Kicking Off a Month of Thanks!

The month of November brings to mind family, friends, food, and giving thanks.  No matter your student’s background it is important for them to apply the attitude of gratitude and sense of community to their lives (and not bad for us either).

In music class I like to reinforce this thankful  and community focused time of year in many different ways.

  • Question and Answer singing “What are you thankful for?
  • Singing songs about Thanksgiving.
  • Focusing on group music making and community.
  • and a little bit of folk dancing!

Children love to dance.  I know some of you may be thinking that YOUR children wouldn’t be “into” folk dance but I promise- even the most reluctant dancers will grow to love it.

Why dance?

A strong sense of pulse is essential for group music making. What better way to experience pulse in the body than movement and dance?  Folk dances also reinforce common phrase lengths.  This is a great preparation activity for students who will need to have a more firm grasp of phrase length in upcoming units.

Management.

For dancing the teacher must have good management strategies in place.  Students should know how to hold hands with each other without making faces and know how to find their partner quickly.  One effective way of doing this is to tell the children you are going to time them to see how long it takes them to get in a group of two.  Show them that a group of two looks like two people facing each other holding hands.  Write the time on the board.  Then turn it in to a game.  Tell the students to find a different group of two and get there faster.  Before you know it students will be in groups of two with no problems.  When you feel they are ready then begin the dance.  I let children change partners frequently so that they begin to feel comfortable dancing with others.

Where do I start?

There is a great series of books and CD’s out from the New England Dance Masters.  I am particularly fond of the “Chimes of Dunkirk.”

http://www.dancingmasters.com/store/Chimes_Dunkirk.html

This book has clear directions and wonderful dances for all ages.  Does anyone else use it?  Comment with your favorite dances!

If you want more information about this series just send me an email! mmcdaniel@dadeschools.net

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