Francine Jennings | May 2017
Body-Based Activities for the End of the Year
As a professor of arts integration, I have the distinct honor of traveling around the country to provide instruction to some of the most talented and creative teachers imaginable! Although I teach courses encompassing all arts modalities, my very favorite course is dedicated completely to the areas of creative movement and dance. Having taught this dynamic course for over 15 years, I have managed to craft numerous “body-based” physical classroom activities specifically for teachers to incorporate into their classrooms — activities relevant to practically every possible topic that a K-12 educator might encounter. So, what do my teachers request the most during the months of May and June? — you guessed it! — strategies for incorporating creative movement and dance into the classroom at the end of the year.
h1 style=”font-size: 30px;”Time to Wiggle with Creative Movement
That being said, I’ve selected a description of four fun-filled movement-based activities that you may want to share with your students as you approach the end of the school year. Not only will these creative movement activities enhance excitement about past achievements and accomplishments, they will also offer a positive and constructive vehicle for generous amounts of moving and shaking!
Victory Walks (K-8)
Anyone want to go for a walk? Well, how about going on a very special walk called a victory walk? Walking is invigorating within itself, but when you add pride, accomplishment, joy, and the end of school to the equation, walking becomes a victorious occasion! I did this activity numerous times with my middle school students after everyone had received “end of year” class awards and believe me, it’s a real winner!
To get started, discuss the word victory with your students and have them to share their own experiences with victory. Afterwards, lead them into reflecting upon how completing another school year is an example of victory. While providing some of your own experiences, explain that people often walk the way they feel. Offer a few examples of your own reactions to victory by demonstrating your normal way of walking vs. your victorious way of walking. Be sure to explain that no two victory walks look alike. Afterwards, allow the students to explore their own victory walks. Before putting their walks on display, invite the students to select music, beats, sounds, or props that might accompany their walks. When everyone’s ready, let the victory walks begin!
Lip Sync Celebrations (K-12)
Who doesn’t like to Lip Sync? Lip syncing is an incredible way for kids to use natural movement, creative movement, and dance to interpret their favorite songs. After showing students some examples of people performing lip syncs, explain to them that the end of the school year signifies a time to celebrate the many things they have studied, learned, and achieved! Then, assign them to choose one of their favorite celebratory songs. Something like “Celebrate Good Times” by Kool and the Gang is an intergenerational celebration song and could be used as an example.
Once they’ve selected their songs, ask students to practice how they want to interpret the songs to entertain their class members. Encourage them to use costumes and props, but first and foremost, emphasize that body language is one of the key ingredients in a great lip sync performance. When the magical moment for performances arrives, encourage students to fill the air with laughter, cheers, and applause! Why? Because it’s a CELEBRATION!
Embodied 5 Line Storytelling (K-12)
I’m sure you may have heard the song, It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday! Well, this song title encompasses the mixed emotions so many students feel as they approach the end of school year, so why not sweeten their good-byes a little with 5 line storytelling? For starters, ask students to imagine that they are famous dramatic storytellers who bring their stories to life through exaggerated gestures and movements. To give them some ideas, you may want to show them one or two clips of professional storytellers who focus heavily on body movements.
Instruct students that they will be telling a 5 line story about something awesome that took place during the school year. Prompts such as “OMG, I couldn’t believe it when”, “Does anybody else remember when?”, or “I’m so glad I’ll never have to do this again” can be used as hooks to stimulate thinking. Remind the kids that the story should be only 5 lines long, that they must use their bodies to accompany their words, and finally to have fun! After a bit of practice, it’ll be time to take it to the stage and let the stories begin!
Farewell Tableaux (K-12)
Tableau, the depiction of a motionless scene or story, is a great way for students to use their bodies to demonstrate their feelings about the end of the school year! It’s also an outstanding vehicle for students to share their plans for the summer! To begin this activity, show students examples of tableau variations, then give them time to create scenes in small groups. As students are working out details of their group’s tableaux, remind them to incorporate elements that will enhance their end products. Such elements might include the following: the use of low, medium, and high body levels to add variety, the incorporation of appropriate facial expressions to increase authenticity, and the infusion of different layers of focus (looking right, left, up, down, etc.) to bring about intensity and depth.
To make their tableaux even more flavorful, you might allow one person in each group to incorporate a small, measured movement. For example, if you have a student who appears to be swinging a bat, the student might swing the bat forwards and backwards, very slowly within a 5 second time frame every 10-15 seconds. After each 10-15 second movement, the student would return to a motionless position. Once students have created and presented their group tableaux, invite the rest of the class to guess what the scenes depict and of course, you’ve got to take photos for keepsakes!
I’ve been both humbled and excited at hearing my teachers’ reactions to the creative movement activities above and others like them. Some teachers have boasted that even some of their most reluctant students showed signs of enjoying the activities and actively participated. Others have reported that the physical classroom activities helped students to appreciate the hard work their students did during the school year, but the comment I have heard most frequently was “My kids really loved being able to use their bodies!”