Christmas Tree Shapes

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This year with my 6-7 year olds, we put together a little nutcracker dance for a holiday performance. To put it together we explored shapes and ideas about christmas trees.

I partnered them up and asked them to work together to make pointed, rigid, spiky, triangular, symmetrical christmas tree shapes. They made some really interesting shapes on the floor and upside down. Some of the shapes were connected with different body parts, and some were just made side by side. I’m thinking we could of also made a class tree, using everyone to make the branches. :)

After we had all different trees, we slowly grew the trees from the ground up. We added music and counts! In the final performance, they used glow bracelets to symbolize the lights on the tree. They loved it!

Have you ever tried making christmas tree shapes with your littles? I think next year I will try this lesson with my 3′s, 4′s, and 5′s. I know they will love it too!


Introducing…

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Hi Friends,

I am sure you have been wondering where I have been! I have been meaning to update you! My husband and I had our baby on November 30th and he’s so amazing! I knew becoming a mommy would be wonderful, but I had no idea how much my heart would overflow with love.

I hope to write a few more posts this month, now that I am feeling back to myself again and am getting into a routine with baby.

So this is Harrison, my little dancer, who sleeps with his hands over his head, is hungry all of the time, has the best smell and the best part so far is watching him smile in his sleep. xo

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Setting The Thanksgiving Table

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Full Disclosure: This drawing is not my best work… but you get the idea! :)

I have always loved Thanksgiving. It’s a special holiday for me, I’m not sure why, I just love it. AND I love dancing about it! Every year I try to come up with lessons that make sense for me and my littles to do around Thanksgiving time and every year I come up a bit short, because nothing seems just quite right.

Well, today I went to the craft store and just took a mosey around. I was looking for a prop (of course) but couldn’t really find anything that made sense to use in dance class. Then I came across all of the thanksgiving gear to set the table. I had an aha moment! What if we set our own table, using our bodies. So that’s what we did! Hope you can use the idea with your littles too!

I used this idea with my 4, 5, 6, and 7 year old classes. First we brainstormed. I told them the story above as I just told you about the store. We brainstormed what goes on a thanksgiving day table. They were quick to jump to food, but here I really just wanted the “bare bones” of the table. Here’s what they said:

1) tablecloth
2) plates
3) cups
4) silverware – (I asked them to be more specific) knives, forks, spoons.
5) folded napkins
6) baskets
7) candles

I’m sure there is much, much more to brainstorm. After we had our list, we explored the shapes of each idea. Then, we set the table. Depending on how big your class is, you can let them choose what they want to be on the table. Or you can pick how many place settings you want and ask them to make that many! Could even be a group activity if you have a really big class.

Have you ever tried setting the table in class? It was really fun, I look forward to trying it all week with my littles along with this turkey song!

What Thanksgiving dances are you doing this week? I would love to hear!

Nutcracker Craft Book

Crafterina Nutcracker Photo TMCrafterina just launched a Nutcracker craft and coloring book! It looks amazing and so beautiful! If it’s something you celebrate or perform with your littles, this is perfect to have in your collection. I just wanted to tell you about it early so you have the time to get it! :)

This week Vanessa (the creator) is giving away a book on her facebook page. You can enter to win here! 

Thanksgiving and Christmas time already! Exciting! :)

Teaching With Baby Update

image2Hi Friends! How are you doing? I thought I would write a little update about teaching with baby, if you want to hear! I have a little under 4 weeks to go. So close! I loved hearing from you all and your experiences and now I would like to update you on my experiences!

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For the most part, teaching pregnant has been great. It feels good to move around all day. At this point, neither sitting nor standing is comfortable so dancing feels good!

What I was most worried about was getting up and down off the floor so many times in a day. If I only taught one class a day it would be totally fine, but 6 classes a day, up and down was getting really hard! I still get up and down sometimes, there’s really no way around it when your students only come up to your knee. :) But, it’s minimized because I have started teaching warm-ups on the exercise ball! Have you tried it? It really, really helps!

When I first had the idea I thought maybe the littles would get distracted by it, but I don’t think they even notice it that much. When I asked them if it would be OK to teach from the ball, they were all for it. What they are starting to notice though, is my belly! Ha! :)

They want to touch it, and see it. And ask me really funny questions like “Miss Maria, is your baby tickling you?” and “Miss Maria, did you know that I have a baby in my belly too?” It’s the best!

