Image Map

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Distance Music Lesson Ideas: Dance

One of the first messages I got from a student when we first started distance learning was a 4th grader telling me about how her whole family was dancing around the house singing along with the songs I had put together for her assignment. That image has been seared in my mind ever since. What's better for all of us right now than dancing? Today I want to share some ideas for getting students (and maybe their families too) dancing through distance learning.

1. Online Teaching

If you're teaching online, there are tons of ways to get students dancing! Share my dance playlist and encourage students to dance along. Of course there's nothing wrong with leaving it there and just encouraging students to have some musical fun, but there are also lots of musical concepts you can review at the same time:

Tell students to make their dance moves bigger and smaller to match the dynamics of the music- take the opportunity to review some vocabulary when you introduce the lesson!

Steady Beat/ Tempo
Give students some examples of moves that show the beat and moves that don't, then tell students to show the steady beat with their dance moves. If you pick out a few specific songs that are contrasting tempi, you can also ask students to identify the speed after they move with the beat.

One of my favorite concepts to practice with dance is form. Have students pick one dance move to use for each contrasting section- whenever the music changes, they change their dance move. Review the concept of form and ask them to identify the form with letters (ABA, etc) after dancing with the music.

2. No Tech

For situations where you're not relying on technology, dance is a perfect way to get students dancing! 

Hand Wash Dance
Tell students to choreograph their own dance, incorporating at least one of the hand washing techniques recommended by the WHO. Show this video as inspiration, then encourage them to make up their own!

Choice Board
Choice boards are always a great idea when you're sending something home and don't know what resources students will have available to them! Here's one you can save and use with your students, or use the ideas to make your own:

3. Virtual Teaching

If you're hosting live class sessions online in some way, of course you have more options of doing things more like we would in a regular classroom setting! Even if dance isn't the primary focus of a lesson, taking time for a "dance break" can really help lift everyone's mood and foster a sense of community. If you do choose to have everyone dancing together, keep in mind that there will be a delay with the audio and visual for each person's video. Make sure all of the students mute their audio, and tell everyone to just watch you and not follow each other or they'll get very confused! You may even want to show them how to "pin" your video to show as the big picture on the screen rather than watching everyone in a grid view, depending on the platform you're using.

I hope this gives you some ideas to use with your students in this confusing and difficult time! If you've come up with more great ideas to get kids dancing through distance learning, please share them in the comments below. Don't forget, I'm compiling all of my posts for school closures into one page for easy access- head to that page for more ideas:


  1. You can add something related to dancing with a prop. Like a prop challenge or something.