finding out about how they experience your classes.
Some ways you can find out these ideas are;
A dance diary or journal entries
Open ended narrative writing activities
Many of the resources for these kinds of reflective activities are included as a part of the resources in the DTI Membership Service.
Having fun in the Primary dance classroom
Fun in your Primary school dance class can enhance the learning experience for your students. Their enjoyment equals more engagement.
A playful approach to dance activities will help access your inner child and rekindle your creativity. In turn your love of movement and dance will make your dance classroom a place of co creation and collaborative learning.
Hidi, S., & Renninger, K. A. (2011). The four-phase model of interest development. Educational Psychologist, 41(2), 111-127.
Norris, E., Shelton, N., Dunsmuir, S., Duke-Williams, O., & Stamatakis, E. (2015). Physically active lessons as physical activity and education interventions: A systematic review of methods and results. Preventive Medicine, 72, 116-125. doi:0.1016/j.ypmed.2014.12.027