Dance in School Makes Kids Smarter

We know this already, but it’s always nice to have some science to back it up 🙂

How Learning Dance in School Can Produce Smarter Kids by Sheri Leblanc

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“Using dance to teach standard subjects allows students to have fun with the material, but also helps them gain a deeper understanding of concepts by approaching them from new angles. “

“In dance class, Carter explains, students practice physical exercises that “‘stimulate mental alertness, modeling, sequencing, attention to detail, and memorization skills’… —thereby promoting the learning process.” “

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Guidelines for Dance Improvisation

  • Relax – there is no ‘right way’ to move, you are expected to experiment, no judgements
  • Respond to instructions with your body, not your brain (don’t overthink)
  • Take chances, do things that might look silly or weird
  • Physically commit, do your chosen moves with enthusiasm

Use the images in your head to inspire your next movement

DIY Dance: Handshake Dance

A great way to inspire creative movement and begin group choreography.girls-shaking-hands

  • Have students work in pairs (make a group of three if there are an uneven number of students)
  • Instruct students to create a 4-part handshake with their partners
  • Students will choose four movements in which they make contact with their partner (high five, shake hands, touch elbows, etc)
  • Have students practice performing their handshake to the beat of a song, repeating it several times
  • Now ask students to make each of the four parts of their handshake into a larger, dancier movement
  • Have students practice their handshake dance to the beat, but at a slower pace to allow for the new, larger movements
  • Take it a step further by combining pairs into groups of 4-6, and have students re-work their movements to fit the larger group

DIY Dance: Dance Recipe Choreography

The teacher may create a recipe checklist for younger students, but older student may participate in choosing the elements to include in their dance. Here are some ideas of what to include:

  • Name of dance and choreographers
  • Music (and length)
  • Dance moves learned in class (you provide a number, students will list the ones they choose)
  • Dance moves created by students (you provide a number, students will list their choices)
  • Elements of dance to explore (see Elements of Dance Cheat Sheet)
  • Emotions and related gestures to include (based on the music or story narrative)
  • Entrance and exit strategies
  • Group movement conventions (see Elements of Dance cheat-sheet)
  • Costuming/Wardrobe ideas

Here’s a Soccer Dance Recipe Worksheet from a dance done with grades 6-8.

DIY Dance: Stick Together

Based on the ‘Step on the Beat’ video by Kate Kuper http://youtu.be/J90FlKP-YmU

  • Have students spread out in the space
  • The teacher (or a student) will call out two body parts (both elbows, or hand and hip)
  • The students will stick those parts together, and keep them together as they dance
  • The teacher may play music as the students dance in their ‘stuck’ position
  • Repeat with different combinations of body parts
  • Have students connect their body part with a partner or group of other students

DIY Dance: Alphabet Soup

Get students of all ages warmed up with this classic game.

  • Students stand in a circle, facing each other
  • Choose one student to lead. The leader will choose a letter and call it out
  • The other students will find a creative way to make that letter with their bodies
  • You can have students create the alphabet in sequence, in reverse, or try spelling short or long words
  • Try working in pairs or teams to create letters, numbers or shapes