Monday, May 24, 2010

Water dance: Float, Sink and Bubble!

Floating is an amazing sensation.  It is one that we can visualize and observe but to truly experience it you got to jump in; to water that is.  I love to move and dance in water because I can feel my body so differently and can move with an added sense of buoyancy.  I experience breath differently to because I am more conscious of how I breathe underwater.  I slow my breath down and deliberately  breath through my nose or mouth.

Water can be a great tool to explore new and unusual ways of moving.  It can assist you in performing movements that would be quite difficult or impossilbe to do on land.  It also helps in developing body awareness and spatial awareness.

  • twist, twirling, rolling
  • floating, sinking
  • kicking, splashing, bubbles
  • pushing and pulling
  • diving, jumping, bobbing
One of the most important teaching tools in water is patience, trust and safety.  It sometimes can take children a very long time to be comfortable in water.  Let them explore at their own pace.  Learning and discovery is not on any artificial timeline.  As children develop confidence, they build self esteem and a sense of awareness of what their bodies can do.

After swim time is over, see if the children can take the movements they explored in the water and translate them to land.  How can they float, sink, bob, dive and splash?  How can they jump, twirl and roll?  Does it feel different?  How?

Have fun dancing to the pool, in the pool , on and  land and with the children in your life!


Monday, May 17, 2010

The Nature of Movement

Watch an animal move.  Really watch.  Most of the time it is different then your percecption of how you think it moves.  Kind of like when you learned that a dog says 'bark" and a bird says "tweet."  I don't hear "bark" or "ruff" when I really listen to a dog. It's a sound I can't put into the english language.  Sometimes a dog bark sounds like pans crashing to the ground or a bag of potato chips being ripped open.  And sometimes a bird "tweet" sounds more like a squeeky chair.

My point is when you really listen, really watch, you learn something different then what you expect.

Watch a bird with children and say what you see. 
  • How does the bird move?  How does it walk?  Does it put one foot in front of the other or does it jump around with both feet?  When it moves it's head does it move it slowly and scan or does the bird tilt it sideways very quick?  When it flies does it jump into the air and flap it's wings?  Does it take a running start?  When it flies does it flap constantly or does it soar tilting slightly?
Ask the children to do these movements.  Remember they are not acting like a birds but taking the movements they observed and putting them into their bodies!  Observation is a very important skill .

I took my daughter to see the movie Ocean.  Throughout the entire movie I kept thinking, "I didn't know dolphins moved like that", or "I didn't know fish could swim under a shark."  It was like a water dance and I was in awe.  It made me think about really watching my surroundings and seeing the true nature of movement and not my perception of movement.

Take the time to observe the animals around you with the children in your life and discover the movement essence of the world.  Then make a nature dance that is not like anything you might imagine because the true nature of movement can sometimes be even more spectacular!


Monday, May 10, 2010

Thank You Sun!

Have you danced outside with your little ones this spring?  It is warm enough now without being too hot, cool enough without being too cold and breezy enough without being too gusty.  It seems to me to be perfect weather to feel the space, the air, the ground and the sun. 

When I teach outside, I define the movement space with cones ( but you can define the space with anything you have on hand.)  This way the children have definite boundaries and I don't have to go chasing anyone.  Obstacles to be aware of:
  • wet grass/cut grass
  • bright sunlight
  • bees, bugs, butterfly distractions
Have a dance space already in mind to before you take the kids out, preferably with a shady area.   Be prepared if the ground is wet to have an activity that does not require sitting, rolling,etc.  If the grass is dry, roll away!

Thank You Sun Activity
For those of you who have a yoga background it is great fun to do sun salutations outside.  Reach up and arch up to the sun and yell thank you sun in the beginning and the end of each salutation.  If you don't know the sun salutation make up your own thank you dance or stretch.

Ask your students:
  1. What is the sun's job?
  2. Where is the sun?
  3. How does the sun feel on your body?
  4. What is the sun like today? (Can you feel the sun today, is it cloudy, bright, etc.)
See if your students can stretch their bodies in all different directions and have the sun hit every piece of their bodies. Their noses, knees, elbows, chins, backs, bellies, shoulders and toes.  Reach up towards the sun, face to the sky and yell "thank you sun!"

Dance BIG
This is a great time to move big.  I usually don't have the opportunity to teach in a large enough space to accommodate the entire class running, leaping, jumping at the same time.  I usually have to keep tight control on how many students can move through the space at one time.  But outside there are no walls, ceilings and doors!  I love to watch full movement without constraint.  And it feels different to the students as well.

Have fun feeling the wind between your finger and the sunlight dancing on your knees with the children in your life!


Monday, May 3, 2010

Exploring Science Through Movement: Flower Dance

I am a guest in a first grade class today.  Our theme: Flowers.  The class has been learning about the parts of a flower and the teacher wants me to come in and create a movement activity based on this unit.
After the movement activity the kids will write in their own words how a flower grows.

Parts of a Plant
In order for us to delve into movement ideas, we have to understand/review what we are exploring.
  • roots- which takes in the water for the plant (low level)
  • leaf- makes the food for the plant (low to  middle level)
  • stem- carries water from the roots up the plant (middle to high level)
  • flower- makes seeds (high level)
What plants need to live
Without any of these four elements, plants would not be able to grow.
  • water (rains down, sprinkles, drips, pours)
  • sunlight ( radiates, beams, shines)
  • soil (covers, surrounds, holds, blankets)
  • air (can see but can feel around us. Blows side to side, forward and back)
 How a plant grows
Plants don't just pop out of the ground. They grown slowly.  They grow down before they grow up and up and up.
  • A seed is placed under ground and covered with soil
  • Roots reach down and sprouts reach up
  • Petals expand wide as the stem continues to grow up
  • Flower blooms and opens
Flower Dance
From what we know about flowers, I am going to have the class piece together the dance.  We will have a beginning:  the seed, a middle: sprouting, an ending: the bud opening. And we will connect these three parts of our dance with the action of the soil surrounding, the rain dripping, the sunlight beaming and the air blowing.

I don't know exactly what the dance will look like until I see it unfold in front of me.  I will take their knowledge of plants and help them translate it into movement. The hardest part of an activity like this is to keep the focus on movement and action instead of acting.

For an activity like this it is also important to utilize the students' knowledge, this way the movement activity can be an assessment piece for the teacher.  It also enables the students to delve deep into movement concepts (levels, shape, direction) and can be a assessment activity for you as well.

April showers bring May flowers outside and inside the classroom as well.

Have fun exploring, dancing and blooming with the children in your life!