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Early Childhood Movement Lesson Plans 

Read below for our full Early Childhood Movement Lesson Plans to correlate with our Early Childhood Movement Cards! Each of these lesson plans will guide you through more detailed ways to engage children with our movement cards. Be sure to check the name of the lesson plan and make sure it correlates with the card section that you're using! Keep dancing! 

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Moving Through Our Feelings 

Early Childhood Movement Lesson Plan by The Dancer Movement Corp

 

OVERVIEW & PURPOSE

The Moving Through Our Feelings activities help children understand how to process emotions both physically and verbally. In allowing children to talk about emotions and discover new feelings, we help them recognize and process these emotions when they experience them in real life. These activities will also lead to a better understanding of how others around them may be feeling and an awareness of what others may be communicating via body language. 

 

OBJECTIVES

  1. Help children discover and understand their emotions and feelings.  

  2. Encourage a safe expression of these emotions.  

  3. Understand the cues that our bodies give and how to express them. 

 

MATERIALS NEEDED

  1. Face flashcards.  

  2. Optional: Directional Arrow Cards or Seasonal Cards.

 

 

 

 

Activities

 

 

 

 

Activity 1. This activity is really about opening up the conversation about feelings and letting the child start to explore these in their body. Start by going through each of the cards and asking the child what emotion they think the face is expressing. Then prompt them with the question on the back of the flashcard (encouraging movements in their bodies like “How can you show me you’re feeling sad without using your words?” or even “When I do this [frown and pout] what do you think I’m feeling?”).  

Once the child feels confident with these feelings and movements, put on some music. Start by asking if the song being played triggers an emotion, if it does let them move with that emotion (if the song makes them feel sad encourage them to dance in a way that feels sad). This can sometimes be difficult at first but remember you can always refer to the cues on the back of the cards to help. Try this with different songs and different emotions. Depending on the music you choose you may have to prompt different emotions with the cards, but some songs will naturally encourage children to feel a lot of different ways. You’re never limited to the faces on the cards but can always use them when you need a prompt! 

 

Activity 2: Start by reviewing your feelings cards and practicing some movements with each emotion. Now for the fun part! You are going to have the child come up with four simple steps to make a dance (these can be very easy ie: jump, spin, touch the ground and clap) or more complicated if the child leads the movements that way. Practice it a few times all together so the child knows the dance. Now flip through your emotion cards and have the child do the dance expressing that emotion. For example (using the four steps listed above) if I pull out the “sad” face I might make my jump very heavy, spin very slowly with slumped shoulders, drop my head as I go to the ground, and clap without much enthusiasm. 

Once you’ve been through each of these emotions (maybe a few times each!) let the child pick an emotion (without telling you what it is). Have them do the dance expressing the emotion (no words!) and see if you can guess what they were expressing! You can also flip the rolls and see if they can guess your emotion! 

 

 

Activity 3: With this activity you get to combine two sets of flashcards and start to layer some of these ideas together. You’ll need your feelings/face cards and your seasonal cards. Have the child put the seasonal cards in a random order to make a dance (if you haven’t explored the seasonal flashcards yet refer to our Seasons of Movement Lesson Plan for more details). For the older children you can have them practice it a few times so they know it, or you can use the cues on the back of each card to help them remember each movement. Then have them pick an emotion card to go with it. As they do these dance steps they will also be expressing an emotion. This encourages new ways of moving and allows them to discover new ways to show each emotion. Go through it a few times. You can also have them secretly pick an emotion and do the seasonal dance and have you guess (as you did before). Remember you can keep changing the order of the seasonal shapes as well as the emotions. The possibilities are endless and this can get really fun and silly! 

 

 

Tips

  • Remember you can take these exercises at the pace your child needs. Keep with the game that seems to encourage the most creative movement. The more they experiment with new movements the more they discover how their body expresses emotions and reacts to others.  

  • Take your time in layering these activities and putting together the different freeze dance styles. If your child prefers more improvised movements try layering the last activity with the directional arrows instead of the seasonal cards. Put the directional arrows in any order, pick an emotion and cue them when to move to the next direction. You can always use one version and return to the more complicated activities later. 

  • We encourage you to use a wide range of music when playing with these activities. Use whatever music you and your child prefer and challenge them with new genres such as classical and jazz. Let it be fun and creative for them!

  • The possibilities are endless. Some days it’s harder for children to come up with new ideas. Don’t be afraid to let go of one activity and come back to it later or the next day. Every new experience is a chance to talk about and express new emotions! 

Directions in Movement 

Early Childhood Movement Lesson Plan by The Dancer Movement Corp

 

OVERVIEW & PURPOSE

The Directions in Movement activities help children gain spatial awareness and a strong sense of different directional movements. In moving their bodies in a new combination of directions they are practicing balance, control, and motor skills.  Even when done alone, these activities encourage group participation and community engagement. Each of these activities will encourage the children to discover new and exciting ways that they can move their bodies. 

