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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The Right Way to Play Freeze Dance in the Classroom

I'm going to go ahead and claim it: I am the master of freeze dance in the classroom. After running the game with my students from preschool through 9th grade over many years of teaching, I have figured out what rules and procedures help the game run most smoothly and keep everyone having the most fun. Ready to learn all the tricks of the trade?

The biggest key to success is setting up the rules before you start. Here are the rules I always tell students when we play freeze dance / musical statues:
  1. When the music is playing you dance. When the music stops you freeze. The last one moving is out of the game and must go to a designated area.
  2. Throughout the game, whether the music is on or off, whether you are out or still playing, your voice must be off. It's not fair if someone else can't hear the music stopping because of your noise.
  3. For your movement to count as "dancing" you must move your feet and only your feet may touch the floor. Otherwise it's too easy to stop and start.
  4. You cannot touch any other person or thing, and you must stay in your spot- you cannot move around the room while you are dancing. It's not safe.
  5. If you forget any of the rules above, you will be out in addition to whomever is the last to stop moving- there can be multiple people out in one round.
  6. I am the Almighty Judge. You may not argue with the Almighty Judge, and you may not attempt to become a judge yourself. Any attempts to usurp or argue with Almighty Judge will result in banishment.
Once the rules are established the rest is a matter of holding students to those rules. I have found the best way to see a room full of dancing children simultaneously is to look at the middle of the room and pay attention to my peripheral vision. Make sure to position yourself in a place where you can control the music and see every player at the same time.

Besides the rules above, there are a few other things I do without telling the students that help prevent tantrums:
  1. I don't tell them in advance, but the first round is always a "practice round". I keep track of everyone who is breaking the rules- usually the shy kids who aren't moving, and the excited ones who are talking or laughing- and when I stop the music the first time I call out all the people who would have been out if it was the real deal. I tell them this is their warning and then remind them that from now on, if I call their name, they are out.
  2. I make the first *actual* round of dancing the longest- I don't want the first person to be out after just a few seconds! And the second round is always the shortest, so that the first person isn't out on their own for very long. The rest of the rounds I keep relatively short, but varying the length of course.
  3. After the first few rounds, if the students aren't too rowdy, I actually encourage those that are out to dance silently in their seats while they watch. It allows them to continue enjoying the music instead of feeling like they're missing out. It's important to keep them seated though, so you don't get confused while you're judging!
  4. There are always a handful of students who figure out ways to "dance" with the least movement possible. I allow anything (as long as they're moving their feet) for the first few rounds, but after that I'll start pressuring them into changing up their moves by telling them not to be "boring". If they continue to barely move, I'll sometimes tell them that if they don't start moving more I'll decide they're out.
  5. I keep a CD with lots of upbeat dance songs (find some of my favorites here) in my sound system at all times for this purpose. I like to change the song each round rather than playing and pausing the same one over and over- different students are more comfortable dancing with different types of music so I try to include a variety.
  6. I model "laughing it off" for students- if they lose their balance I will wink at them, sigh, or otherwise try to make light of the situation in a fun way, like "oops, guess that just happened" as I call their name. I find that helps, especially for those that tend to have trouble with losing, to "save face" in front of their peers.
Now that you know all of my top-secret strategies for running Freeze Dance successfully in the classroom, it's time to get dancing! Be sure to check out the link above for some modern, upbeat music you can use in class for games like this. 

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  1. thanks for sharing. My classroom was always a chaos when I did the freeze dance - they can always find some ways to break the rules...! (unbelievable!)

    1. So true, when I first started teaching it was always amazing to me how many ways students can find to turn what was supposed to be a fun game into a nightmare! ;) I'm glad you found it helpful!