Friday, July 27, 2012

Nursery Rhyme Yoga

Hey Diddle Diddle
the Cat (pose) and the fiddle,
The Cow (pose) jumped over the (half) Moon (pose).
The little (downward and upward) Dog (pose) laughed to see such sport,
and the dish ran away with the spoon.

And that is just what we did. Using a nursery rhyme book with illustrations, we recited the rhyme. Then, I introduced each pose as we recited the poem. I would ask the group questions like What was that animal that played the fiddle? or What was it that the cow jumped over? Upon their responses, I would introduce the next pose. After learning them all, we recited the rhyme together incorporating the poses.

For our yoga game,  I introduced each group to the yoga cube. Cubes are a great tool for getting little ones to get moving. Each side of the cube can have a different movement, or in this case, yoga pose. Each student is given an opportunity to shake and throw the cube into the center of the circle. That alone gets children moving! Whatever the cube lands on is the movement or pose we all do together.

I love cubes for creative movement, but they are also useful for songs, all about me questions, or simply turn taking skills. I have been decorating cube shaped tissue boxes for mine, however, they are not perfectly cubed. This presents an issue as it tends to favor certain sides over others. In the Nursery Rhyme Yoga class, it meant we did a lot of downward dog!

I think next time I need to rework my cube a little bit before decorating.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Vegetables and a Seed Planting Dance

Part of my goal for these classes is to connect language to movement so that students have a kinetic language learning experience.  Up, Down, and Around by Katherine Ayres was a great catalyst for just that. This story allowed us to explore movement of how things grow up, down, and around. For the reading of the book, I had the children sit on the rug. Because this book has predictable text, the preschool students were able to read along while acting out the movements with their arms. After the book, we played a movement game based on the text.

Taking my cue from the book, I asked students questions like, "If you've tried  corn, stand up!" and continued this with all the vegetables in the story and their corresponding movement, "If you've tried beets, sit down," "If you've tried tomatoes, turn around!" The children seemed to have a lot of fun with this and it was great to see them react to the different foods that were called out.

Years ago in an African dance class in Cambridge, Ma, I learned a seed planting dance.  It is a dance that has stayed with me and has been incorporated into many of my creative movement classes. To transition to the seed planting dance, we discussed how each of the vegetables in the story began as seeds.

We began by making a basket shape with one arm. With the other arm, we acted out removing the seeds and tossing them into the soil. Once we got that movement down, I continued the story of the dance. We carry the babies on our backs while we plant the seeds, so we have to bounce them to keep them happy. We combine the movements and I put on the music. Together, we planted seeds all around the room while bouncing the babies. Boy and girl alike enjoy performing this dance and it is such a pleasure to witness their jubilation! Back on the rug, we put the babies to bed for a nap and continued to free dance; a celebration for planting all the seeds.

To end class we sat on the rug together and I asked each child what was their favorite fruit or vegetable and followed-up with a sticker. This was a nice way to cool down and end class as well as interact one-on-one with the children. At the end of my last class I was able to stay a little longer to converse with some of the children further. It was a wonderful dialogue of children telling me and each other all different kinds of fruits and vegetables they enjoyed, a wonderful way to end the class.

Food, love, and dance.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Barnyard Hoedown

This week we read Barnyard Dance! by Sandra Boynton, a great book gushing with movement words. Because there were so many movement words, I decided to write them all on slips of paper and put them in a jar. After the story, each student had a turn to draw from the jar and tell us what movement to do. I used language straight out of the book like, twirl with the pig, bounce with the bunny, prance with the horses. The student would open the folded paper (a great fine motor challenge for this age group), I would read it aloud, and then the student would demonstrate the move for the group. Then, I would play the ukulele while all the children tried out the movement.

After each student got a turn, we all went down to the hoedown. I encouraged students to incorporate any of the moves we tried, or be any animal from the story, or just dance how they like. We did this for a few minutes until I had all the children hold hands in a big circle. We ended the class by having each student enter the circle and show-off their favorite moves while the rest of the circle clapped and cheered. For the hoedown music, I played Bela Fleck and the Flecktones' Throw down at the Hoedown off their album Left of Cool- how could I not? That quick banjo playing funk style is perfect for these classes!