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Teaching Dance at School to Children With Special Needs

written by: Anne Vize • edited by: Lamar Stonecypher • updated: 1/5/2012

This is a great lesson plan for teaching dance to children with physical disabilities. To make this lesson a winner, you need a strong focus on inclusion, your own creativity as a teacher, and some funky music to get everyone bopping away!

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    Why Teach Creative Dance?

    Creative dance, like swimming, is a fantastic activity to teach as part of a physical education program for children with physical disabilities. Dance lesson plans are easy to put together, and can help you meet a variety of goals for children with special needs. Creative dance can help:

    • Build balance and coordination
    • Increase muscle strength
    • Increase muscle endurance
    • Build flexibility
    • Encourage team work, cooperation and group skills
    • Develop an awareness of beat, rhythm and movement to music skills
    • Develop an understanding of musical qualities and the relationship of music to emotion and mood

    For about as long as there has been music, people have loved to dance to it. Dance is an integral part of the physical education curriculum, and it should be included for able-bodied as well as disabled students. Begin by developing dance lesson plans which allow you to teach in a way which builds your own confidence as a teacher, and then add your creative flair as you become more confident. Children with special needs will benefit from your own positive role modelling, so ensure you set an example which encourages experimentation and exploration of movement.

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    Modfying a Creative Dance Lesson for Children With Physical Disabilities

    Pre-lesson:

    Choose some music options that have a strong beat, are age appropriate, and are not too fast

    Think through how your students might move to the music, and predict any problems or issues

    Check your room or venue for safety and ease of access

    Locate any props, aids or equipment needed for your session (such as silk ribbons, needed for this activity)

    Introduction:

    • Provide a brief introduction to the activity, and remind students there are no 'right' or 'wrong' ways to dance - it is simply the music guiding and moving your body through movements
    • Give students some scarves or silk ribbons (having these ready in a special box can add a touch of theater to the activity)
    • Play some music that you have chosen
    • Encourage students to select a ribbon or scarf and assist with any hand grips or support needed
    • Have students move about the room moving their ribbons or scarves to the music, with you as teacher participating also
    • Limit the music to about a minute or so - long enough for students to begin enjoying and relaxing into the activity but not long enough that they become self conscious or bored
    • Provide a range of props (scarves, ribbons, hoops etc) and vary these for students to use during more and less structured creative dance experiences

    Post activity:

    Discuss how students felt during the various creative dance experiences, and which props they enjoyed using the most

    Ask students to generate some words to describe how they felt during the dance, and to make choices as a group about what sorts of music they would like to listen to in the next lesson

    Consider how to develop the next in your dance lesson plans series for students with special needs, and in no time you will have a whole new unit on dance at school happening. They'll be dancing in the hallways!


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