Children dancing is the perfect activity to improve memory and support learning. The link between movement and learning is well documented. The physical act of spinning has been shown to improve memory, and coordination plays an important role in a child's ability to read fluently.
When children are dancing, they must be coordinated and move to the beat of the music, and the presence of this steady beat also enhances the ability to remember.
Since emotion and memory are housed in the same area of the brain, it is essential for children to experience positive emotion in your classroom every day. Dancing is one of the easiest ways to provide these experiences because when children are dancing, they are having a wonderful time - and so are you!
It is impossible to dance and not feel happy. There is nothing that can boost your mood like dancing with complete abandon to a favorite song. The challenge to getting children dancing at school is helping them move out of their comfort zone so that they may enjoy the benefits of dance in the curriculum.
It is up to you to create a Safe Zone for your students so that they may relax and enter into aesthetic activities such as dance without fear of ridicule from you or their peers. Being a kid is hard, and many of them have learned to retreat into themselves in order to avoid the laughter and taunts of their classmates.
A classroom environment where students feel secure in taking risks is key to the successful use of dance to improve the memory of your students. Seeing you participate helps them feel more secure and models appropriate risk-taking behavior. It is amazing how much more willing they are to move to music when they see that I am having a good time along with them.
You cannot expect students to handle new activities without developing procedures and providing them opportunities to learn and practice those procedures.
Children dancing will only be chaotic if you allow it to be. You must develop procedures and help your children practice them. Have a discussion and ask them to help you come up with procedures they think everyone can follow.
When someone does not follow the procedure, then, it does not become a behavioral issue resulting in discipline. The procedure just needs more practice.
Line dancing and other energizers are a great way to ease your students into dance. The Cupid Shuffle and Hand Jive are always favorites, and my first grade friends enjoy the Cha-Cha Slide. The 60 Second Dance Party is fun at any grade level!
Another easy way to get started is to Dance to the Oldies with these clapping games which can also be used to learn and practice sight words.You can also spin some current tunes and encourage kids to dance while playing rhythm band instruments.
LET THE FORCE BE WITH YOU
Aesthetic activities are all about getting kids in touch with their emotions. Helping children learn to express themselves through dance is a powerful way to combine two areas of aesthetics, dance and music.
Music selection is key to teaching children to feel, then move to music. Since lyrics influence our emotions, it is best to use instrumental music in order to ensure that it is the music and not the lyrics that is being expressed through movement.
Familiar songs are often attached to memories and the emotions surrounding those memories so it is a good idea to use instrumental music with which students are unfamiliar.
Ask students to find their own space in the room where they can be
alone. A good way to begin is by having them stand around the edge of
the room facing a wall so that they are not distracted by their
Tell students you are going to ring a bell or a chime and instruct them to close their eyes and focus on the tone until they are no longer able to hear the sound. This will be the signal for you to start the music.
Have them continue listening, eyes still closed, as you begin the music and ask them to begin moving as they feel the music dictates.
It will take practice and a lot of support and coaching from you in order for most children to become comfortable with this activity.
Encourage students to use all the space available to them without encroaching on another's space, and they will gradually become more confident in their movement and will fill their space.
Carnival of the Animals (Saint-Saens)
The Planets (Holst)