Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Folk Dance Collaboration with PE

Ya'll- My March has been SO FUN!

Grades 2-4 have been doing an awesome folk dance unit where we combine Music and PE and dance together in the gym.  Students (well, most of them) are LOVING it! We have danced a little in general music, but it was neat to be able to focus entirely on dancing- especially right before testing season starts. We are in our 3rd week now and our plan for the unit was as follows:

Week 1- Dances in Longways Sets
Week 2- Circle Dances
Week 3- Square Dances for 2-3 and Tinikling for 4th

For warm-ups each day we did a popular line dance or scatter mixer and those seemed to be favorites.  We did: Cha Cha Slide, Cupid Shuffle, Electric Slide, Sasha, Macarena, and more!

All of the folk dances we did come from the New England Dancing Masters Books. Each week- Monday was terms/ figures that students needed to know for the type of dances for the week, and then Tuesday-Friday was learning new dances each day (though sometimes a dance took 2 days to master)!

Next year, I want to be able to add Sicilian Circle Dances, as well as Contra Dances- Especially for the older grades.

Through our unit, students were able to master many of the common folk dance steps and figures like:
Casting Off
Two- Hand Turn
Elbow Swing
Right and Left Grand
Allemande Left and Right
Right Hand Star
Left Hand Star
and many more!

Dances in Longways Sets: 
Chimes of Dunkirk
Alabama Gal
Sweets of May
Kings and Queens

Circle Dances: 
Heel and Toe Polka
Lucky Seven

Square Dance: 
Simple Square

A few phrases I found that really helped when teaching/ learning were:

Connect Hands (instead of HOLD hands)- for some reason, lots of kids are ok with connecting, but not holding.

Face Your Way - When teaching circle dances, students were given identifiers *a bracelet or not* and then all partners with a bracelet faced one way, while those without faced the other.  Instead of having to say bracelet face right, while non face left, we just say "face your way" after explaining which way each group should start or stay.

Out of the Longways sets, Circle, and Square Dances- it seemed students like the Longways set dances the most.  They were the most requested when time was left after we completed the goals for the day.  We found that learning Longways Sets and Circle Dances first really helped with square dancing because we already knew many of the different steps and just had to figure them out in a new formation.

We plan on doing the same unit next year, but with slightly different dances for each grade (this year was both mine and the PE teachers first year at this school- so this was a new experience for ALL).  We also hope to coordinate a Family Folk Dance Night in conjunction with our schools Arts Night that happens in April to bring families in on the fun. What are your favorite folk dances?