Today's post was written by my friend and colleague Juliana Monin. Wiggle is a great new addition to your dance book collection and can be enjoyed at home, in a parent/child dance class, and in preschool classes.
Last week I came across Wiggle! by Taro Gomi and had to get it to try with the preschoolers I teach in Berkeley. They love impersonating animals, and I thought this might be a great way to get them to move from simply imitating animal movements into translating those movements into other parts of their bodies.
The book has eight board pages, each naming an animal and describing the type of movement it is doing with a particular body part. For example:
The elephant swings her trunk.
The twist on this book is that there is a hole for the trunk (or fang, tail, wing, etc).
Just reading the book has an active component as it requires one to use his or her own fingers to fill in the blanks of the story. A teacher or parent reading the book can allow the children to fill in the blanks as to what body part is missing by omitting the word while reading, thus encouraging body part identification.
What I did was have one child come up for each page and place his or her finger through the hole to complete the action. The rest of the class followed along by imagining and simulating with their own body parts. I would ask the student at the front of the class to vary the way he/she was performing the action, and the rest would follow along. “Can you peck your beak slowly? How about quickly? Please shake your rattle up and down, now side to side.”
Once we completed the book, students selected their own body parts and came up with a movement for that body part. The older students were able to name their body parts and name their movements. With the younger students, I had them point to a body part that we named and make up a movement that we also named. Movement names varied from the conventional “twirl” to the imaginative “super duper ninja jump.” Once a child demonstrated his or her movement, we all tried to do it the way he/she did it and then came up with ways of changing it. “Let’s make it move backwards. Do it in slow motion.”
As a third part to this study, we returned to the original action words from the book, and instead of imitating the animals, we explored our own ways of wiggling or pecking or flapping. “How do you flap your feet? Can you peck with your belly button?”
This book was a wonderful way for me to introduce a concept and to develop it into further explorations. The kids loved it and so did I!
Juliana Monin began teaching creative movement in 2008 under the guidance and mentorship of Jill Randall. She has enjoyed teaching dance to diverse groups of people as a dancer with AXIS Dance Company (2011-2014) and is passionate about making dance accessible and relevant to all bodies. She is currently on faculty at Shawl-Anderson Dance Center and is creating a progressive and inclusive dance program at Bentley Upper School.