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Sample Dance Lesson

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While attending Eastern University in the Spring of 2007, I took a Rhythm and Movements for Children class. Our class hosted nearby schools and homeschool groups so we could demonstrate our lesson plans.  Below, I have included a lesson that I taught to a group of 15 children.

Dancing a Rainstorm

Name: Rebecca Schmidt

Studio/School/Institution: Penn View Christian School

City, State: Telford, Pennsylvania

Teaching Environment: Elementary School Classroom

Age and/or Grade: 8-9 years (3rd grade)

Standards Benchmark Age and grade: 9-10 years (4th grade)

Primary Standards

IV Inter-Connecting, 3c Connect Dance and Other Disciplines

Learn content knowledge in other disciplines through movement experiences. Create movement based on ideas from other disciplines or art forms.

Secondary Standard(s):

I Performing, 2c Movement Skills

Locomotor movement: demonstrate and identify locomotor movements

I Performing, 3a (2) Elements of Dance

Pathways: Dance through space in a straight, curved, circular, diagonal, zigzag, and combination of pathways.                                                                                                                                     

II Creating, 1a Apply Choreographic Principles, Structures, and Processes              

Generate original choreography: Improvise to discover and explore new ways of combining axial and locomotor movements varying the use of the dance elements of space, time and energy.     

IV Interconnecting, 3a Connect Dance and other Disciplines

Respond in movement to a variety of sensory stimuli (sight, sound, touch)

Duration of Activity: 30 minutes

Materials and Supplies Needed:                                                                                                      

Music for Rest and Renewal (with Nature Sounds), The Candlelit Guitarist. Instruments, such as cymbals and drums, which can be used to represent thunder.

Description of Activity:

Introduction to Activity (10-15 minutes)

1.      Introduction to thunderstorms


a.       Discuss rainstorms in detail. Ask students to recall specific rainstorms they remember experiencing and have them share with the class. Allow students to describe how they felt before, during, and after the storm.

b.      Discuss different types of storms and the weather that accompanies them. (For example, during a tornado, it would be very windy outside and during a thunderstorm, one would hear loud booms.)

2.      Warm-up: “Who Has Seen the Wind?” (Kristen Bissinger)


Objective: To stretch and warm up muscles in the waist, sides, back, and shoulders. This exercise is especially applicable to the lesson because it has to do with wind, which is a theme that will be returned to later in the lesson.


Activity: Instructor reads through poem and performs movements once on their own, and then asks students to stand up and join them. Students are to be standing in a circle with their legs about shoulder width apart. Recite poem and perform corresponding movements:

“Who has seen the wind? (Stretch arms above head, shrug shoulders)

Neither you nor I; (Shake head and arms)

But when the leaves hang trembling, the wind is passing by (Sway arms)

Who has seen the wind? (Stretch arms above head, shrug shoulders)

Neither I nor you; (Shake head and arms)

But when the trees bow down their heads, (bend at the waist and let arms hang)

The wind is passing through.” (Swirl arms around)

3.      Model main activity:

a.       Demonstrate how to do the dance. (Do not play the music from the CD, but show the class how you would dance to rain and thunder. For example, use light, airy movements when dancing rain and loud footsteps when dancing thunder.)

b.      Have students become acquainted with the instruments that will be used. Hold up the cymbals and model to the students the correct way to use them. Do the same thing with the drums.

Main Activity (10-15 minutes)

1.      Students will find a spot anywhere in the room, making sure they can still observe the instructor. There should be at least three feet of self space for every person because they will be moving around a lot. Students are told to relax their muscles and picture a spring day in their heads.

2.      The soft “rain” music plays from the CD player. Students are told that this represents the beginning of the rainstorm and are to dance around the room using locomotor movements such as gliding, skipping, and walking. They can move in any direction and in any pathway with any focus. Their energy should be smooth and sustained at first, but one the “storm” begins to pick up, they can use sharper movements. Their speed should be slow at first, but once the beat of the drum is incorporated (to represent thunder); students are encouraged to move faster. They can walk to the rhythm of the drum. Students should be improvising the movements in their own personal way.

3.      Incorporate the drums to represent thunder and gradually add the cymbals to show that the storm is getting more severe and picking up winds. Students can move in zigzags all around the room with sharper movements and stronger weight. They can shake and sway their arms.

4.      After a few minutes of intense thunderstorm, gradually silence the instruments so the only noise left in the room is the light rain music. Have students slow their movements and flow freely around the room until they are back in their original spots. Turn off the music.

Wrap-up (5-10 minutes)

1.      Sit in circle and give students opportunity to talk about which sounds they like to dance to and why. (They are no right or wrong answers.)

2.      Instructor should give feedback about what they observed in the classroom and then relate back to the stories shared at the beginning of class to tie everything in together.

Assessment: Divide students into groups and have them create short dances. This will move the lesson from improvisation to choreographic form. Another form of assessment is to have each group perform their personal improvisational dances for each other.

Adaptations for Diverse Learners: The following are accommodations that could be used for a student who is blind.

1.      The instructor can include the student who is blind in every aspect of the activity. However, instead of having them use locomotor movements around the classroom, they can just non-locomotor movements and remain stationary. This will keep both the student who is blind and the other students safe. A partner could also work with them so they can experience the joy of locomotion.

2.      The use of music for this activity will allow the student who is blind to feel included because they are hearing the same music as everyone else.

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Rebecca Kleeman * 450 Deer Run Court, Royersford, PA 19468 * 215-353-6842