Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Apples and Bananas - A Circle Dance

I love circle dances.  I have written about them before but there is so much to say!  Circle dances are a great way to work on eye contact, spatial awareness, dancing in unison, and it is great when you have limited space. 

In order to do a circle dance successfully:
Practice.  Stand in a circle with your class. Ask the children to put their arms out.  Make sure they are close enough to each other that they are not pulling to reach each other's hands.  Have them hold hands for three seconds and then let go.  Then challenge them to do it for five seconds.  Then for ten.  Let them know that the only way they can learn the dance is if they do not pull.  I have done circle dances with three, four and five year olds very successfully.  It is about setting expectations and practicing.  After your class can hold hands without pulling have them walk, march and/or tip toe in a circle.  When they have that down you are ready to do a circle dance!

Apples and Bananas
  1. Have your class stand in a circle.  Tap every other child on the head and say apple.  These are the "apples" in the dance.  The children you did not tap are the "bananas." 
  2. Have the class walk, march or chasse in a circle for 8 counts.  Have them march in place with their hands on their hips for 8 counts.  (Then the "bananas" jump down and sit criss cross on the floor on count 8.)
  3. The "bananas" clap to the beat while the "apples" skip into the circle for 4 counts.  Then the "apples" jump in place 4 times.  On the 4th jump they turn to face the "bananas."
  4. The "apples" skip back 4 times.  They jump 4 times again.  On the 4th jump they sit down and the "bananas" jump up.
  5. Now it is the "bananas" turn.
  6. When the "bananas" skip back to the apples they don't jump down but turn to face the inside of the circle and the "apples" jump up.  Everyone holds hands.
  7. The dance starts again.  When it is time to go in and out of the circle the "bananas" start.
Use music that has a slow beat at first.  Then you can experiment with different tempos.  Feel free to change the counts and modify the dance so it works for your class.  I created the Apples and Bananas dance when I was teaching  a 5 year old ballet class in a very small space.  This circle dance made it easy for the class to dance together safely.  Everyone was involved and each child did not need to sit and wait his or her turn while another dancer skipped across the floor.  (Which took literally 2 seconds because the space was so small.) 

Make up your own circle dances!  And if you have a fun one I would love to hear about it!

Have fun dancing in a circle with the little ones in your life!!


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Observsation Leads to Rejuventation

March is a long month with no holidays or breaks.  I think that is why I sometimes struggle with my ideas and energy in March.  I get antsy for spring and so did the children.  Thank goodness I have a wonderful trick to get me energized and rejuvenated!  I watch other teachers teach.

I learn so much by watching other teachers.  I observe the differences in teaching styles, classroom management and flow.  I get inspiration about lessons, music, props, etc. from others in the teaching field.  I love sharing ideas and philosophies. 

It doesn't even have to be the particular dance style or student age group that you observe.  It can be fun if it is entirely different.  You might find new music, new approaches to discipline or themes for your class.  And it is nice to sit and take it all.  For once you are not the doer but the observer.

As a parent I like to observe other parents and learn from them as well.  I have so many phrases I say that I have taken from other mommies.  My favorites include "no thank you"  when I don't like the way my daughter says something to me,  "different rules for different families"  when my daughter asks why her friend gets to do something that she is not allowed to do and "you are full of beans"  which is just fun to say.

So, inspiration can come from many places.  Sometimes that best place is the where you already are; in the studio or classroom.  But this time step out and be the observer.

Have fun observing and energizing for yourself and the children in your life!