Incorporating Square Dancing Into Your PE Class

Happy International Square Dancing Month! Promenade and Do-si-do your way to a delightful dance form that children find intriguing and fun!  Square Dancing has been taught in elementary schools around the country for generations.  It’s easy to teach and has many benefits for everyone from children to adults.

While you may be aware of the physical benefits that dancing provides, there are many cognitive and SEL related skills that dancing also can offer children.  Square dancing, in particular, is great for the developing minds of young children.  The call and response style of square dancing helps teach the value of listening and reinforces the importance of following directions.  The calls are in patterns, a basic math skill.  The repetitive nature of the songs and steps are great for increasing coordination and rhythmic response. And, of course, dancing with a partner is an ideal way to teach cooperation, socialization and taking turns.

If you’re interested in incorporating square dance into your PE curriculum, the first thing you’ll need is a great square dance album with songs that children will enjoy. Our favorite, Get Ready to Square Dance , is easy to do – it starts off with simple calls and builds up to two complete dances.  Click here to watch a PE class using this recording to learn the promenade movement.

You can also check out more great Square Dancing music options on our website.  We know your children will have a great time and also gain some very important skills!

More video examples of square dancing in PE classes with the Get Ready to Square Dance recording:

Comin’ Round the Mountain

Oh Belinda

Capt. Jinks

Turkey in the Straw

Shoo Fly

 

Educational Activities, Inc. led the way of introducing square dancing to schools across the country.  Read “Our Story” to learn more!

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Enhance Play-Based Learning with Music and Movement

Are you ready for the new school year and your new students? There’s a flurry of new people and new experiences, which are exciting but may be overwhelming.  It’s not unusual for some children to be apprehensive.  Most children enjoy music and movement activities.  As the year begins, these activities can help calm fears, engage the children and be a way to introduce them to one another.  If your program is play-based or child-centered, there are many opportunities to use music and movement to not only “break the ice,” but also enhance your curriculum. 

Play – whether building with blocks, painting, dressing up, throwing a ball or jumping – is known to develop many skills.  Eye-hand coordination, fine and gross motor skills, problem solving, social skills and cognitive development are known to increase with play.  Incorporating music and movement into your play-based curriculum provides a wealth of benefits along with a lot of fun!

Songs, especially those developed intentionally, are classroom-tested and proven, can contribute to vocabulary development and physical development.  (Learning Basic Skills Through Music and Movement, Vol. 4 – Vocabulary)  A song about fast and slow, where children respond and move accordingly, gives kids a concrete understanding of the concepts.  (Walter the Waltzing Worm )

Songs can help children learn the names of body parts, the alphabet (Silly Willy Moves Through the ABCs) and numbers (Math Readiness).  Fingerplays develop fine motor skills critical to writing.  (Fingerplays and Footplays)

Music and movement can provide a social opportunity.  Songs that explore feelings, getting along with others and sharing help young children identify emotions and develop social skills. (Getting to Know Myself)

In most songs developed for the classroom, the notes and beats are patterned.  As children listen to the music, they intuitively learn the patterns – an important math skill.

Songs aid ELL students’ language acquisition while developing and reinforcing skills for ALL children.

Music and songs developed for early learning can easily be incorporated into your daily lessons. Most children have a natural joy for music.  Why not let them explore music as part of your play-based learning program?

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Physical Activity Important in Your Classroom

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports month, so this month’s blog focuses on physical fitness in the classroom.  Everyone knows that being physically active is good for you. There are obvious benefits to being active.  For instance, it helps reduce the risk of obesity and it helps build and maintain healthy bones and muscles. But did you know that physical activity also has some very important benefits for children in the classroom?

Reduces Stress

Regular activity has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression in children and adolescents.  Additionally, aerobic activity produces brain chemicals that promote a feeling of well-being.

 

Increases Self Confidence

Children who are regularly active have a higher sense of self efficacy, which means they have better confidence in their ability to complete tasks and learn new activities. (source: Active Academics)

 

Increases Concentration and Improves Academic Performance

Physical activity breaks during the school day have an effect on children’s behavior, attention span, ability to concentrate and test scores. In fact, studies have shown that students did better on standardized tests after moderate physical activity as compared to students who had been sitting for 20 minutes prior to testing. (source: Neuroscience, 2009)

 

Develops Empathy and Social Skills

Team sports and physical activity have been associated with improved self-esteem, better nutrition and less smoking and drug abuse among children.  Additionally, studies also show that physical activity fosters leadership skills and empathy in children and may also reinforce healthy lifestyle behaviors.

 

No Gym? P.E. in the Classroom

Many schools don’t have gyms.  Therefore, they don’t offer children the amount of physical activity needed to be successful.  Some have even cut out recess – a time for free play – from the school day entirely.  Here are some ideas you can use in your classroom to help your students get the physical activity they need.

