Tips for Teaching Creative Movement

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Teaching Creative Movement

Teach ballet
Tracy Wicklund

If you are interested in enrolling your toddler in a formal dance class, the class will most likely be referred to as a creative movement, or pre-ballet class. Most dance instructors require children to be at least three years old before attending dance classes, even though a three-year-old will not be taught formal dance techniques or skills. Instead, a dance class of three-year-olds would probably focus on creative movement and basic body control.

In a creative movement class, children are introduced to beginning dance steps in a fun, recreational way. Toddlers and young children love moving to music. Creative movement is a fun way to explore body movement through music. Creative movement also helps children develop physical skills that will be used later in formal ballet classes.

Creative movement involves the use of body actions to communicate certain actions, emotions, and feelings. By following a teacher's instructions, a child can develop physical skills as well as encourage the use of imagination.

If you're not quite ready to enroll your child in a creative movement class, try leading her through a series of creative movement activities. If you want your child to take it seriously, try allowing her to slip on a pair of tights and a leotard (even a one-piece bathing suit will work, like the pink one shown above.) Boys might enjoy changing into a pair of shorts and a t-shirt with socks or even ballet slippers. Find an open space and set up a source for music. Try a few of the following activities, or be creative and think of some fun ideas of your own!

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Jump in Puddles

Jump in puddles
Tracy Wicklund

Kids love water. What child can resist the urge of jumping in a puddle on a rainy day?

  • Puddle Props: Look around your house for a couple of items to use a puddle props. Blue vinyl place mats would work great, or even blue construction paper. If you can, cut out puddle shapes, cutting large scallops with a scissor. Lay the puddles on the floor, taping them down if necessary.
  • Splish-Splash Music: The right music can really get your child moving. Try to find a song about water, rain, or bath time.
  • Jumping: Teach your child how to jump: Stand with your feet together. Bend your knees, with your arms down by your sides. Spring into the air and land on top of your puddle with both feet.

Learning how to jump is a major milestone. Your child may not be able to take off and land on two feet, but this exercise will inspire a lot of great practice.

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Have a Ball!

Ball fun
Tracy Wicklund

Balls of all sizes are fun to play with. Use your imagination to think of ball games to help your child develop major muscle groups as well as fine motor skills.

  • Small Ball Activities: From tiny bouncy balls to soft baseballs, small balls are sure to bring a smile to your child's face as you pass them back and forth. Pretend the tiny balls are gumballs and scatter them across the floor for your child to quickly gather.
  • Medium Ball Activities: Lightweight playground balls and kick balls are fun for catching as well as kicking. Super-lightweight fun balls, as pictured, are great tools for teaching ballet arm positions. Ask your child to wrap her arms around the ball for a big bear hug. Tell her that the shape she is making with her arms is the first position in ballet.
  • Large Ball Activities: If you own a large exercise ball, allow your child to roll around on it. Pretend the ball is a giant boulder and have him roll it around the mountain (or piece of furniture in the room.)
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Follow the Leader

Follow the leader
Tracy Wicklund

A perennial favorite, a simple game of follow-the-leader will teach your child the basic structure of a ballet class: following a leader. Grab a long scarf, belt, or any lightweight piece of material and tell your child to hold on and follow behind. Lead your child around the room in different ways: hopping, skipping, or on tippy toes (as shown above.)