Grab A Partner For The Barnyard Dance!

Read It. Move It. Share It. is a collaboration with Kerry from Picture Books and Pirouettes. Once a month Kerry recommends a book for me to use in my creative movement classes. Then I write a post on what I did with the book and how I used it with my students in hopes of giving you some new ideas to use in your classes! Here is the March book. Enjoy!

Last Saturday I was feeling really ambitious. I was in a room with full of 20 4 year olds (2x!) and for some reason my assistant never showed up. I had this book in my bag, so thinking quick on my feet I had the idea of doing partner dances. We have been doing partner and group shapes already, so surely it would be wonderful. Not the case. But we did have fun! Here are some ideas:

In the first class we just started dancing the book, I read the pages and we would do the movements. That was a bit of chaos, so in the second class I switched it up and read the book aloud first and that seemed to work much better. I don’t know why some books do better right out of the gate, others take time to sink in.

So, after I partnered them up. We did a clapping and stomping game. “Stomp your feet, Clap your hands” Stomp 4 times, your partner clap 4 times, now switch! We did it all together, then I gave them time to figure it out on their own. Remember, it will get loud, but that’s they way they learn. I just kept walking around to make sure everyone was staying on task.

We continued the book and anywhere I saw an opportunity to do something with their partner we did it. It says “bow to the horse.” “bow to the cow.” So we bowed to our partner and then away from them. The pictures in the book tell a lot about the dance too. Towards and Away are good words to teach, just like near and far!

“Twirl with the pig if you know how.” We tried twirling with our partner, some of them could figure it out, others needed a little help. They hold hands overhead and then twirl. If they are careful, they can both twirl at the same time. We found other ways of twirling too, like one partner goes down low while the other one twirls around them or both do a twirl at the same time and then a high five!

“Everbody promenade two by two!” The most fun to do with 4’s because they get it. Explain very clearly that they should stand shoulder to shoulder. Then hold outside hands and connect the other hand on their partners back. Now, ask them to walk while trying to stay together and on the same foot! It’s a challenge, but they can for sure do it.

After that we did Do Si Do (it’s not in the book, but I thought it would be fun to teach) One partner turns around to face the back, if you have to you can call out names so they don’t get confused. Then tell them to link elbows, and walk forward in a circle. They couldn’t stop laughing and they couldn’t figure out why they couldn’t catch up to their partner. So fun!

“Swing with your partner” Ahhh… there are 1 million ways to swing with your partner. I love this! Swing your arms, swing your legs, swing sideways, upside down, backwards. It’s really fun to see what they can come up with!

We did other animals in the book like the frog, turkey, sheep, and mice. I just asked them to stay as close to their partner as they could. At the end of our dance we took a bow away and towards our partner and then did the “clap your hands, stomp your feet game again to end where we started. It was really loud and amazing!

Do you ever do partner dances in class? I thought that partnering them up would be a great way to manage that many 4 year olds because they can be responsible for each other. It was a little messy but it gave them a 2 way challenge. The first was to follow the directions and the second was to figure out how to dance with a partner, AKA problem solving.

I would love to hear your ideas about partner dances. Do they intimidate you? Do you think they talk more when they have a partner or are more focused. I think I might try it again this week. Now they know what it’s like and can really concentrate on the dancing!

p.s. I would really like to know more about Sandra Boynton and this book. Wouldn’t you? I’m headed over to Kerry’s blog right now to learn more!


  1. Hi, Maria. Wow. I am impressed that you could handle 20 4-year-olds. I don’t think I could ever do that! I love that you did partner dances to go along with the book. And it sounds like the kids really got it. Thanks again for another amazing collaboration!

  2. I LOVE doing partner dances and games with my students too! I love it for in class as well as performances. I wanted to post to let you know one of my songs is called “Pas de Deux” it is for tap and is a partner dance with some follow along movements for the kids to do:). I am really enjoying your site and your posts, thanks so much!!

    1. Author

      Melodee, Thank you for the song recommendation! Do you know who sings it? I would love to try it out! 🙂

  3. Hi Maria, a colleague of mine told me about your site. I have the Barnyard Book in my library — I love that book. Looking forward to reading more of your site/blog. Thanks for sharing your love of dance! Maureen

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