September is always pretty busy. It has always been the most exciting and craziest part of the year for me because each year you start everything again. New class, new students, new parents and families, new colleagues… Challenging but always thrilling :) !
The most important thing for me is that my new students are happy to come to school. That seems a little bit simple but this is actually my first goal at the very beginning of the year.
I want them to feel comfortable in a safe and welcoming environment with a lot to discover and play with. I also insist a lot on how we communicate with each other, how we live, play and learn together.
The climate of confidence and harmony that we try to create at the beginning of the year is hard to get but it is so much worth it and so much easier after. If the children enjoy coming to school, feel confident, have no fear to express themselves or to make mistakes, if they communicate well with each other, learning will be much easier and natural throughout the year!
Dance is one of the magic tools to help the children bond with each other and discover the group they are part of.
I start dancing with them on the first week of school. I usually introduce dance as it is: “ today we will dance together” or “ today we will discover some dance games”. Children are usually pretty excited and very participative even if they don’t know each other very well. As I said in my previous article, love for dance is innate and children are always happy to move anyway;)
My two favorite dance concepts to work on during the first weeks of school are: Space and Relationship.
Space refers to the space through which the dancer's body moves (general or personal space, level, size, direction, pathway, focus).
Relationship refers to the relationship the dancers’ body parts have to everything else (these past weeks we worked on the relationship to objects and to each other)
At the beginning of the year we dance in the classroom. It is a good way to make the children feel comfortable with their new environment and make it their own.
Here are a few games that I use:
“Statues Dance”: how to dance in a limited space and play with movement and stillness. Find your own space and your own way without touching the others or any objects in class, freeze when the bell rings.
“Statues with different Levels”: how to dance in a limited space and experiment with levels. Find your own space and your own way without touching the others or any object in class, freeze when the bell rings by experimenting different levels (low, medium, high)
“Contact Dance with objects”: how to make a contact with any object of the class. Use the entire space of the class as in the previous dance games. When the bell rings make a statue with an object by touching it with one part of your body. Play with levels.
“Contact Dance with chairs”: how to make a contact with a predetermined object: the chairs. Use the entire space of the class as in the previous dance games. Decide when you want to stop (no bell) and make a statue by touching a chair with one part of your body. (The chairs are placed anywhere in the classroom). Play with levels.
“Contact Dance with someone”: How to make a contact with another dancer. Use the entire space of the class as in the previous dance games. When the bell rings make a statue with the person that is the closest to you by touching him/her with one part of your body. Play with levels.
“Play-Dough Dance”: How to create a statue with someone else’s body. The children are working by pairs. One child is the sculptor the other one the play-dough. The are taking turns on the music to create the statue they want by moving their friend’s body the way they want and create their statue.
Through these dance games the children learn :
- to use the entire dance space: move everywhere
- to use the space close to their body by experimenting levels
- to play with movement and stillness
- to discover and use many parts of their body to make a contact with an object
- to accept dancing with others and making contact with each other
These first skills that we work on at the beginning of the year are essential and will be developed throughout the year but that is for me a nice and fun introduction to Dance at School :)!
These games can be played at home too with your own family! Put the music on and dance together!