Pre-K Dance and Movement with Elementary Head Start Students

At foundry10, we have a lot of opportunity for students at higher age levels to engage with dance and movement. In our early childhood programs, we normally focus on movement through story and dramatic arts. What about movement for the sake of movement? What can students in preschool learn from developing locomotor skills?

Through six 45-minute long sessions, in five different head start classes, our dance teaching artist, Carly Hutchison, interacted with close to one hundred students from ages three to five, spread out over the course of six weeks. The time was structured starting with warm-ups followed by a variety of locomotor exercises that used isolated movements through playful games and dance instruction. They also learned choreography to familiar tunes like “I’m A Little Teapot” and “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”. The instructor noted that students were particularly successful with the music interpretation activities wherein they were asked to respond to the music they hear using physical movements.

Carly noted that some of the students, particularly the young ones in the class, really had trouble coordinating their body with their mind and with others in the space. Students struggling to will their body to move in isolation exercises were more likely to disengage or get “bored” quickly, in comparison to others that had more isolated control over their limbs. However, by the end of the six weeks, Carly saw improvement in these students. “Not only could they name the locomotor and non-locomotor movements I had taught them,” she wrote, “they could also demonstrate them, and, when appropriate, they could do so with different parts of their bodies.” This class was as much about skill-building as it was about freedom of expression, but both worked together as the creative freedom seemed to be more satisfying for students after having built locomotor skills throughout the program.

The instructor also found that the movement enabled students to communicate across language barriers. “There were also a lot of students whose first language was not English. Although this sometimes caused a bit of a communication barrier, it did not stop the students from showing me, using movement, that they understood the choreography after seeing it demonstrated.” The teachers noted a developing bond with their students through the class and were excited about bringing it back next year.