Go to top of page

Let's dance

-
Cultural events

Duration/age

Duration: 
Suitable for children: 
Group of children dancing

Children are natural movers and shakers. As they grow, your child is constantly exploring how to move their body in different ways.

Sometimes they are exploring how to move through an object, such as a tunnel. Other times they might be exploring how to move their body in time to the music and the beat.

It’s really fast music - I can’t jump as fast as that.

They can also try to move their body in time with another person. You can play music and encourage your child to copy the moves you are making. You could also play songs and encourage them to listen and respond to the directions.

Copy what I’m doing. Let’s move forward then back and then to the side. Ready?

You can dance or play movement games with your child. Try holding hands and see how many different ways you can move together. Start down low, as close to the ground as you can get, gradually moving up till you are standing on the tips of your toes. Can you both swing your arms in time to the music?

Let’s make up our own dance. Hold my hand so we can move together. First we’ll jump on one leg three times and then three times on the other leg.

Materials you will need

  • CD player
  • Music
  • Radio

Alternative tools

  • Your voice
  • Tapping sticks
  • Tapping stones

Why does this matter?

As children dance they are learning about geometry while developing motor and listening skills.

Dancing helps children to understand space, shape, form, structure and how they can be changed or transformed. These are important skills for reading maps, designing rooms or gardens and for moving between or around objects.

When children are dancing with another person or to music, they are developing their listening skills and learning to follow directions. When dancing, your child will hear instructions in a continual flow that they have to quickly hear, interpret and then do.

As they dance they’re using all of their body and senses. They are developing strength, control and coordination in all of their body parts including the large muscles in their trunk. Having a strong core, or trunk, is important as it helps children with good sitting posture.

What does this lead to?

Through dance children are exploring the space around them and the relationship between people and objects nearby. As they explore space and movement they are developing mathematical ways of thinking. Mathematical thinking involves using memory, learning how to orient your body in space and making judgements about distance and size.

The development of good listening skills is important for following directions and for conveying information to another person. If children do not listen carefully when they are given information they:

  • could go to the wrong place
  • might not be sure of what they need to do to complete a task
  • could give the wrong information to another person

If children do not have a good sitting posture they are not able to write for long periods of time because they will get tired and start to lean on the desk. Leaning over affects the range of movement children have for writing and drawing.

Language to use

  • Twirl, whirl, slide, shimmy, shake
  • Roll, bop, bounce, hop, jump, gallop
  • Low, high, forwards, backwards, around, together
  • Front, back, side
  • Beat, music, count, rhythm
  • Fast, slow, quick, steady, changing, timing
  • Movement, direction, position, space
  • Start, finish, stop
  • Arm, hand, wrist, fingers
  • Leg, foot, ankle, toes
  • Head, neck, shoulders
  • Waist, hips, tummy

Questions to use

  • How fast can you twirl?
  • Is the beat of the music fast or slow?
  • Can you start moving down low and then move up high?
  • Can you move your legs faster than your arms?

Useful tips

  1. Practice hopping, jumping and moving when you are out and about, before including them in a dance sequence.
  2. Rubber boots and thongs can be very tricky to dance in.
  3. Some children might be embarrassed if an adult watches them dance, but will still love to move and groove.
  4. Many communities and cultures will have their own traditional dance that your child can learn.
  5. Remember to talk to your child in your home language.

More ideas

  1. Make streamers for your child to hold that will move and twirl with them.
  2. Make bangles of bells to wear on your wrists and ankles. Listen to the sounds they make as you move, twirl and whirl.
  3. Encourage your child to move within a defined space, such as a shadow or between trees.
  4. Play the limbo game.

Variation by age

Birth to two year olds

  • Play songs to your child that encourages them to listen and follow the actions.
  • Hold your child’s hand and swing and sway together.
  • Play moving games like ’Ring a Ring o Rosie’ together.

Three to five year olds

  • Set up a dance floor in the lounge room.
  • Play songs to your child that encourages them to listen and follow the actions.
  • Tap sticks and stones and see if your child can hop or jump at the same pace as you tap.
  • Make a dancing dress up box. Put in clothing that has different length hems and sleeves to experiment with moving.

Questions to ask

    • What do you need to do with your hands?
    • Are you jumping or hopping?
    • Do we start up or down?

    Questions to ask

      • How fast is the music?
      • Is this music faster than the last song?
      • Where does the song ask you to start - up high or down low?
      • Can you hop and jump if you have a long skirt on?
      • Is there enough space for more than one person to dance?

      Language to use

        • Start, finish, stop
        • Arm, hand, wrist, fingers
        • Leg, foot, ankle, toes
        • Head, neck, shoulders
        • Waist, hips, tummy
        • Twirl, whirl, slide, shimmy, shake
        • Roll, bop, bounce, hop, jump, gallop
        • Up, down, next to, beside

        Language to use

          • Twirl, whirl, slide, shimmy, shake
          • Roll, bop, bounce, hop, jump, gallop
          • Low, high, forwards, backwards, around, together
          • Front, back, side
          • Beat, music, count, rhyme
          • Fast, slow, quick, steady, changing, timing