Social Studies Learning Through Dance

Millman_PS29K_Dance_MaeganKeller_BAC04This fall, through BAC Arts in Education first graders at PS 29K in Cobble Hill choreographed dances to reinforce their social studies learning about community and family with teaching artist Maegan Keller.  Creative dance principles such as self and general space, size, level, direction, speed, dynamics, relationships, shapes, and locomotor/nonlocomotor movement were integrated with the social studies curriculum.

As they learned about communication, students explored methods of communicating without words using their bodies through exercises such as “mirroring” in which students follow their partner’s movements while keeping eye contact and “body talk” in which students act and react to a partner by creating shapes with their bodies. After discussing the basic elements of a verbal conversation, the students created “conversations” using their bodies: one student would create a shape while the other student watched, waited for stillness, and then responded with another unique shape that related to their partner. This activity required students to watch (listen), think and respond using only their body language.

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This program, supported by New York State Assemblymember Joan Millman through the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, has also introduced students to dance vocabulary and techniques, building a foundation for future dance learning. Students shared their dances as well as some of the exercises they learned during culminating presentations on December 10 and 11, 2013, to an auditorium of excited peers, teachers and parents.

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