Miss Zoe knows what it takes to be #PURPLE

IMG_7588What has been your favorite Dance Exploration School to Teach at? Why?
My favorite school to teach at is Crestmoor Early Learning Center. Not only are the group of girls adorable, but they are always keeping me on my toes 🙂
If you met someone on the street that never heard of Dance Exploration, what would you tell them about our company? I usually explain to people that Dance Exploration is an enrichment program that specializes in dance. I also tell people what makes us unique is that our goal is to get affordable dance into as many schools as possible so that as many children as possible can have the chance to learn the wonderful art. We also use dance as a fun learning tool by incorporating day to day/academic themes into our curriculum.
When you aren’t teaching and working with Dance Exploration, what are you doing? When I’m not working with Dance Exploration, I spend my own time practicing ballet, tap, and jazz as well as working as a Guest Experience Captain at Buffalo Wild Wings.

Which letter in the SPARKLE system is most beneficial to you? Why? (Systems, Pledges, Ambitions, Regiments, Knowledge, Leadership, Expressions) Ambitions, in my opinion, are the most beneficial to me because my goals are what keeps me motivated. My hopes and dreams are the reasons why I keep challenging myself to become a better teacher/dancer/person in general.

Miss Zoe is our current teacher of the month! She shows everyday how to be #PURPLE by sharing her Passion, Unique Talents, Reliability, Professionalism, Love of Kids and Educated knowledge of dance techniques and our ‘Dance to Learn!’™ Curriculum.

‘Dance to Learn!’™ Dance Ambassador Program

SLIDE SHOW 5The goal of the ‘Dance to Learn!’™ Dance Ambassador program is to train and certify Dance Professionals in the ‘Dance to Learn!’™ Curriculum. In development since 2009, Dance Exploration, LLC’s ‘Dance to Learn!’™ Curriculum has been taught to children in preschool and elementary schools across Colorado! When founded originally, it combined a ‘Recipe for Success’ which used the following ingredients to compose of the classes:

Dance Principles:
1 Part Warm Ups
1 Part Across/Around the Floor
1 Part Center Activity
1 Part Choreography

School Principles:
Combine any one or Combo:
Math/Numbers
Science
Reading/Writing
Spelling
History
Art

Development Skills:
Include any and all:
Cognitive Skills
Social Skills
Motor Skills
Language Skills

These combinations included a dance class that was designed to teach the whole child.

5 METHODS OF DANCE

Since 2009 the ‘Dance to Learn!’™ Curriculum has been developed and now includes the 5 Methods of Dance™ these methods include:

‘Dance to Learn!’™- teaching the child in a way that fosters creative thinking, problem solving and interacting in the world with dance and movement.

‘Dance to Accept!’™- teaching children about social and economic differences and how to embrace the unique talents and skills of others through dance and movement.

‘Dance to Discover!’™- helping children discover their world through dance principles. Discovery can be any concept that children would learn whether in school or just a life concept.

‘Dance to Express!’™- helping children find their individual passion. Many children have a hard time communicating or sharing their problems or thoughts, dance allows another avenue for this expression.

‘Dance to Move!’™- movement through dance can teach balance, coordination, flexibility, agility and strength. Dance also encourages and active and healthy lifestyle.

These five methods have been designed with the whole child in mind and are based on the different stages of childhood development: Cognition, language and speech development, social skills, and motor development. Our new recipe for success is the perfect combination to immprove Dance Education in schools.

According to the National Dance Education Organization 57% of children do NOT have access to dance training in schools! Of the 43% who do, only 7% of this training is offered by a teacher who is trained or specialized in dance!! (http://www.ndeo.org/content.aspx?page_id=22&club_id=893257&module_id=55774)

Think about that! Would you want your child to learn how to drive by a person who doesn’t have a driver’s license of their own? Would you want your child to learn how to tumble and flip by a person who never trained in gymnastics? What about trusting a person who didn’t train in proper ballet technique before teaching your child how to dance in pointe shoes? Dance in all forms takes years to develop proper technique and training! Just like professional football players train for years, so do our dancers and dance teachers! Why do more schools not entrust the teaching of dance to dance professionals? It’s clearly a topic that requires more education, as well as more dance professionals who are open and willing to enter the schools to provide that education!