 

Objectives

  1. Help children practice coordination, balance, muscle control, and develop motor skills.  

  2. Encourage new movement patterns to strengthen muscles.  

  3. Understanding visual association with body movements. 

Materials Needed

  1. Directional arrow flashcards.  



Activities

Activity 1. Start by showing each directional arrow one by one and having the child make a shape in that direction (ie: the up arrow might prompt the child to reach their hands up and stand on their tip toes. The down arrow may prompt the child to lie on the ground). Once they have a sense of each direction encourage new shapes and movements so they don’t get stuck repeating the same movement for the directional changes. 

Now for the fun part! Pick their favorite music and play freeze dance, but here’s the catch: start by letting the child free dance when the music is on, when you stop the music hold one of the arrow flashcards up and have the child freeze in a position inspired by that direction (freeze high or low or upside down!). Do this as many times as you’d like and let the child get comfortable and creative with it. 

You can make this even more challenging by reversing it. Instead of holding the directions when they are frozen, give them a direction to move in when the music is on (dancing upside down or backwards) and then freezing however they want. 

 

Activity 2: Start by reviewing the directional arrows and the different ways the child explored moving through them. With this activity play the second version of freeze dance where the child is moving in the direction of the arrow while the music is on and freezing however they’d like. This time layer together two directions (they can go together or be oppositional: *HINT: This is a great time to talk about opposites and introduce the idea of them to your child). See the back of your flashcards for good pairings (Ie: upside and backwards. Up versus down. Side to side and down low). 



Activity 3: The third activity is a fun way to introduce musical cues. Don’t stress if you aren’t a musical person. We recommend pop music (easy to find on Youtube or Spotify by searching for something like “Kids Pop” or “Kids Dance Songs”) because usually we can feel this beat (just start clapping or tapping your foot). Encourage the child to do the same so they start to feel the beat of the music. Once you have this you can start counting your claps or foot taps until the number 8 then starting over (encourage your child to count with you if they can!). 

Once you have a song you feel you and your child can keep 8 count beats to, have them put the directional arrow flashcards in a random order. You will dance in each direction for 8 counts of music (if you can’t find the beat of the song just make your own and count to 8 then switch to the next direction). This might look like: 8 counts of dancing on the floor then 8 counts of moving side to side then 8 counts of reaching high to the sky, etc. You can keep rearranging and discovering new orders! You’ll see that the child not only has to navigate the directions but the different transitions from one to the other. 

 

Tips

  • Remember you can take these exercises at the pace your child needs. Keep with the game that seems to encourage the most creative movement. The more they experiment with new movements the more coordination, balance, control and strength they build.  

  • Take your time in layering these activities and putting together the different freeze dance styles. Some children may need more time/days to create different movements and understand the directions. You can always use one version and return to the more complicated activities later. 

  • Don’t get hung up on the music. There is no wrong answer here! Play around with what you search online. Some helpful phrases to search are: Kids Classical, Kids Dance Party, Piano Covers, Classical Jazz. 

  • The possibilities are endless. Some days it’s harder for children to come up with new ideas. Don’t be afraid to let the ideas go and come back to them later or the next day. It takes time for new exploration to set in and you’ll be surprised what a day can change! New music can also inspire new ideas. 

Seasons of Movement 

Early Childhood Movement Lesson Plan by The Dancer Movement Corp

OVERVIEW & PURPOSE

The Seasons of Movement activities help children connect the movements of their own bodies to the movement in the world around them. Even when done alone, these activities encourage group participation and community engagement. Each of these activities will encourage the children to discover new and exciting ways that they can explore movement. 

 

Objectives

  1. Help children explore new shapes and movement patterns. 

  2. Encourage children to notice movement in the world around them and start to recognize patterns. 

  3. Understand visual association with body movements. 

 

Materials Needed

  1. Seasons of Movement Flashcards




 

Activities

Activity 1. Help children learn each shape/movement and associate it with the picture (if five shapes are too challenging you can start with one or two and slowly add in more over time). Start by showing them the picture while making the dance shape with your own body (ie: show them the summer card while standing in a wide ’X’ with your body). Then show them the movement in your body while verbally enforcing what the shape is (ie: say “summer” while standing in a wide ‘X’ with your body). Have them repeat both with you while making the shape in their bodies (“now you make the shape with me”). Encourage them to notice the details (“where are my feet?” “Do your arms match where my arms are?”)

Once they have repeated a few times you can go through the shapes one at a time challenging them to remember the shapes associated with each picture. For younger age children you don’t have to focus on memorizing which shape goes with each card. You can remind them with verbal cues or by physically making the shape in your body first. Older children will start to memorize and associate each shape with each picture. They may need you to make the shapes with them, that’s ok! If they have the shapes memorized make it more challenging by showing multiple shapes in a row or moving through the pictures at a faster speed. 

 

Activity 2: Start this activity by reviewing the shapes you learned last time. Come up with helpful associations for the shapes that the child is still struggling to remember (“When I see the summer picture I make a starfish shape with my arms and legs.”).  Today you can challenge the child to make all the shapes at a fast speed, encouraging faster response times. 

