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Dance Party in Kindergarten!

By Brian Smith on September 16, 2013
  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2

"Just Dance"

Lady Gaga ordered us to "Just Dance" in 2008 and my class does just that! We dance every day. We have a five-minute dance party scheduled into our daily routine and it serves several purposes:

  • It’s a great way to transition from one area of the classroom to another

  • It’s a huge motivator

  • It supports gross motor development

  • It’s a time of structured movement

  • It’s creative and fun

"You Should Be Dancing"

Say'vion Doing the Grocery BuggyThe Bee Gees told the world that we should be dancing in 1976 and I tell a room full of five-year-olds that every morning! Making transitions from one area to another in the room can be tricky as students move at different speeds. Using an entire song to make a big transition ensures that everyone will be where they need to be when you are ready to begin teaching.

To begin our dance party I hit "play" on my iPod and start calling kids to our dance floor (aka the “story time” rug in my room). I will only call kids who have completed their work and are sitting in their chairs with their area tidy. I call the kids over by saying, “Dance on over here Rylee!” or “You look like you are ready to dance Ethan!” 

"I Can’t Dance"

In 1991 Genesis informed the world that they could not dance and that is something I really relate to. However, even though I am self-aware enough to understand that I have no rhythm, it doesn’t stop me from having fun during our dance party time. When we learn a new dance I still follow the “I do, we do, you do” method of teaching and that means I shake my groove thing.

Since our dance party occurs mid-morning, it’s a great way to help keep the room in order as the day goes along. Students don’t want to miss out on the dance party so it has proven to be a huge motivator to have their work complete and their area clean. Also, getting to choose the dance party song is a big deal and a classroom reward students work hard to earn.

"Don’t Forget to Dance"

The title of the 1983 hit by The Kinks reminds me how movement increases brain development in younger students.  

Connor Doing the Cowboy

For students in the early grades, gross motor skills are still developing. A dance party is the perfect time for everyone to work on these skills without realizing it or feeling self-conscious about it. According to Brooks Health, four-, five-, and six-year-olds are still mastering hopping on one foot, standing on one foot, and galloping. 

Dances that help with gross motor skills:

  • Raise the Roof

  • The Cowboy (shown at right )

Another example of how dancing helps a youngster's development is with crossing the midline, which is taking your right arm to the left side of your body or vice versa. Children who struggle with crossing the midline can also struggle with handwriting as neither hand has become the dominant hand. If you’d like to learn more about crossing the midline, OT Mom Learning Activities has some great information.

Harper Doing the Water SprinklerKaedyn Doing the Dust It Off

Dances that help with crossing the midline:

  • The Grocery Buggy (shown in the You Should Be Dancing section)

  • The Water Sprinkler (shown above, left)

  • The Dust It Off (shown above, right)

"Do You Wanna Dance?"

The Beach Boys asked this question in 1965 and the answer in my class is, “YES!  We wanna dance!” The rules for our dance party are easy for the kids to remember and easy to enforce:

  1. Have fun and be creative. Provide time for the kids to make up dances of their own. I’m occasionally surprised how the students will take a concept that we learned in class and turn it into a dance. These dances are always my favorite.

  2. Stay in your own area and keep all body parts to yourself. This is the one rule that haunts kindergarteners in all areas of their school day. If this rule isn’t followed, the consequence is to sit out the rest of the dance party. Quick and easy.

  3. When Mr. Smith calls a dance, everyone does it. We learn different dances as a class. During a song I will call out, “Everybody raise the roof!” and everyone does that dance including me. When I stop dancing that specific dance everyone can free style again. 

  4. As soon as the song is over, we sit on the dance floor silently.  After three-and-a-half to five minutes of movement, students are ready to sit and listen as we quickly move into the next lesson of the morning.

For a demonstration of these skills, rules, and just pure fun, please take a look at my talented dancers.

"I Hope You Dance"

Lee Ann Womack sang this lovely wish of a song in 2000 and here is a list of songs that I hope you will dance to in your classroom.

  1. "Dynamite" by China Anne McClain great song for Raise the Roof

  2. "Midnight Train to Georgia" by Gladys Knight and the Pips

  3. "Brave" by Sara Bareilles

  4. "Walk Like an Egyptian" by The Bangles

  5. "Ooh La La" by Britney Spears

  6. "Shake It Up" by Selena Gomez

  7. "Life is a Highway" by Rascal Flatts

Water SprinklerPlay songs that you are comfortable with using. Songs from popular kid movies ("Ooh La La" from Smurfs 2) or from TV shows that they may watch ("Shake It Up" from Disney's Shake It Up show) are always favorites. But you can also mix it up. Introduce your class to different genres or classic songs (example: "Midnight Train to Georgia") with songs that they already know and love. They won’t know what to expect each day and may discover a new favorite.

The songs used as headings in this week’s post are not suggestions for a classroom dance party. These song titles just lent themselves to the different areas that I wanted to touch on about our dance party.

I can’t wait to see you next week.



Comments (17)

I'm a kinder teacher and I also love using music in my classroom. I've found it a little difficult to implement dance without some of my students getting a little out of control. Any tips?

The first tip is just make sure that your wild dancers have plenty of space around them. Understanding their body in space can be difficult for some kids. If they are using this time for purposeful distraction then I have them sit out the rest of the song. Quick and easy and usually deters behaviors quickly. THANKS for reading!

Great article with some great song choices! I teach kindergarten with 25 students and we do our exercises every day. We are stretching, crossing over (right/left brain learning), using gross motor exercises, a few OT techniques, following directions- and getting compliments (recognized for trying their best). Exercises are more focused in my room, dancing had become a challenge for 3-4 kids who would not participate. Our newest song is from Frozen - Let It Go! They love it and sing along!!

I'm a retired teacher but in my class we danced every day too. Keep it up

Thank you so much for the comment! Dance party is SO much fun!

Such a pleasure to view this. Landon is my grandson and I know he loves music and he loves to dance. Thank you for incorporating this into your teaching method.

Landon is a fantastic dancer and is a great student! Thanks so much for checking out the blog!

You can dance right on over to N-C anytime! Awesome article.

Love it!! Thanks for sharing!!

They are so cute, but I think the teacher should be taped dancing along with them. :) Hope you're having a great year! Miss ya!

The kids are much better dancers than the teacher! :)

What is the boy girl break down in your class? Either the boys are just more prominent on the dance floor or do you have more boys than girls? Thanks again!

Well this video absolutely made my day Mr. Smith. It was not the greatest day in the world for me and all of a sudden watching these great little kids loving a few moments of unbridled enjoyment--well it sure turned my attitude around.
I would have loved to see you dance along with them! Thanks for this little bit of delight!

I know exactly what you mean about kids being able to take a not so great day and turning it around! :) I hope the rest of your week goes well. Thanks for reading!

I wish I could be in your class Mr. Smith!

I love the look and feel of your classroom :) I currently teach Pre K (three year olds) but started my career with three amazing years in Kindergarten. Reading your posts makes me miss those years tremendously!! I love your Daily Dance Party! We are always dancing in my room, too :) Love to see those happy faces.

Three year olds are so much fun. Thanks for the kind words and I love that you dance in your room too!

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