With the ‘Dance to Learn!’™ Dance Ambassador program, our Ambassadors will receive a teaching certification on the ‘Dance to Learn!’™ curriculum and the 5 Methods that formulate that Curriculum. They will be authorized to teach the Curriculum for three years to children in schools in their state of residence! Our Dance Ambassador program is not made available to dance studios where dance is already taught on a professional level by dance professionals. This program is designed specifically for school children who don’t have access to or cannot afford professional dance education. With the Dance Ambassador program, we can also ensure that the dance training provided to children in our schools also includes all the benefits that dance provides by including the 5 Methods of Dance designed specifically around the stages of childhood development!

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With the ‘Dance to Learn!’™ Curriculum website, our Dance Ambassadors will also receive a three year dance curriculum subscription to continued education and development in the ‘Dance to Learn!’™ Curriculum to ensure that children can continue to receive the best in dance education!

Can you help us improve the statistics for the quality of dance education provided to our youth in schools nationwide? Make a pledge today and help us on our mission!

Learn how to apply to become a ‘Dance to Learn!’™ Independent Dance Ambassador!

Miss Meg #Sparkles!

It’s no surprise Miss Meg is the teacher of the month this month! She’s sassy, spunky and Sparkly! She knows how to captivate a room, and teaches really fun dances to boot!
We asked her a couple questions about teaching and working with Dance Exploration.
In the #PURPLE acronym which letter means the most to you and why? (Passionate, Uniquely Talented, Reliable, Professional, Love Kids, Educated)?
For the acronym #PURPLE the letter that means the most to me is Passionate. I feel that dance is a huge part of who I am as an individual. I am extremely passionate when the music starts to play and the world fades away, and all that is left is a complete sense of self. I hope that in my career as a dance teacher that I can build this self confidence in my students so that they become just as passionate as I am about dance.
What’s your favorite teaching memory with Dance Exploration? Why?
My favorite teaching memory with Dance Exploration is when my students preformed at the Nuggets Game back in November. Not only was it super cool to be behind the scenes at the Pepsi center and on the court with over 100 people watching. But it was so fulfilling to see the girls faces light up when they preformed in front of that big of an audience. The little ones were mesmerized by the jumbo-trons, but still confident enough to hit all their choreography! I look forward to doing more events like that in the future.
If you could share one tip for other dance teachers, what would it be?
My tip for dance teachers is to be the type of teacher that your students need. That means putting aside things that happened outside dance class, and coming in to class prepared to be energetic and optimistic about the class. Moreover, this can sometimes mean putting away your love for the students and desire for them to like you, in order to be firm in demanding their respect. All in all, a good dance teacher can always read their students needs and adjust their curriculum and tone to give the best dance class possible.
We’ve noticed that you wear lots and lots and lots of Sparkly clothes and shoes. Is there one item in your wardrobe that sparkles and shines above the rest?

My favorite Sparkly item in my closet is my formal dress. It’s a white sequences dress with a silver tiger pattern. Although this one can’t be worn to class, it is my favorite because when I put it on I feel fierce like a tiger and confident! This dress makes me feel like I outshine the rest!

Teacher Tools: Inside Miss Jessica’s Teaching Bag!

We’ve had a blast teaching Frozen themed dance classes to the preschoolers around the Denver metro area for the month of January! Our stuffed Olaf visited each and every preschool this month and received warm hugs all around. The children have loved this theme, and can connect so easily with the story and the characters. Sadly, as the month of January comes to a close, so must we also put Olaf and his friends away for now, until next year…or at least until our Princess Fairy Tale Dance Camps happening this summer! It’s been a joy watching our dancers build their very own snowmen, put Olaf together in silly ways, collect ice for the city, visit the trolls to save Anna and dance their way through frozen obstacle courses to share an act of true love to unthaw a frozen heart. We will definitely be missing January!

It takes a lot of creativity and PROPS to put on a successful class with a theme as popular and well known as Frozen. The props that we choose must be beneficial not only to the instructor, but also to the kids and should add to the overall class not deter or distract. It should also make sense! The props should be based on the theme of the class and also serve a purpose.

For the first time, we are diving into our Dance Educators’ bags to see exactly what they need to put on an incredible ‘Dance to Learn!’™ class. We will start with our Director, Miss Jessica!

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1) Elsa Bag
I saw these at Target. I bought three of them. Miss Meg is now the proud owner of one, which she won at our last Staff meeting. I still have the other one saved for groceries, or lunches, or if my current teaching bag fills up!

