Monday, June 27, 2011

A Dance Activity Bubbling Over With Pastabilities

I love creating dance lessons that are fun, silly and connect to activities my students do at home. I also love to connect dance to literature. When I can connect the two - it is quite delicious!

This lesson was inspired by the book Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola. In the book, Strega Nona (grandma witch) boils pasta with just a few simple magic words. But when her handyman overhears these enchanting words he tries his hand at using the magic pot. But unfortunately he doesn't know how to make it stop!

Children love to eat spaghetti. And they love stories. Even better, they love stories about noodles taking over a tiny village in Italy.

The Magic Pasta Pot Activity
Read the children the story. (If you can not find the story you can still do the activity but if you can get the story it is a keeper!)

A quick summary of the important details of the story:

The magic words to make the pot boil with pasta:

"Boil, boil pasta pot,
make me pasta nice and hot,
I'm hungry and it's time to sup,
boil enough pasta to fill me up."

The magic words and gesture to make the pot stop:

"Enough, enough, pasta pot,
I have my pasta nice and hot
So simmer down my pot of clay
Until I'm hungry another day"

And blow three kisses to the magic pasta pot!

Now let the fun begin!

The poor handyman peaked in through the window and saw Strega Nona say the magic words to cook her dinner. He even saw her say the magic words when she wanted the pot to simmer down. But he did not see her blow three kisses into the pot! Recreate this part of the story.
  1. Make a big circle on the floor ( I like to use painter's tape. Easy to tape down and even easier to pull up!)
  2. Have all the children stand in the center of the circle.
  3. Say the magic words with the children.
  4. Have the children slowly bubble out of the pot. (You might want to ask them before the activity starts to list some action words that describes how spaghetti moves or how they eat spaghetti. Examples might include: wiggle, squirm, slurp, twirl, flop, etc.)
  5. Say the magic words but do not blow the three kisses.  (Make sure they know if you do not blow the kisses they should not stop dancing!) 
  6. Encourage them to "take over" the space. The spaghetti will not stop.
  7. Finally say the magic words again and blow three kisses!  When the children see the kisses they should run back into the "pot."
To add an extra fun element to the activity give each student a box of spaghetti to take home with them so they can have pasta for supper!!

Have fun cooking up this yummy activity with the children in your life!



Monday, June 6, 2011

Reruns are just as fun the second time around

Do you ever get stuck wondering what to teach or what activity to do with your little ones?  Well, I certainly have this problem every now and then.  Do you know what I do when this happens?  I repeat an activity I have already done.  That simple.

You can ask your students to call out their favorite activities and the class can vote on what they would like to do.  My favorite, however, is to pick a lesson I wasn't so happy with the first time.  It gives me an opportunity to revisit it, to change what did not work and to enhance what did.

I always type out my lessons.  I record what I plan on doing and then I go back after the lesson and write notes about what I did - what worked and what did not.   This way when I do the lesson again I can build upon what was successful.

When you do the lesson again, ask the students to demonstrate what they remember about the particular concept.  This is a great assessment tool.

Don't be afraid to repeat.  We learn by repetition.  We build confidence and master a concept by reviewing, repeating and practicing.  And students love to repeat lessons.  They love to show off what they know and remember.

I am sure I have repeated these ideas in other posts but the more I write about a topic the more I understand it myself.

Have fun repeating and re-repeating activities with the little ones in your life!