  • Start the day off right with a quick 10-minute yoga sequence. Grab your students’ focus right from the start. Creative Yoga Exercises for Children incorporates relatable animal activities that are easy for children to learn.
  • During reading time, read a book aloud while the children walk around. When they hear an “action word” (verb) have them act it out.
  • Lessons on the go – Walk to an area (either indoors or out) where you can focus on your topic. For instance, if you are studying measurements, take the kids to different areas of the school to practice measuring different objects like the height of a step or the width of the hallway, let the kids stretch, squat and move around.
  • Hopscotch math – Have kids answer math questions by hopping onto the correct numbers on the floor.
  • Acting out – Try reviewing vocabulary words by playing charades. Children will act out the words as others try to guess them.
  • Take your science lesson outside – if you teach in an area where you can take the kids outside to experience hands on science, do it!
  • Take short (3-4 minute) activity breaks throughout the day to get the blood pumping, relieve boredom, reduce tension and increase your students’ level of alertness. A good way to do this is with music. Silly Willy Workout is an engaging album with songs that can be used individually for short breaks, or the entire album can be used as a physical education class.
  • Most importantly, don’t forget to stress the importance of being physically active to your students. According to the CDC, children should have at least 60 minutes of exercise per day. Encourage them to go to the park after school or participate in a sport.

 

For more information about physical activity in the classroom check out our other blog articles:

Encouraging Physical Activity Indoors  and Increase Student Focus with These 9 Movement Activities

 

For more information about the importance of children’s health on learning, visit the CDC’s Healthy Schools website.

 

Posted in Health, Music & Movement, News, Physical Education, What's New Tagged with: , , ,

MUSIC AND MOVEMENT – GATEWAY TO SUCCESS!

What are some of the benefits of music and movement?  Take under 7 minutes to see Rae Pica – one of the foremost child development experts in education – describe some of the skills, concepts and growth children achieve through music and movement!*

Music and movement engage children in active learning.  They promote vocabulary development, academic skills and social and emotional development, and make learning FUN!

Engaging songs and developmentally-appropriate activities provide a wealth of opportunities for best practices learning in early childhood, help foster creativity and support children’s communication skills.

  • SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL LEARNING – Get along and cooperate with others, understand and manage feelings, stay focused, self awareness, self management, social awareness, relationship skills, and make good decisions.
  • LITERACY AND LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT – Exposure to language through stories and songs is a great way to develop and expand vocabulary and foundational skills.
  • ACTIVE, PURPOSEFUL PLAY – Movement activities help children master gross motor skills, fine motor skills; opportunities to pretend through movement songs (e.g., walk like an elephant, swim like a fish, etc.) are critical and help prepare children for success.

Integrating music and movement into your daily lesson plans is a fun and easy-to-implement strategy for learning success!

 

*Rae Pica is also an educational consultant, author of 19 books and the recording (available at www.EdAct.com) Wiggle, Giggle & Shake.

 

Posted in Literacy & Language, Music & Movement, Social & Emotional Behavior, Uncategorized, What's New Tagged with: , , ,

Teaching Tolerance in the Classroom

SEL - Martin Luther King

Today we celebrate the life of one of the most influential and important figures in American History.  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spent his life teaching and speaking about the importance of diversity and tolerance. We talk about tolerance in the classroom and tolerance in our world.  What exactly is tolerance?  What does it mean?

SEL - Martin Luther King

Tolerance is respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human. (Source: https://www.tolerance.org/about)

It seems like a simple concept.  Just appreciate everyone for who they are.  Well, for young children it is.  Tolerance is a concept that becomes more complicated as we get older, as politics and external daily biases begin to play roles in our lives.  It is critical to emphasize the importance of respect and appreciation for all cultures and backgrounds at a young age so that children can carry this respect for others with them throughout their lives.

What You Can Do

Celebrate diversity every day.  Make your classroom a safe place to talk about differences in culture and family.  Let the children feel proud about who they are and who the others are in the classroom.  Even though they may all be different, they are all important to each other and to your classroom as a whole.

Young children are still learning to recognize and manage their own feelings.  It can be difficult for them to be tolerant and empathetic toward others when they are still confused about how they are feeling.  A developmentally appropriate and engaging SEL program can help children learn to navigate their feelings.  Children will begin to recognize other’s emotions and empathize with peers; they will also understand how to handle angry feelings in more positive ways.

As a teacher, you have a great influence on a child’s life.  You already know that teaching is more than reading and writing.  It is about shaping the future of your students’ lives and helping them progress through life as successful and happy people. As Dr. King so eloquently summed it up, “Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”

 

Additional Resources:

For more information about creating an SEL program in your classroom, visit our previous article: Social-Emotional Learning and Its Connection to Life-long Success

You can find free resources and lesson plans for teaching tolerance in the classroom here: https://www.tolerance.org

Posted in Social & Emotional Behavior, What's New Tagged with: , ,