2) Frozen Matching Game
I also found this at Target. We used the cards to find partners when dancing with a friend. We also played a fun game of pick a card. Whoever was on the card, the kids had to dance out that character.

3) Frozen Books
For our Terpsichore Literacy Program™ we read some short, but fun, Frozen stories. Then we danced and moved out the stories. This month we read “Summer Blast” and “Warm Hugs!”

4) Paper Hands
I have not yet used these. I bought them for an across the floor exercise and have yet to figure out how to incorporate them. I have some fun ideas  on how to incorporate these, it’s now just a matter of implementing a fun, creative and educational dance combo that also compliments our theme.

5) Stuffed Olaf
Our guest of honor this month! Olaf was given to me for Christmas by Miss Nancy. He’s now traveled with me to each and every preschool. He’s seen almost the entire city of Denver in one short month!

6) Princess Card Games
I’m using these for our February theme. They have princesses printed on them. We’re creating some fun movement games with these. They are also a great way to help us find partners when dancing with a friend.

7) Stickers
As a dance teacher, you can’t ever have too many stickers. I have Frozen, Olaf, Princess and Bugs Bunny themed stickers. A little something for everyone.

8) Masking Tape and Spot Stickers
This is great for spatial awareness. Kids, especially preschoolers, have a very small concept space, so asking them to stagger a line is pretty useless and just wastes valuable class time. So I tell them where to stand! I put the masking tape on the floor and the stickers on top, so the dancers always know where their spot is. This improves their overall learning  since they have more room to dance in space and it creates a safe environment  as spatial issues are resolved by assigning a “spot.”

8) Hearts
I can’t say too much about these, as they are part of our February theme. Can you guess what our theme is about???

9) Snowman Parts
We built snowmen blindfolded to see how he would come out. Just like Olaf, our Snowman often times didn’t turn out quite “right.”

That’s a lot to carry around in one bag! Check into future blogs for more of our fabulous dance teacher’s and their teaching bags!

Adventures with Olaf!

Dance Exploration’s January 2015 theme for our Preschool aged Creative Dance and Pre-Ballet Classes is ‘Winter!’

What better kid-friendly and, very popular, character to help us with this concept, than with Olaf! Everyone knows Olaf! He’s a silly snowman who likes ‘Warm Hugs!’ and dreams about living in summer.

Here are some fun Snowman games inspired by Olaf that you can play in your Preschool Aged Dance classes!

Build a Snowman!

This game was inspired by the following Dancing Olaf Video created by Disney Animation Studios:

What you will need:

Construction Paper
Scissors
Black Sharpie

Cut out the different parts of your snowman (ours had 9 pieces total):

2  Small Circles (Feet)
1 Large Circle (Bottom)
1 Medium Circle (Middle)
1 Small Circle (Head)
2 Arm Pieces
1 Carrot Nose
1 Head Piece (hat or hair)

Our Snowman looks like this:

Olaf game

Have the kids help you build the snowman piece by piece so they know how he’s supposed to go together.

Now it gets harder. They must build their snowman blindfolded!

First blindfold each child. Ask them how many spins they want to do (no more than 5) After they’ve done their spins have them put their snowman piece down.

After all the kids have had a turn, your snowman may end up looking more like this:

IMG_5789But it’s okay! It’s all fun and games…and the kids will LOVE it!

olaf game 2

Snow Man Prints in the Snow!

Fun for any preschool aged hip hop class!

Pretend that each dance move you do, is to make a print in the snow!

Round 1: Hand Prints
Take a few steps forward and jump down and touch the ground to get your hands in the snow!

Round 2: Snowman Foot Prints
Take a few steps forward, jump down and do a big spin on your bum. Jump up  and do it again!

Round 3: Skid Marks
Take a few steps forward. Bend down with your hand behind you, shoot both legs out and pull them back in. Miss Zoe demonstrates below:

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Round 4: Make a circle
After successfully making your ‘skid marks’ in the snow, next you must cover your tracks by making a big circle! Miss Stephanie’s student demonstrates in her preschool hip hop class:

Dance Exploration is a mobile after school dance and performing arts program for kids, traveling into preschools and elementary schools in the Denver Metro Area! Our ‘Dance to Learn!’™ Curriculum is enriching the lives of children through out Colorado! Book a free trial at your school! Olaf can’t wait to dance with you either!

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Celebrating going Back to School in Dance Class

We’ve had a great start to our Back to School Dance Classes for the 2014/2015 school year! We couldn’t be happier with all that our children are learning and with an upcoming Nuggets performance, we will be able to share their progress with a live audience!

