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Game Ideas for Elementary School Dance

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I need a game to play at an elementary school dance. We've tried limbo and hula hooping but we're looking for something else for a large group of kids. Any ideas?

Ceil from Chicago, IL

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By Kathy02/05/2011

This might not be the right place to add this feedback, but if you have a cohesive, tight-knit group of kids, or you want to try this a few weeks before a dance, it might help the kids have a good time.

I teach my elementary music students the basics of dance - where to put your hands on the other person, how to move their feet and hold their arms, how to lead and follow (close your eyes, girls!), how to do a few twirls, etc.

After they've learned a basic step-touch, step-touch foot pattern and the basics of where to put their hands, success now depends on how long they have to dance with each person. More partners and less time with each one makes this more palatable to kids, and I've used this strategy through 8th grade.

I have boys stand in one line, girls in a line opposite them. Everyone stays in the same place in line. I tell the class, "When I say, 'Back to your places; Switch!' the girl on this end runs to the back of the line and all the girls move over one." (Make sure they all know to move the right direction!)

Then the dancing starts. Here's what I say: "Girls, go to the boy. Boys, put your left hand out with your thumb pointing backwards. Girls, put your right hand on top of his. Girls, put your other hand on his shoulder. Boys, put your other hand on her back. Now, step-tap, step-tap, step-tap, step-tap. Okay, Switch! Mary, run to the end of the line. Girls, all of you move one body to the (right.) Okay, boys, put your left hand out - that's the hand closest to the windows. Put your thumb pointing backwards. Girls, right hand on his hand, put your other hand on his shoulder. etc. In 10 minutes, a class of 14 pairs can rotate through every person - including sitting down for a quick demonstration, twice. It goes that fast.

If there are no more than 4-8 step-taps, they usually settle down after 4-5 partner switches. They get involved in the speed/game-ness of the activity, instead of the boy/girl-ness of dancing. When it's time to show them a new move, I have them sit down where they are so I can demonstrate - but that's usually less than a minute. (I've had a few years of practice to get essential information out in a short amount of time!)

As long as it goes fast like this, kids actually ask if they can dance the next time they have music. The key is to do it have just a few seconds of contact with each partner.

I've found that, in a fairly well-behaved, middle class school, students in K-1 are generally not cootie-conscious, grades 2-3 do better when told at the beginning of class that another class is a little ahead of them, and grades 4-6 are OK if it goes fast.

I do make the loudest talkers/complainers my victim/demonstration partners : ), and I explain that it hurts my & other students' feelings if someone cringes or touches them with only one finger.

It also helps if HS kids can come and swing dance at the actual dance. I find it's better if they come at the dance and not the initial lessons. If younger kids see the older kids showing off their skills first, some will see dancing as something too difficult to achieve. But if they've already goofed around when they were supposed to be learning, they realize what they were supposed to be doing in class wasn't all that hard, and if it's going to make them look that cool, it will be worth the effort next time.

I hope this helps somebody!

By Porta Party DJ Chris (Guest Post)12/15/2008

Dont forget to play musical chairs! Also go to a local fast food restaurant and get a bunch of paper sacks, big enough to fit over someones head and hand them out, and then have a dance contest. People will still dance, but they wont have to look you in the eye!

By Cyinda [214]12/09/2008

If I were you, I'd talk the folks running this into changing the name "DANCE" to a school "Party", or a "Fun get-together" or even "Holiday fun-fest" ANYTHING but the word "DANCE" I think Elementary school kids are to young for a "dance" & some parents even find Jr High school kids to young to go to a dance. The word "Dance" makes you think of boys & girls together in couples or even "dating".

By jkkn (Guest Post)12/09/2008

The Macarena, Cotten-eye Joe, Chicken dance, etc. At my son's 6th grade dance the organizers did a great job keeping the kids interested. They integrated "wedding dance" type of songs among the more popular, age appropriate songs (they played a lot of Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, Daughtry,etc.) Basically they didn't let them sit down! Even my wallflower, non -dancing son had a great time.

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