by Kristin Burke
Some conversation take-aways & tips
As early childhood dance teachers, we find richness in classroom transitions as opportunities to use dance. Transition dances can include freeze/copy/movement dance or song with added motions. Simple dance movements (such as marching, tip-toe, etc) can also be used to transition from one physical space to another.
To support the needs of each child, try turning your “teacher request” into a goal that is something interesting or a fun challenge; this is especially helpful for 4-to 5-year-olds. Children, especially young ones, benefit from proprioception feedback and activating their vestibular system. Activities to help students in need of more touch include tug of war, tension, feel their bodies, “body surfing” for contact/touch.
As educators and dance advocates, we find it is necessary, and sometimes challenging, to find ways to distinguish dance time from other times in the classroom. In the classroom, perception of safety is critical. Dance time has different rules than other times of the day. A dance “container” can be established by holding a ritual at the beginning of the dance time, with the teacher reminding students that this is a special time for dancing and that dancing has different rules than classroom time. A simple sound (bell) or light cue can also serve as a transition to dance time.
Storytime is a great opportunity to use movement and integrate dance into “non dance” times. Books such as From Head to Toe and Barnyard Dance are good resources. Free dance can be used with children as a way to encourage and invite children to stay in their bodies. Music ideas for dance include movie soundtracks and anything instrumental or dramatic.
Kristin Burke is a lead teacher with Urban Montessori Charter School. True to Maria Montessori’s vision, Kristin feels committed to education that begins in the body and reveals itself through purposeful, connected, and creative movement.