This year, in our preschool classes, we have been creating a monthly theme of which to base our weekly curriculum and song choices!

Our September theme was ‘Back to School!’
Our kids enjoyed some fun activities based entirely on going back to school! We are going to share some of the fun activities that the kids learned during the month of September. You are more than welcome to try any of these in your dance classes! The next time you’re looking for a ‘Back to School!’ dance game or activity for your little ones, give any of these a try! Leave us a comment and let us know how you like it!

Warm Up Activity: Pack a Lunch
Sitting in a Straddle position go around the circle and ask each child individually what they want for lunch.

Jimmy wants a sandwich- Reach towards your right foot. Grab a sandwich and put it in your box (drum the floor in the center of your legs).
Sally wants an apple- Reach towards your left foot. Grab an apple and put it in your box (drum the floor in the center of your legs).

Boys at the Montessori Children's House of Denver pack up their lunches during warm ups in dance class.

Boys at the Montessori Children’s House of Denver pack up their lunches during warm ups in dance class.

When all the kids had a turn, eat your lunch up. Starting towards your right foot, bend forward and across the floor to the left foot. Ask, “Who still has food left? Raise your hand!” Then start from the left foot, bend forward and across the floor to the right foot. Be sure to make your “Nom, Nom, Nom!” noises!

Around the Room Activity: Wheels on the Bus
Standing in the middle of the room in the circle sing, ‘The Wheels on the Bus go ‘Round and ‘Round!’

March around the circle and add a different movement to each verse.

The Wheels on the bus go ’round and ’round: March while circling your arms to the right and to the left

The Wipers on the bus go swish swish swish: March while doing swishing arms above your head

Students at BMH-BJ demonstrate how they march in a circle during 'The Wheels on the Bus!' activity.

Students at BMH-BJ demonstrate how they march in a circle during ‘The Wheels on the Bus!’ activity.

The horn on the bus goes beep, beep, beep: Bend your knees and bounce each time the horn goes beep

The lights on the bus go on and off: When the lights are on do a big jump with arms out. When the lights go off jump in and get little.

The driver on the bus says ‘Sit, Sit, Sit’: Make a pointing finger and bounce. Tell a friend to sit, sit sit.

When you’ve done it a few times, have the kids sing and dance the song on their own!
Across the Floor Activity: Late for School Obstacle Course!

Put together a fun, ‘Late to School!’ Obstacle Course.

Clear the room and put down items in a pathway that the child must jump, climb, or crawl through.

For example: Mats on the floor can be rocks the child must hop scotch on.
Jump ropes could be stairs that they have to leap down. Hula Hoops can be puddles they must jump in.
They need to crawl through a tunnel to get to their spot on the bus.

A student at the Primrose School climbs through an Obstacle Course.

A student at the Primrose School climbs through an Obstacle Course.

Try these fun ‘Back to School!’ Games in your class! Let us know how like them 😀

Sparkling Teacher of the Month: Miss Meg

Congratulations to Miss Meg! She was awarded our first Teacher of the Month award for the 2014/2015 school year! She had a wonderful month of September!
meg oneill
1) How do you ensure that you Sparkle each day as a teacher?
As a teacher I make sure that I SPARKLE each day by always coming to class with confidence and a plan! I like to make sure that each of my students are getting my complete attention so that they can become the best dancers they can be! I also like to make sure I’m always in communication with the parents, my fellow teachers, and my director so that our operation at Dance Exploration is running smoothly.
2) What do you love about being a Dance Exploration teacher?
I absolutely love being a Dance Exploration teacher because I get to see the excited faces of my students each day when they feel like they have finally gotten down a move or dance. It’s amazing how much dance can build a child’s confidence and I love leading by example.
3) What is a fun activity you do each class that the kids love?
My student’s favorite fun activity we do is Little Sally Walker because each student gets the opportunity to show off their own personal style of dance, while also teaching another student how to do the move. I believe this is important because it builds strong leaders and acceptance of all personalities in a classroom.
4) If you could give dance teachers a bit of advice for a smooth class, what would it be?
I’d advise all teachers to come in with a plan. Kids especially can tell when you are not prepared and will take advantage of the time you are trying to “think on your feet” by fooling around and becoming distracted. I always try to prepare for my classes the week before so that I utilize all my time to the fullest.