Teaching Elements of Dance in Kindergarten



Vision Statement

“Familiarity with the elements will help children reach new cognitive levels.”

(Joi Gresham, 2002).


    Any kindergarten teacher knows that almost all five year olds love to move, act, explore with their total identities and bodies.  When creative movement is incorporated into their classroom diet, it is the cement that helps to solidify the knowledge base of the individual learner. My goal is to strengthen and enhance the students’ ability to learn by teaching the elements of dance (FOR) – body, shape, force and time through the lessons of Mary Joyce.  By letting children learn to express themselves using body, mind, and movement, I am going to open new pathways to help in their ability to express themselves and learn through their kinesthetic selves.


Learning Objectives

The learner will be able to:

Cognitive – Short Term – Re-create a modeled four beat pattern. Follow in a marching pattern with a teacher leader. Find a spot (using a stuffed animal model) to work safely building shapes. Go near and far from a set point, and then sit down without touching others around them. Explore the shapes their body is able to made in space and the levels of operation during shape making exercises.  Long Term - Learn the role of body, shape, force and time as the basic elements of creative movement.

Affective – Short Term – The student will be able to create a shape with her body that she has never made before (beginning to explore her ability to move and create). Long Term - Discover new insights to one’s own body movement and learning style.

Social – Short Term – Find a personal spot to create shapes without touching others in the classroom. Long Term - Work with a variety of groupings to explore the elements of dance.

Artistic Competencies – Short Term – Know their bodies are able to make many different shapes. Draw a picture of an interesting shape.  Long-term - Explore the basic elements of dance body, shape, force and time utilizing Mary Joyce’s text.




    While reading First Steps in Teaching Creative Dance to Children I realized that to get the children (and myself) comfortable with creative movement, I needed to teach the elements.  As the author states, “This freedom can be used successfully and with self-assurance, however, only after preliminary exploration and learning of the elements of dance (Joyce, 1994, p.7).”  After reading the text, I realized that the lessons in the book serve as the underlying building blocks for me as well as my students.  I plan to teach basic elements using the Joyce text three times a week for approximately 30-45 minutes a day.  My kindergarten classroom is a large area that has only easily movable tables.  I will be teaching the all day kindergarten program during the next academic year. Due to the length of the day, I will have the luxury of time and freedom to explore the elements of movement using the lessons provided in our text.


Activity One


     The kindergarten children that I will be working with in the fall will help me to know how much time I need to spend on developing expectations for classroom instruction during movement. This lesson might be spread over two days if the children are interesting in doing more of the activities to build appropriate behaviors.

Settling-in period – Echo Me

Children will clap a simple four beat pattern and then the children will repeat it with their hands, feet, or a partner while clapping (p. 50).

Establishing Boundaries – Parade

Having the children march behind me in line, we will explore the areas of the room that are on/off limits during the movement activities (p. 50).

How to Stop

Finding the perfect spot – Using the stuffed animals in the classroom home center, I will show the children how to find a spot away from other children during the upcoming shape activity. Half of the children will move to one of the animal markers and then the other half of the children will do the same thing.  I will have a “non-example” stuffed animal to show children how the “perfect spot” away from other works.  I will show using a volunteer from the classroom and model the idea for the students (p. 52).

Near and Far

This is another activity where the children will be divided into half due the to size of the classroom (25 students).  I will ask the children to walk to me and sit without touching anyone during the process. Then I will repeat the process asking them to go as far from me. This will be a great indicator of student needs and wants as far as physical contact needs.

Shapes – Lesson 1

The kindergartners will be asked to find a “perfect spot” as we practiced earlier in the lesson. I will then show different shapes of “sitting” by pointing out the different body positions around the room. We will then explore different shapes their bodies can make and the concept of “holding” the shape using the drum as a cue to release the holding pattern of their individual bodies.  Some guiding statements and questions include: Find a shape on the where your body is touching the floor on one, two or three spots. Can you make a tall shape? Can you make a tiny shape? Make a shape that you’ve never made before with your body. Make a low shape. Make a straight shape.  While the students are holding the shape, ask them – How does that shape make your muscles feel?  Is this a shape you could hold for a long time or would it make you tired? 

Student-based Assessment

    Kindergarten age children are very honest in their opinions about the activities during their busy school day. They aren’t able to write or “take a test” about the areas of study but teacher observation of outcomes and classroom participation are always good indicators of whether goals and objectives are being met.  I will assess how students are enjoying and meeting lesson goals and objectives in several ways.

  1. Are kindergartners asking to do the movement and dance lessons?  The past year children begged to do the movement activities that were a part of our day.
  2. Are the kindergartners to partners using dance related language covered in the Joyce lessons?
  3. One-on-one interview – Are students able to make a high level shape and hold it? Are they able to use the concept words of high level, low level, straight to make a shape?
  4. Pictures – Taken during the lesson to show the different shapes being made by the students.  After the pictures have been developed are the students able to talk about their shape using the language of the lesson?
  5. Direct Observation of the teacher during the lesson – What children are able to follow the drum beats, create using the directions and suggestions given
  6. Student work – Recreating an interesting shape using a picture, dictation may be taken by the teacher to show the thoughts of the student
  7. Videotaping the lesson to show and reflect on the shapes made by students and to explore the long term goals and objects


















































Making an effort to increase student learning by integrating  movement will help children gain meaningful context to their lives.