Many children enjoy dancing and it does not take much to inspire them to move around. A few simple instructions can help children move from free-form dance to more coordinated, choreographed movements. Start with some easy dance steps so that children experience success and gain confidence.
Setting the Stage
It is imperative to create a safe, inspiring environment for children to dance. For very young children, carpets, mats or some other type of protective floor carpeting allows them to explore their physical limits with less chance of slipping. Dimming the lights can create a fun atmosphere. Music is another consideration. While the temptation may be to put on Raffi or another recording geared toward kids, you should explore different genres of music. Try a nice bongo-driven surf tune or put on the Gypsy Kings. Aim for upbeat and rhythmic.
Allow kids to move to the rhythm as they see fit. After they have a chance to explore different physical possibilities, start them with some simple moves such as marching, hopping, skipping, galloping, spinning, crawling and more. Name the moves as you show kids how to do them, so that they associate you calling out a direction with the action. Gradually start sequencing certain moves, like jumping back and forth to do the Bunny Hop, or sliding from left to right to do the Electric Slide. Some other easy dance moves are the Running Man, the Robot and the Charleston. You can also teach kids directional movement songs such as the Hokey Pokey, Eensy Weensy Spider, and Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.
One of the more entertaining and simplest ways to teach easy dance moves is through miming everyday actions. For example, teach kids The Shopping Cart dance, in which they push an imaginary cart with one hand while the other grabs stuff off shelves and tosses it in the cart. Try The Sprinkler, where the child slowly spins with one arm out, projecting an imaginary spray of water. The Lawnmower is another winner, beginning with starting the mower and then following it around with both hands grasping the handle.
Nina Makofsky has been a professional writer for more than 20 years. She specializes in art, pop culture, education, travel and theater. She currently serves as a Mexican correspondent for "Aishti Magazine," covering everything from folk art to urban trends. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Mills College.