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I am feeling a bit sad that I won’t be teaching for a little bit but I will be back in no time! I still plan to blog a little bit, and I plan to set up this new series to start at the beginning of the 2015!

Are there any topics you would like to hear about that I haven’t covered on the blog? I would love to set them up, so let me know!

As always, thanks for reading and I can’t wait to introduce you to our little one! xoxo

Follow The Leader + Flocking

IMG_5604A few weeks ago, I tried a follow the leader game with my 5 & 6 year old students and it was the most fun. I love doing partner dances with my older students and coming up with challenging ideas that might work and get them thinking. Here’s what we did:

First I partnered them up and had them do follow the leader across the floor. Once one partner had a turn, they switched and gave the other person. We talked about movement that might work well for follow the leader. Turns, don’t work so well, but arms, legs and going down to the ground does. I tried to encourage them to do more then one movement across the floor to challenge their partner and so we don’t get board.

After we did it in partners, I asked who was feeling brave enough to try to be the leader of the whole class? Of course, many of them volunteered, so I gave many of them a turn. I tried to set them up in a V formation so they could all see what the leader was doing. It turned into flocking, right away. It was the coolest!

They love to do turns, but I tried to give them other ideas to think about. I think this is an exercise you can bring back all through out the year, especially if you have a particular class that needs to focus, and fast! :) I did the lesson 2 weeks in a row, so it gave it a chance to “sink in.”

Have you ever tried follow the leader and/or flocking? I am surprised I have never tried this before! I’m excited to now have it a part of my tool box! :)

 

Blowing Leaves

IMG_6775Fall is my favorite. I thought perhaps I had exhausted all of my options for dancing about leaves with my littles, but it turns out, I haven’t! We have done a leaves poem, dancing with leaves, and a leaves song but this week we explored blowing like leaves and burying me in the leaves! Here’s what we did…

With my 4 year olds I asked all of them to stand on one side of the room. I gave them different ideas of how the wind would blow them as a leaf across the room.

Really Strong Wind
Quiet Wind
Wet Leaves
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After we practiced as a class, I asked the dancers if they wanted show their leaf blowing as a solo. I put on some instrumental music and they shared theirs one at a time. It was so interesting to watch! I’m excited to do it again next week because I think they will be even more into it!

Have you ever done a blowing leaf dance? I would love to hear!

p.s. the photo is of me with my boys class. They had the idea to bury me in the leaves we were dancing with. Brilliant idea, right? :)

Traveling Improvisation

IMG_4443Last week I decided I would give my 5, 6, and 7 year olds a major challenge. We have done connecting body parts before and they have loved it, but this time I thought it would be fun to have them travel through the room connected and see what kind of movement they could generate from it. Here’s what we did:

I told them that we were going to travel across the room with a partner keeping our hands connected. It could be one or two hands, but at least one hand had to be connected the entire time.

Then I demonstrated it. Asking questions, “can one person go down to the floor?” “can you use levels?” “where can you travel to?” “what pathway will you take?”

After we explored our hands connected, we tried different body parts. Like, the forearm, feet, and hips! It was a really awesome way to get them thinking, and finding new ways to travel connected!

Have you ever tried asking your students to stay connected and create movement while they travel? What a puzzle of creative thinking and problem solving! Yes! :)

Dip Dance

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This week is Rosh Hashanah, and to celebrate we did the apples and honey dance! Last year I did the apples and honey dance but didn’t really explore beyond it, and I don’t think I timed it that well.

This year I thought it would be fun to explore the dance and then explore the word dip! Since we dip the apples in the honey for the New Year! Here’s what we did in my 4′s, 5′s and 6′s:

After exploring apples and honey we made a circle and said the honey was in the middle. Then we talked about what dip actually means. “you put the apple in and then you take it back out.” So we tried that with our body parts. We dipped in our elbows, our knees, our head. I asked the littles what body parts they wanted to dip in. Bellies, backs, and feet were all called out!

The most interesting part about watching this dance is that the “in and out” part was so amazing! I could have put it on stage! They really understood how to dip in their body parts. I played instrumental music and we explored, and voila! A dance! :)

Have you ever tried a dip dance? Exploring just one word in a class is such great tool to use for improvisation and challenging the imagination. I’m so happy we were able to do this dance this week as my littles prepare to celebrate Rosh Hashanah.