From Head to Toe by Eric Carle
By Jill Randall, Blog Director
From Head to Toe. Stomp, Dinosaur, Stomp. Bea at Ballet. These are three examples of picture books that I love using within dance classes.
Books add to the richness of the dance class experience for young children - offering them kinesthetic, visual, and auditory ways of learning. Especially with young children, we are always seeking those “ways in” for engagement and participation. You will be surprised how many children love a simple incorporation of a book within your dance program.
How did I begin my own love of adding books to my dance classes? I learned how to teach children from Mary Ann Lee of Tanner Dance in Salt Lake City (one of the largest creative dance centers in the United States). Mary Ann showed us the endless possibilities of picture books - how a simple story, or group of images, could lead to a magical 45 minute dance class. Books are such a simple and natural way to introduce a concept such as pathways, tempo, or a variety of locomotor steps through words and images.
From parent/child classes to fifth grade classes, many picture books can easily be used within a lesson. Some books have text that literally can be used to develop a group dance, while other books can be quick inspiration for an improvisation activity.
You might take 5 minutes to read the whole book, or simply show a few pages of a book as a visual.
I use books specifically about dancing but more often about other springboards for movement, including: the alphabet, animals, seasons, water, and nighttime. My favorite category of books is “magic and whimsy” - books that can be used mainly with 3rd-5th graders that capture bigger concepts such as love and togetherness through poetic text. In 1997, I saw Gigi Arrington lead a project with 3rd graders based on the book Sadako; that made a strong impact on me and modeled how to make a dance with children based on a book with a powerful message.
I encourage you to select a few titles and head to your local library for some resource gathering!
Jill Randall is the Blog Director for Dancing Words (www.dancingwords.typepad.com). You can find hundreds of book titles on her site.