Dance classes are ideal for toddlers because children love to move, and dancing promotes physical activity, creative expression and free play. Engaging a child in dancing activities also increases attention span and supports gross motor coordination and development.
Dance and Props
An encouraging way to engage children in a dance activity is to use props. For example, giving children hand drums while asking them to march to a beat is more motivating than simply marching. Using other props like wrist ribbons, bean bags, scarves and shakers are also inspiring to children. There are even contemporary children's songs that encourage the use of instruments like shakers.
A popular dance activity for children is the freeze dance. Freeze dances can be done with or without props. The freeze dance encourages listening and the ability to control impulses. During this activity, ask toddlers to listen to the music, and when the music stops, they must all freeze wherever they are. When the music starts up again, they can begin dancing again. Ask toddlers to follow a leader around in a circle or allow them to move around the room freely.
Imitation and Improvisation
Many dances involve following a leader or even imitating animals. Children love to move and act like different animals, and this activity is a great way to teach children about different animals and the sounds and movements they make. Following directions is also a goal of a dance class, so teachers or facilitators should always give clear and concise directions. Teachers should also do the movements themselves, so the toddlers can follow along. Dance classes are also great platforms for creative expression, and encouraging children to make up their own movements can help improve body awareness.
Dance classes should contain dances with simple instructions, and the movements should typically have purpose. Movements that are taught should be ones that children can use in daily life, like hopping, galloping, marching, tiptoeing and walking backward. Using opposite words like high and low, forward and backward, and slow and fast are also ideal because they give simple directions. Also keep in mind the age group of the children and what motor skills they have already acquired and what movements they are capable of doing.