Ready-To-Use Teaching Ideas: MUSIC & MOVEMENT


  • Straw hats and bandannas (optional)

Objective: Children will work together and follow directions as they explore the simple movements and steps of square dancing.

Warm-Up: Invite children to talk about dances they are familiar with. Encourage children who feel comfortable dancing to demonstrate the kind of dancing they like to do most. Introduce the concept of square dancing and explain that dancers must listen to someone call out different movements and steps for them to follow.


1 Invite half of the group to form a circle. Have the other half make a circle around them. Ask children to walk in opposite directions as you sing a song. When you stop, ask those in the center of the circle to turn around and face the outer circle. Explain to children that whomever they are facing is their partner for the square dance.

2 Demonstrate the three basic movements:

Circle once around: Partners face each other, hold hands, and walk around in a circle (as in "Ring Around the Rosy").

Swing your partner: Partners face each other and hold hands. Then they swing their arms from side to side (as in "London Bridge").

Clap together: Partners clap facing each other. Invite children to practice these basic moves with their partners as you call out the steps.

3 Tell children to get ready to square dance to music. Remind them to listen to the directions in the song you are going to sing, "Swing Your Partner" (to the tune: "She'll Be Coming "Round the Mountain"):


Everybody circle once around,

Everybody circle once around,

Now swing your partner, swing your partner,

Swing your partner, swing your partner.

Everybody circle once around,

Everybody circle once around,

Everybody circle once around,

Now clap together, clap together,

Clap together, clap together.

Everybody circle once around.

4 Sing the song slowly at first until children become familiar with the steps and movements. Switch partners and  try the square dance again.

Spin-Off: Invite children to create their own movements to share with the rest of the group. Sing the song again, using words to describe the new movements, and encourage children to try these new steps with their partners.


  • Emphasize that there is no right answer, and be sure to accept all interpretations.
  • Some children may not be comfortable with the open-ended nature of this activity. In this case, offer some examples for them to use as guidelines.

Spin-Off: Introduce music that tells a story, such as "The Ugly Duckling." Then play instrumental music and invite children to create a story that might go along with the music. Encourage children to communicate the story through dramatic play, language, and art.

This activity originally appeared in the October, 1998 issue of Early Childhood Today.