If you know me in real life, you know that I have a dance party with my kids regularly. I’m talking every day. Every single day we find a reason to dance and celebrate being alive, and we use our bodies to celebrate and have fun with music.
Dance is an important element of a preschooler’s life. As stated by ANDEO (Advancing Dance Education in the Arts), “Children move naturally. They move to achieve mobility, they move to express a thought or feeling, and they move because it is joyful and feels wonderful.” (See more here).
Dance is joyful and it feels wonderful. You don’t have to be an experienced dancer, or be trained in dance at all, to encourage dance in your home and/or classroom. Believe me when I tell you that preschoolers DO NOT CARE how good of a dancer you are as long as you are joining in on the fun!
Having a dance party can be as simple as turning on music and moving along with it. But don’t just tell your children to get up and dance. Dance with them!! Try to remember how it feels to be a child and be uninhibited by the movements your arms, legs, and hips make as you move with the music. We typically dance to Disney songs, as per request at my house, but it’s helpful to switch it up. Try having dance parties to top 40 hits, country music, hip hop, nursery rhymes, classical… experiment and find what music gets your moving.
Living room dance party.
If you are still feeling unsure, try incorporating some of these movement experiences into your dance party:
1. Dance with ribbon sticks. A ribbon stick is nothing more than ribbon attached to a stick. To make ours, we tie some scrap pieces of ribbon on to wooden skewer sticks. They don’t need to be fancy. Children will enjoy free style twirling and moving with the sticks, but you can also provide some pointers if needed such as having the children spin in circles, having them create circles with their sticks, or simply running with their sticks overhead.
2. Incorporate instruments, homemade or bought, into your dance parties. If you are looking to make your own, the easiest thing to do is to fill a bottle (glass and/or plastic) with beads, rice, uncooked pasta, beans, or bells. Super or hot glue the lid on so little fingers can’t pry it open. Then it’s time to shake, shake, shake! Tip: Homemade egg shakers are super fun, but in my experience preschoolers will ALWAYS try to open these eggs, and they will usually succeed! We have these and like them instead: Egg Shakers (aff link)
3. Utilize rhythm sticks. Kids love banging sticks together and making as much noise as possible with rhythm sticks. Encourage children to hit them together, on the floor, behind their backs, on their shoes, up high, down low, to the left, to the right…or just freestyle along with music. March around in a circle while keeping the beat with the sticks. Possibilities are surprisingly endless for such a simple add-on. We have these (aff link). They are textured, so they are also fun to rub together to make sound.
4. Turn on some preschool movement songs on YouTube. Listen to these with sound only or you or your kids might be tempted to sit down and watch TV instead of dance. The following list is wonderful because it encourages children to listen and follow directions as they dance:
My playlist can be found here.
5. Dance with props. If you and your children are still feeling your dancing is missing something, or you are still feeling uncomfortable, feel free to use a prop to assist in your dancing. Pick up a stuffed animal to swing around or a pillow to twirl. In the picture below, we cut out giant butterflies to dance around with in the yard.
Preschoolers love dance parties, and they can make you feel good, too. Even if you feel like you have zero energy, you’d be surprised how good you will feel after dancing with your kids. Stay hydrated and start slow! And dance, dance, dance!