Show one picture, let them create the associated shape in their body then flash the next picture (moving through the shapes one at a time like flashcards). This is even more fun when you put on a song your child is familiar with and let them move with the tempo of the music (making it start to feel like a dance). 



Activity 3: Start again by reviewing the pictures and associated shapes. Now you have five shapes to play with and choose from. When reviewing, try the game from the previous lesson using a different song. 

Today’s activity will culminate with the child getting to put the shapes together into a cohesive dance! Lay out each of the shapes in a random order and let the child reorder the shapes into a mini “movement sentence”. Practice the new order of shapes (keeping them laid out in that order for a visual cue they can “read” along with while they move). Encourage verbal reading if that helps the child remember the movements. Let the child change the order of the cards if their body is having a hard time with that particular sequence (maybe the levels are changing too frequently or too drastically between shapes). Now pick a song and try the movement sentence all together with music! What were your child’s observations? Was that song too fast or too slow? Try it with another contrasting song and make observations: Did we like doing one better than the other? Was it more difficult to do one over the other? You can keep rearranging these pictures to make endless and exciting movement sentences! 


 

Tips

  • Remember that every child learns in different manners. Encourage different means of helping them associate the picture with the movement. For some children watching your body make the shape is helpful, but for some it may be more helpful to give verbal cues or hints. 

  • Take your time in layering these activities and putting together the pictures and movements. Some children may need more time/days to create the associations. You can start with just looking at the pictures and making the shapes then move on to another Dancer Movement Early Childhood Movement Lesson Plan. You can always return to the more complicated activities later. 

  • Take this into the world! These pictures are purposefully things that your children may/will encounter in the world. Encourage them to see the movement of these objects in the real world so their own movements are more powerful (“Look at the way leaves spin when they are falling off the trees!” “What shapes do see in that flower?”).

Moving in Shapes 

Early Childhood Movement Lesson Plan by The Dancer Movement Corp

 

OVERVIEW & PURPOSE

The Moving in Shapes activities guide children through different ways of moving their body through shapes that they are learning. This lesson is meant to show children that their body uses the same aspects of movement that shapes do: straight and curvy lines, corners, and angles. Each of these activities will encourage the children to move in new ways while working on balance, core strength, and crossbody movements. 

 

OBJECTIVES

  1. Help children explore the shapes in the world around them as well as the shapes they can make with their bodies. 

  2. Strengthen gross motor skills, core muscles,  and mind-body connect and awareness. 

  3. Understand visual association with body movements. 

 

MATERIALS NEEDED

  1. Moving in Shapes flashcards.




 

Activities

Activity 1.**If the child has not been introduced to most of the shapes on the flashcards just start by looking at them and talking about them. You don’t need to rush movement before the child has had a chance to notice and see each shape. 

Then start by encouraging the child to make a steady shape with their body that correlates to the shape they see on each card. This is a great time to introduce new shapes (for younger children who haven’t explored shapes yet) or talk about each aspect of a shape (lines, angles, curves, etc). Once you have gone through each shape card a few times (try one standing and once sitting on the floor) encourage the child to draw each shape in the air (instead of making a circle with your arms, try drawing a circle with your nose). Be sure to play with different body parts drawing the shape and also where the child is drawing (you can draw a shape on the floor, the ceiling, or in front of you). 

 

Activity 2: Review each of the shape flashcards and put some music on while the child practices making each shape and drawing each shape. Today focus on noticing what the child tends to do automatically (typically when we cue “draw” they will use their hands) and try to prompt new ideas. 

For this activity we will combine the shape flashcards and the arrow flashcards! Have the child randomly pick a shape flashcard and then pick an arrow flashcard. Put on some music and let the child explore this shape in the direction of the arrow (this can be making a steady shape or drawing the shape in the air). Keep rotating shapes and arrows until the child has explored most of the options (the possibilities are endless!). 



Activity 3: For this activity we will put each of the shapes in order for a dance. You can either let the child arrange the shape cards while looking at them or you can hold them up backwards and let the child randomly select what comes next. Practice the shapes in this order once using a steady shape (make a triangle then make a circle) and again while drawing the shapes (draw a diamond then draw a heart). Let them explore this order a few times before rearranging the cards. **Hint: you can pair these dances with the arrow cards as well or with the emotion cards. For each full dance pick a direction the child will do the dance in or an emotion the child will dance with.


 

Tips

  • Remember that shapes are introduced to children at all different ages. The child will get the most from the movement activity if they recognize shapes they’ve seen before. You can always start with these cards as non-movement flashcards and just start learning about shapes. Remember to point out what the child can notice about each shape “a triangle has three points”.  

  • It can be difficult for the child to picture “drawing” a shape in the air without any real visualization. You can help them by having them draw the shape on paper so they can see it and then trace it with a body part (or they can trace the shape on the card). 

  • Remember when it comes to interpretive movements there aren’t any wrong answers. You may not see that the child is drawing or making the shape that is on the flashcard, but they are discovering new ways to move their bodies and may not have the strength or flexibility for all of the shapes yet. The true purpose of the cards is to cue mind-body connection and new movement patterns. 

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