For many cultures, dancing and moving is a fun way to connect with others, express themselves, relieve stress and stay healthy. In our CNC programs, dancing and moving activities can provide opportunities for children to explore their bodies, rhythm and music, socialize, experiment, explore and learn through play – all while developing important physical, social-emotional, cognitive and language skills!
This following list of play extension ideas might also help you find ways to expand on the children’s knowledge and experience! You will also find room setup and other considerations, materials ideas, and resources at the bottom of the page.
- Explore the science of movement and flexibility ( through ballet, Samba, yoga stretches) How far can we stretch and move our body parts? What parts of our body are we using when we do this or that…?
- Explore balance
- Explore the science of sound and rhythm through movement (ie: slow/fast beats, loud/quiet music, high/low) How are we able to hear music?
- Encourage children to watch themselves in the mirror while dancing or moving.
- How do different animals move their bodies and why do they move differently?
- What happens to our shadows when we move? This can be done outdoors with sunlight, or inside with a spotlight.
- Help children understand the rhythm of music with a variety of feet and hands movements
- Count the beats of music through stepping, clapping and/or exercising . How many movements per beat or song can we do in a particular exercise or dance?
- Provide clothing and costumes from a variety of cultures for dancing. Include a variety of fabric, head wear, shoes, jewelry, bracelets and anklets, belts and waist bands.
- Provide a mirror for children to see themselves in the clothing and costumes
- Provide a camera to take pictures and display for the children to see themselves.
- Create a yoga studio or an area for peaceful movement and relaxation
- Create a dance studio for different types of dance, from jazz to ballet and have a display board of ideas for different movements and stretches for the children to try.
- Create a music and sound exploration area where you provide music from different cultures, microphones, tape recorders, CDs and musical instruments like drums shakers to explore.
- Create a dancing or singing “stage” area
- Create an area in the dance or yoga studio to sell costumes and other items.
Culture and diversity
- Set up a variety of materials that are diverse and represent the cultural groups in your program
- Create a display board that shows how different cultures express themselves through dance and movement.
- Put together an album with a variety of dance and movements from diverse cultures. Talk about the history and origin of these dances with the children.
- Provide a variety of materials with colors, textures, design, beads, that are interesting. Use the opportunity to have conversations and follow the children’s lead to explore new ideas and concepts.
- Collect a variety of books and magazines that show diverse and rich movement and dance from around the world. Here are some examples:
- Samba – Brazil.
- Square Dance- NewFoundland Canada
- Flamenco – Spain.
- Dragon Dance – China.
- Viennese Waltz – Austria.
- Hopak — Kiev, Ukraine.
- Adumu “Aigus” — Kenya and Tanzania.
- Zaouli mask dance – Ivory Coast.
- Haka – New Zealand.
- Hip Hop- Bronx in USA
- Bongo – India
- Salsa – Cuba
- Pow- Pow – Indingeous people
- Ballet -originate from Italy
- Dragon Dance – China
- Create a virtual tour or take the group on an adventure to discover movements and dance from different countries. Start with Canada, where we have the drumming and traditional dance of Indigenous peoples
- Consider other materials that can be used for movement (ie:balls, mats, ribbons, poles, shoes)
- Explore the unknown. What cultures do not include dance and movement and why? If dancing is not part of their culture what do they do instead?
- What diverse groups are in your neighbourhood? When it comes to dance and movement what are they known for?
- Did you know Haka dance originated in New Zealand and is performed only by men. This is an opportunity to create your own Haka with the children. And talk about whether there are any other dances or costumes that are traditionally gender-specific.
- Display pictures of families taking part in dance or movement.
- What are the family traditions within your group?
- Did you know that in some countries and cultures it is illegal to dance? Do all the groups in your program dance or have movement in their culture?
- Children can create their own dance or movement, or share a traditional dance from their home country.
- Invite a community or family member to come teach the children a specific dance or movement.
- Consider taking a trip to a dance studio to take in dance class.
- Set up a display area where families can share some of the traditional dances, movements and costumes from their culture.
- Host an exercise class for the children and parents together
- Put on a puppet show that includes dance and movement. Afterwards, encourage the children to play with the puppets and put on their own shows!
- Host a dance and movement day where families can demonstrate their skills
- Have a local dancer or figure skater come and introduce some movement and dance to the children (and maybe even parents!). For example, how does a ballerina stand on her toes? Or maybe learn a dance, fancy footwork, or some beautiful hand movements from different countries!.
- Learn some words of song from different cultures.
- Go to a local gym or fitness/community center
- Have a local community center send families free trials.
- Connect with someone in the community who is skilled at the art of Tai Chi. The can demonstrate the movements to the children and talk about how it helps the mind and body.
Gross motor and movement
- Do some warm-up exercises and stretches before dancing
- Incorporate some strengthening exercises and squats,
- Use different parts of your body to move while dancing. For example, shake your elbows.
- Children can take part in a variety of dance and movement from other cultures around the world. Tango, Fox trot, ballet, Breakdance, samba. Haka, freestyle, Quick step, Cha-Cha
- Dance with scarves where you throw and catch them, twirl or clap
- Dance to different types of music and beats
- Pretend to figure skate or be a cheerleader with pom-poms. Children can choreograph their own movements!
