Dem Bones Were Made for Dancing!

Today, Kerry from Picture Books and Pirouettes shares a Halloween book idea to use in your classes! Enjoy! 

I’m so happy that Maria asked me to be a guest on her blog. Her blog is one of my favorites, and I love collaborating with her in any way I can.

Today, I want to share a picture book that I think would be fun to incorporate into creative movement classes for young children at this time of year. Because of the dual nature of the book (which I’ll tell you more about later), I think it could also be incorporated successfully into dance classes for older children.

Dem Bones, by Bob Barner, is based on a traditional African American spiritual that’s hard to get out of your head once you hear it. And I’m almost sure you’ve heard it before. Here’s a great YouTube video I found that combines the African spiritual, the text of the book, and an animated version of the book’s illustrations. It’s quite long, though, so you might consider playing it in the background while you read the rest of this post. Or, maybe you could play it for your classes and make up a fun Halloween dance to go along with it. That could be fun!

Just like the African spiritual that inspired it, Dem Bones is a great anatomy lesson. Each full-page spread of the book is dedicated to one bone (or set of bones) in the body and how it is connected to another. “Toe bone connected to da foot bone. Foot bone connected to da ankle bone…” This is the aspect of the book that I think is well suited for kids about 3 to 5 years old. I can imagine them having fun shaking each of their body parts as they learn how the bone inside each part is connected to another one.

For slightly older kids, the book also contains information about how the bones function. “Without ankle bones you wouldn’t be able to lift your feet when you walk. Because the ankle bone swivels, it allows the
foot to flex so you can climb stairs, run or dance.” Some of the descriptive paragraphs are more detailed than others. For instance, the paragraph about the thigh bone gives the proper medical term for the bone (femur), and the paragraph about the hip bone talks about anatomical differences between male and female skeletons.

The nice thing about this book is that you can use whatever parts of it make most sense for your classes, depending on the ages and abilities of your students. I love all the movement words in the book, and I think they could help inspire a dance or even a simple exploration of movement. And hopefully the illustrations will provide additional inspiration. Abstract, playful, and full of oranges and black, they are perfect for Halloween!

Here are some other ideas for activities to go along with this book!


  1. Sanjana said she wanted this book – I’ll have to order it for xmas – she loves learning about the human body, xrays, bones etc 🙂

Leave a Comment