After learning about a range of dance styles, children watch the video excerpt Dance Creation | PINKALICIOUS & PETERRIFIC™ from an episode called Pinkabotta & Peterbotta. In the video, Pinkalicious™ and Peterrific™ make up a robot dance. After trying out a similar robot dance, children use their imagination and creative movements to imitate animals, objects, and nature. By selecting a few key identifying movements that represents their animal, object, or natural phenomenon, children create a "dance phrase"-a repeatable pattern of movements. They then perform their dance in a class recital.
See Get Smart with the Arts! for more information about how dance and the arts can enhance children's cognitive, physical, social, emotional, and academic skills.
Two or more class periods
- Students will learn about dance movements and styles.
- Students will use creative movements to represent animals, objects, and nature.
- Students will present their own dance creation.
Prep for Teachers
Children are instinctive dancers. They wiggle, sway, and respond to music and rhythms from the time they are infants. As children grow, they master increasingly complex movements: crawling, walking, jumping, hopping, skipping, standing on tiptoes, balancing on one foot, and so on. Whether movements are free form or prescribed (for example, the motions to familiar songs such as “I’m a Little Teapot” or “Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”), children find movement joyful.
Developing and practicing both gross motor and fine motor skills are important aspects of children’s learning. Physical explorations, including dance, sports, and everyday activities, like walking and running, are essential for children’s growth. Not only does regular exercise help keep children healthy, it allows them to be more attentive and focused when they need to sit still. Keeping active can relieve stress, provide opportunities to make friends, and improve confidence and self-esteem. Dance is also a way for children to creatively express feelings and moods, imitate what they observe in the world around them, and tell stories informed by both fantasy worlds and their real lives.
You will need sufficient space for children to try out their dances. You may also want to gather pictures or videos of animals and objects that you’ll be asking children to imitate.
You may want to extend this lesson throughout the week, giving children frequent opportunities to practice their dance moves.
- Books about dance and dancers to display (see Recommended Reading List)
- Pictures of animals and objects for children to imitate (optional)
- Provide a brief introduction to the concept of “dance.” Ask children to volunteer their ideas about what dance is (and isn’t). What kinds of movements make up a dance? What kinds of dances have they seen, in person or on TV? What kinds of dances do they like to do? Jot down children’s ideas on the board.
- Develop a class definition of dance, such as: a series of movements that follow certain steps or that go with the rhythm and speed of a piece of music. You may also want to introduce the words choreography and choreographer with their definitions.
- Introduce the idea that dance has been with us for a long, long time. Point out that different cultures have developed a range of dance styles. Use books from the Recommended Reading List to share ideas and vocabulary about dance. You may also want to show videos from the Dance Arts Toolkit resources on PBS LearningMedia.
- You may want to create a Word Wall with dance-related styles and terms, including ballet, jazz, hip-hop, tap, ballroom, salsa, and so on.
1. Before watching the video excerpt
- Tell children that they are going to watch a video, Dance Creation | PINKALICIOUS & PETERRIFIC™. Explain that Pinkalicious is a girl who loves to use her imagination to do all kinds of art activities, including dance. Her brother, Peterrific, often joins in the fun. In this episode, Pinkalicious and her brother have made a robot, which they've named Robotta.
2. While watching the video excerpt
- Ask students to watch how Pinkalicious and Peterrific imitate Robotta to make up their robot dance.
3. After watching the video excerpt
- Talk about the video excerpt. Check for understanding by asking students to describe what happened. Correct any misunderstandings.
- What were some of the ways that Pinkalicious and Peterrific imitated the way Robotta moved? Did they look like robots when they danced?
4. Activity: I Want to Move Like a Robot
- Watch the video excerpt again. Point out some of the moves that Pinkalicious and Peterrific do. Invite children to follow along with the characters as Pinkalicious sings "I Want to Move Like a Robot." (You may want to remind children to keep a safe distance from others and confine their dancing to whatever individual space is available.)
- Have students practice moving like robots. Hold a "Robot Parade" as children march around the room pretending to be machines. Congratulate them on their dance moves!
5. Activity: Imitation Dance
- Hold a brainstorm session as children think up other things they can imitate through dance. Help them categorize their ideas as you list them on the board. Examples might include: household items (pop-up toasters); vehicles (cars, airplanes, windshield wipers); animals (mammals, insects, fish); natural phenomena (wind, rain, lightning).
- Model a sample dance, such as fluttering your arms up and down and pecking like a bird, or crouching down and jumping up like a slice of bread in a toaster.
- Organize children into small groups and assign a category to each group. Have children spend a few minutes exploring ways to imitate the items in their category. Give them time to practice their dance, encouraging them to repeat the movements they have chosen.
- Invite each group to come to the front of the room and perform their imitation dance. Have the rest of the class guess what they are mimicking.
- Applaud each performance. Tell students they have each created a special dance!
- Send home the essay Get Smart with the Arts! so that families can support what children are learning. If you have a class website or newsletter, you may want to share with families what you've been doing and talking about in class. Encourage them to continue the conversation at home.
- Send home the Dance Party! handout. Remind children to do some of the dances with their families. Invite children to share what they did at home and show off some of their new moves!
Invite the school principal and/or another class to come and watch the class perform their dances. You may want to ask the music teacher, a local musician, or a staff member who plays an instrument to accompany the dances with music.