Written by Kirstie, TRS Teacher

I had a very busy Book Week with Ellington Infants School and delivered 6 different sessions across 2 days. It might have been busy but I had SO much fun!

My day started on in Gray Class (Year 1) and their chosen book was “Oi Frog”. Of course, given the name of the story, we had to warm up by having some frog races and students loved bouncing up and down the room. I then asked our dances a very important question, how does a frog become a frog? Which bought us quite nicely to the topic of life cycles. We looked at and discussed the life cycle of a frog and came up with some movements as a group to represent each stage, we even put these together to form a small sequence.

Once our frogs had become fully grown, we began to explore another key element from the story…rhyming! Our dancers had to identify the rhymes and could only make a movement if they found a rhyming pair. They laughed as I threw in some silly examples such as “frog and potato” and “frog and toilet”.

I then set them off on an independent task giving them rhyming pairs that are mentioned in our story and our dancers came up with their own sequences that they all showed at the end. After all their hard work we, of course, had to play a game and I called it Throw The Frog. Each Student was given a bean bag wrapped in a green scarf.  There were 4 targets to aim for, blue to represent a pond and green to represent a lily pad. This was a great way to cool down and develop our aim and coordination skills.

“This is so wonderful that you have put in so much effort for the children, thank you so much!” Gray class teacher

“That was so much fun, I don’t want to leave” Year 1 Participant

Next it was time for Donaldson Class (Year 1) to have their book week workshop with their chosen story “The Gruffalo”. We, of course, started off with a warm up which was very similar to musical bumps but instead of sitting down our dancers had to hide from the Gruffalo. Students giggled and laughed as I added in some speed rounds just for fun!

After this, with the use of props, we explored the contrasting characters in the story and practiced leading from different parts of our body. For example, when becoming the mouse, we made our movements small and quick, whereas our owls led from their chest and flew gracefully through the sky. Our dancers particularly liked bringing our fox to life as they used a partner to create the front and back of the animal using a wheelbarrow motion. It was a great challenge!

Once we had explored each character, I set the students off on an independent task. Each group had 3 characters as a focus and came up with their own sequences to represent each animal, they were really excited to share them with each other!

After all of their hard work, we sat down to look at the scenery in the story and made our own woodland using a sheet and some artificial leaves. We imagined it was a breezy day and our dancers screamed with excitement when we made the leaves fly around the room!

I finished the day off with Coelho Class (Year 2) who had just started to look at the story “Luna Loves Dance”. As this story mentioned many different styles of dance, I decided to focus our session on the theme of Carnival. I started off by asking the dancers to look at the page in the story and come up with some words to describe our theme. They came up with words such as “party”, “colourful”, “musical” and “fun”. We, of course, had to look at and dance to some classic party dances such as The Conga and Limbo.

We then looked at different props that were using in a carnival and experimented with different ways of moving with a scarf. It was really great to watch our dancers develop their musicality and keep to the beat of the song.

Once we had explored some example movements, I set them off on a group activity. Each group had to come up with four of their own movements to represent a carnival. It was great to see how creative our dancers could be and how different groups approached the task differently.

After this, we cooled down the class by using some feathers and changed the slowed down tempo, our dancers responded brilliantly to this and loved throwing the feathers to the sky and watching them float to the floor.

I came back to Ellington Infants the very next day and started the sessions off with Bright Class (Reception). Their focus book was “The Lion Inside”; a sweet story about how a little mouse becomes unlikely friends with a Lion. This was the perfect opportunity to look at the theme of friendship and opposites.

I started our warm up off by using opposite describing words such as “big, small, wide and tall” and our dancers loved making these words come to life using their bodies.

Once we were warm, we then looked at the animals in the story that matched the describing words. Our focus animals for this session were the mouse, the lion, the giraffe and the rhino. Of course, in order to make the animals come to life, we used a variety of masks and props. Once we had explored each character, I then set up a catwalk and used a grey mat to represent the rock in the story. Our dancers walked the catwalk and got to choose a character to pose as whilst their teacher snapped a photo! Finally, we created a short dance as a whole class to “The Circle of Life” and they performed it to each other in small groups. Each dancer was so brave!

We finished our class by playing a game of friendship musical statues. Whereby students demonstrated some freestyle moves and froze when the music stopped. They then found a different friend to high five during each round. The dancers even got to take home a lion mask as a memoir from the day which they were so excited about!

“I loved ALL of it, I really did!” Reception Pupil walking back down the corridor

“That was very special, let’s give Kirstie a Bright Class sparkle to make her feel warm and fuzzy inside.” Reception Teacher

“What a fantastic and creative way of explaining this” Reception Teacher

My second session of the day was with Carle Class (Reception) who were exploring the very popular story of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”. We started our session with a warm up. For this I used the sentence, “Today I am a caterpillar and I am feeling…” and replaced the end of the sentence with words such as curly, wriggly, sleepy and crawly. Our dancers loved exploring different ways of moving around the room.

After this, we looked at the life cycle of a caterpillar and came up with movements to represent each stage. Before we knew it, we had choreographed our very own dance! Pupils were so eager to share the dance that we added a performance onto the end of our session.

My favourite part of this class had to be creating our own giant caterpillar as a group. One dancer started as an egg, and we added 2 more students in a line to represent our tiny caterpillar. We then followed the story, on Monday he ate 1 apple and another dancer joined the line, on Tuesday he ate two pears and 2 students joined the line and so on. Until the caterpillar had eaten so much that he was no longer a tiny caterpillar he was “big and fat!”. This representation made it easier for the students to understand the story and they laughed as we travelled around the room in unison.

We then finished by exploring the movements of a butterfly and our dancers took turns at leaping, jumping, skipping and running across the room with some colourful scarves which represented their wings.

My last Book Week session was with Adeola Class (Year 2) and their chosen story was “We’re Going to Find a Monster”. I must say this class bought so much enthusiasm and creativity, I was blown away! This story follows a map of two siblings who are looking for a monster, and I thought it would be great to focus our session of sequencing.

Our first area of the map to explore was sailing in the sea. Our dancers worked in small groups to create their own boats using their bodies and then added a movement to bring them to life. We then moved onto climbing the mountain, this allowed us to explore different ways of travelling. Pupils leaped and bounced to the mountain which was represented by a grey mat. Their favourite part was jumping off at the end!

Following the map, we ended up in the forest which we represented using green scarves tide together. Slowing down the tempo, our dancers had to take turns to crawl underneath the leaves without getting caught by any jungle animals. Our last area on the map was by far the students favourite. They had to travel through the “bubbly bubble lake”. Of course, it wouldn’t be a bubbly lake without bubbles. As soon as I bought out the bubble machine, everyone screamed in excitement! We all pretended to float between the bubbles and popped some along the way.

Once we explored each area of the map, students came up with their own choreography in small groups. They especially did a great job of sequencing the order of events in the story. It was an amazing way to end a truly successful week!

“That was brilliant, thank you so much!” Year 2 Teacher

Find out more about Educating Dance HERE. Your school can dance the tale!