- Set us a space for gymnastics – provide ribbons and music!
- Create an obstacle course
- Create your own “balance beams” with tape on the floor
- Use tape or chalk to create hopscotch
- Provide opportunities for jumping off different heights of risers and talk about how to jump safely
- Tai Chi – demonstrate some of the movements and talk about how they make you feel
- Explore dancing to slow and fast music
- Explore different types of jumping, 1 foot, 2 feet, high low
- Play musical chairs
- Dice movement games – for example, if you roll a 6 and you have to jump. To make this game easier for small children, you can tape pictures of different movements to a big block for children to roll!
- Try superhero movement games
- Shadow dancing
- Flashlight movement
- Glow in the dark movement
- Create a tape maze for children to crawl through
- Bean bag dancing
- Dancing with partners
- Puddle jumping – either outdoors or inside where you create paper “puddles” on the floor and encourage children to use different types of movement or dance moves to get over the puddles.
- Hula hoop dancing and movement
- Place paper footprints around the room for children to follow
- Make movements with hands and fingers while holding scarves and ribbons, twirling sticks and/or balls
- Trace on fabric to music
- Play musical instruments
- Sort materials and costumes
- Writing or draw dance poses
- Use a camera to take pictures
- Children build confidence as they explore their bodies and express themselves through movement/dance
- Children can work together to create their own movement/dances
- Encourage partnerships and creativity coming up with new way to use the materials
- Talk about how different music and movements make us feel. How does soft/slow music make you feel? How does fast/louder music make you feel? How do you feel when you dance/move like this or that?
- Sing “If you are happy and you know it” but stop to let each child tell everyone one thing that makes them happy or sad
- Explore rhythm and sound. Encourage the children to find/create a rhythm or type of sound that makes them feel happy!
- Host a dance and movement session. Get others to join you! (Staff, parents or someone from the community.)
- Try putting bells on your hands and feet, or put on a belly dance belt! Children can listen to the sounds of the bells as they move, tap their feet and/or clap their hands.
- Provide face paint and mirrors. Ensure materials are not too harsh for the children’s skin. At the same time, think about how other cultures paint faces for dances. Display pictures so the children can see how it’s done in different countries.
- Use different types of fabric in all different textures and colours to dance and move with. (ie: ribbons, scarves, and lace)
- Let the children dance, play, crawl or walk on bubble wrap. Observe as the children explore the sound the bubble wrap makes.
- Create a marching band that creates, moves and dances to different beats.
- Listen to a variety of music from other cultures. Encourage the children to try singing some of the words.
- Sing songs in different languages. Teach children how to sing row row your boat in Farsi, or mandarin, or an Indigenous language.
- Explore the idea of silence as the children sit still in a yoga pose. After a few minutes, children can talk about what they heard.
Art and creative
- Create costumes for a dance parade using a variety of fabric, textures and paper
- Paint to different types of music and sounds
- Movement painting or colouring – encourage jumping while painting or standing on one foot.
- Create face masks to add to the children’s costumes. Look at masks, headwear and costumes used for dance in different cultures
- Introduce dancing and moving related words in different language such as:
- Fast- slow
- Right- left
- Tai Chi
- Post these different words in areas around the room.
- Ask parents to share some of these words in their home language so that you can use them during the children’s play.
- Combine storytelling with movements that you would find in yoga practices.
- Introduce new words in the songs you dance to.
- Use movement to teach things like syllables.
- Use dance to act out stories such as the three little pigs or the hungry caterpillar
- Read books such as “Snow dancing” or “Giraffes can’t dance”
Different material ideas:
- Hats, head ties
- Jewelry for the face, head, hands and feet
- Bells for feet and hands
- feathers and beads
- Pants, frilly shirts and blouses, dresses
- Tutus, leotards, leggings and/or stockings
- Belts, sweatbands, wristbands
- Different kinds of shoes (ie:sneakers, tap, ballet)
- Face paint and mirrors
- Towels, brushes and combs
- Bags to carry costumes and exercise or dance clothing
- Posters, pictures, magazines of people dancing and moving
- Musical instruments – ie: steel pan drums, hand drums, shakers, flute/whistle/recorder, castanets, maracas, tapping sticks
- Fabric and yarn
- Sidewalk chalk
- Bean bags and balls
- Hula hoops
- skipping ropes
- Bamboo sticks
- Stuffed animals
- Music in different languages
- CDs and CD player, headset
- Story/song books in a variety of languages
- Display shelf for costumes, cash register, credit cards, money.
Room setup and considerations
- Hang free flowing, colorful curtains in the space to give a different atmosphere.
- Make sure children have enough space – consider shifting furniture out of the way if you are going to set up a dance or yoga studio.
- Take the dances or movement activities outdoors if possible. Being out in nature can be a benefit and provide a different experience for the children.
- Use movement and dancing during transitions such as “silly dancing clean up time” or “animal walking to the bathroom”