Children's Dance Games for Teachers

Children's dance games help teach a variety of curricula in the classroom, in addition to building confidence and teamwork among students. Using safety and classroom control, a teacher effectively utilises children's dance games to release pent-up energy or warm up for other drama activities.

General Guidelines

When leading dance games for a group of children, create an environment of acceptance. Stress the effort, rather than praising the product. Encourage each child to learn and participate to his own level of ability, and focus on the emotional safety of the group. Do not allow children to mock or taunt each other's participation or abilities during or after the game. Additionally, emphasise physical safety by setting clear boundaries in the classroom.

Warm students up to the dancing games by introducing group participation games first, followed by those that highlight the individual, then move into performance-style games if students progress with enthusiasm. Steer away from giving direction and criticism at each step--simply back away into less-advanced activities when games fail, then bring them up again at a later time.

Pass the Dance

For this group-oriented dance game, have students form a circle in a large open space, stretched arm's width apart from each other. Play upbeat music from a playlist or CD on repeat, so that every student takes multiple turns. Choose a student to start the dance, giving the guideline that the dance should be in her own space, physically safe and repetitive enough to be easily followed by the class. Every student mirrors the leader's dance indefinitely, until the next student in the circle feels ready to become the leader by starting her own dance, which all students follow by mirroring it exactly. Each student takes a turn as leader of the dance until the next person takes it, passing it around the circle as many times as time allows.

Pass the Dance works well as an opening dance activity because it gets all students engaged in the activity, and it gives each student the space and time to decide when to take the lead from the previous leader. Students are empowered from the ability to lead all the students, and allowing students to create their own dances encourages creativity and confidence.

Musical Chairs: Dance Style

Playing musical chairs with a fun dancing twist gives children the chance to enjoy a high-energy game while performing and dancing in the classroom. Set one fewer chairs than students in a back-to-back line, and ask students to circle them walking. Stress safety. When the music stops, the one left without a chair gets to compete in the "side game" by dancing his way out to a 15- to 30-second piece of upbeat music. Show recognition for all participants by giving awards like "Most Acrobatic," "Most Energetic," "Arm Movement Award," and any other appropriate choices. Limit awards to observable behaviour, rather than using judgment words like "prettiest" or "best."