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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Teacher of the Month- Miss Zoe

Each month, Dance Exploration elects a Sparkling Teacher to showcase as our Teacher of the Month! These teachers exhibit great passion to their art, and strive to provide the best in quality dance classes for our students!

Our Teacher of the Month for October is Miss Zoe! Take a moment to read our interview with Miss Zoe:

1) How do you ensure that you Sparkle each day as a teacher?
I ensure that I Sparkle each day as a teacher by always looking for self improvement. Part of a career that sparkles is having ambitions and knowledge. Every day I look to achieve my goals and I love spending time on my own educating myself in teaching and dance.
2) What do you love about being a Dance Exploration teacher?
My favorite thing about being a Dance Exploration teacher is being able to provide kids a dance education by going around to different schools. I love that I can introduce dance into children’s lives and hopefully I can pass on my passion for dance to my students.
3) What is a fun activity you do each class that the kids love?
For my hip hop classes, most weeks I usually have them do a dance circle where each student gets to dance in the middle of it. Everyone loves it because they can show of their dance moves and add their own personality to it.
4) If you could give dance teachers a bit of advice for a smooth class, what would it be?
I think for a smooth class, it is very important to maintain a positive and calm attitude. I find that doing so will help create a better controlled environment.
Miss Zoe demonstrates a breakdance move at her Hip Hop class at High Plains Elementary.

Miss Zoe demonstrates a breakdance move at her Hip Hop class at High Plains Elementary.

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.

Teacher Tip of the Week: Using Placement Markers for Classroom Management

Miss Jessica uses scarves during story time and warm ups so children have a spot to sit.

Miss Jessica uses scarves during story time and warm ups so children have a spot to sit.

We’ve all had those classes: Walk in, ready to teach and the kids are running around the room like crazy people! As a new teacher, we ask politely to listen and stop running. One, two…TEN times. Finally our pleading may result to screaming, frustration and unnecessary discipline. Here’s a simple, and easy trick to help children know their spots and where they need to be at all times during dance class.

In classes, especially preschool aged, it’s helpful to use “markers” or “spots” in class to help children know where to stand, sit, or be while waiting for instructions. For warm ups, this is as simple as a mat the kids can stand on. Across the floor, it can be differentiated between two points. “Today we are going to skip from the cat to the unicorn!” (we like using stuffed animals but you can also use cones, markers, hoola hoops, etc). When it’s time for choreography, using Masking Tape (which can easily be removed) with a sticker on it, will help kids stand in their correct places! Try this teacher Tip of the Week! Let us know how you liked it!

Dancers in our City of Edgewater classes, are spread out equally in a circle when they have a spot to stand on.  Photo: Deanna Trevizo

Dancers in our City of Edgewater classes, are spread out equally in a circle when they have a spot to stand on.
Photo: Deanna Trevizo

What is SPARKLE?

Dance Exploration, LLC has quickly grown to become Colorado’s Premier dance and performing arts program for children! We have created a unique management principle called #SPARKLE
Here’s a little about how #SPARKLE works

SPARKLE

S is for Systems
Dance Exploration has created a unique system of policies, procedures, training, continued education and staff evaluations to ensure the success of all of our Staff Members!

P is for Pledge
Dance Exploration management pledges to readily available for all Staff Members. To answer questions, solve problems, and lend a helping hand.

A is for Ambitions
Dance Exploration is extremely goal oriented. Therefore we set attainable goals for our staff members and travel along every step of the way.

R is for Regiments
We believe in team work! We have a moto that our Staff isn’t working for us, but rather working with us! Join us in our common goal!

K is for Knowledge
Dance Exploration believes in continued education and training so we can have the best Dance Educators in the industry!

L is for Leadership
We try to create independent leaders in every one of our Staff Members with frequent evaluations and feedback to always foster improvement.

E is for Express
As in Express Yourself! We are an open door to communication! We know two heads are better than one and five heads are better than two!

Do you want to #SPARKLE too?
Apply for a great Dance Exploration Career on our Career Page