5 Steps To Make Your Creative Movement Classes a Breeze!
Raise your hand if you’ve ever taught a Creative Movement/Little Kid class and felt like Chris Pratt facing some rip-your-face-off raptors. (Every single dance teacher ever raises their hand…)
Fear not my friend! I’ve been there too, and after many years, and LOTS of trial and error, today I’m going to share my tricks for making your Creative Movement/Littles classes easy breezy!
1. Choose Your Focus + Props
I follow my own Mind Body SPARK curriculum, which focuses on a dance concept every 4 weeks. I highly suggest basing your classes on these dance concepts, since they’re the foundation for all movement, and give students a great toolkit for moving forward in dance, whether it be ballet, modern, tap, etc. Once you’ve decided to focus on the concept of SHAPE, for example, then you can…
2. Start with a BrainDance
I start every single one of my Creative Movement/Little Kid classes with a BrainDance. Why? Well, you can read about the genius of Anne Green Gilbert’s method here, but basically, it’s the best warm up any teacher can choose that supports a dancer mind, body, and spirit (which is my jam). You can see an example of one of my go-to BrainDances in the video below.
3. Bring Your Focus to Circle Time + Around The Room Exercises + Choose Your Props
Now that we’re warmed up, it’s time to really move! Going back to our focus of SHAPE, choose 2-3 exercises to do in a circle (ex: plies, port de bras and sautes) and work your focus into each exercise. You might look for diamonds in plies, or mirror a partner in plies, use stretchy bands with your arms to make shapes in port de bras, and work on making a really long shape in sautes (bonus points if you can jump and hit your head on this drum!). This is also the time to decide on your props for class and set them out so they’re ready to go. You can continue your theme around the room with movement like opposite shape walks with a partner, marches (what shape is the lifted leg in?), sautes around the room, and leaps.
4. Pick 2-3 Games/Movement Breaks
Games and Brain Breaks, or a change of pace are VITAL to early childhood classes. If you don’t incorporate them, you really might as well be facing raptors. Plus, this age group learns most effectively through play, so you and your students will be missing out big time without structured breaks.
I like to play a game between Circle and Around the Room activities, and before our curtsies and bows.
Freeze Dance is a classic, but can be quickly overused in my opinion; keeping with our SHAPE theme, maybe you play a round of Circle Land and Square Land: divide your room in half with cones or tape and designate one side Circle Land, where we make all the circle shapes (wheels, snails, pizzas, etc.), the other side is Square Land, where we make all the square shapes (TVs, doors, presents, boxes, etc.). Or play Freeze Dance with your stretchy band props from earlier. An obstacle course is always a great option for this age group. Or, for a quieter break, grab a deck of yoga cards and pick a few to go through to some calming music.
5. Plan For Transitions
It can be really easy to lose students as you transition from one section of class to another. Nip that in the bud with engaging transitions. You can use songs that give directions or play follow the leader, as a few examples. Check out the video below for more ideas.
That’s it! I’ve found this structure to class and planning method the best, and I certainly have tried a few over the years. But I’d love to know what you do, so share with a comment below!