Categotry Archives: Health and Wellbeing

Everybody Moving – Art

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Art has become a key part of everyone’s day whilst socially isolated at home. It is great for well being and learning. It is very therapeutic. Although dance is an art form in it’s own right, the TRS Teachers have thought of some ideas for how dance and art can be brought together. 

As always, please adapt the ideas to suit yourself and the people you’re with. The ideas are great at any age, for any ability, but always need adapting to make them the best they can be for each individual. Don’t forget to warm up sufficiently before dancing too!

Paint a Body…

This can be done with the whole body of parts of it. If you’re using the whole body, you need to find a big piece of paper such as rolled paper or unfolded boxes. Draw around the body or body part whilst it does a dance move or interesting gesture. This is a great way to learn about body parts. You could try codified dance steps such as a plie lying down or against the wall. You could do a sequence of three gestures to tell a story like in Kathak. Once you have the shape drawn, decorate it in some way with paint, pens, pencil, chalk, any medium you like!

… Or Send a Hug 

This is a really nice extra thing that could lead to a chat about feelings, very important at the moment. Instead of drawing round a dance move, draw around the top part of the body, with arms outstretched as though about to give a hug. Cut out, decorate and post to some one you would like to hug.

 

Foot Print Painting

Make your art floor… get a big bit of paper, join some paper together, open a cardboard box, use a paper tablecloth, lay down some opened and flattened bin bags, newspapers etc.

Once you have a suitable floor, put some random blobs of paint on it, turn the music on and dance through the paint! You could improvise or do a dance you’ve already learnt or have choreographed. You could use one of our videos if you want. After the dance you can see your pathway (that’s what we call the path taken through the dance). Is it varied? On the spot? Do you use all the space or only a little bit? What a great way to see if you’ve made a good use of the space.

An adaption for those who can’t walk. Ask someone to put the paint and paper under your feet. It feels amazing to have paint under your toes and you can still see what pathways your feet take during a dance.

Masks

Make a mask that turns the wearer into something different then move like that character. Animal masks work really well, but you can also try things like Zoro, Spiderman, The Lone Ranger or Lady Gaga (in the photo). You could make up characters as well. 

 


Paint what you find

On your next exercise walk, or in the garden, search for some unusual things to paint! If you’re doing this with children you can describe how you’re searching in different ways (high, reaching or stretching etc) to help develop their vocabulary. Once you’ve found the things you need to paint them and display them in whatever way you feel. This could be a bright, colourful display for a care home.

Croquis

Croquis is a French art form where the model moves and the artist sketches quickly. We held some Croquis events with artists Richard Jefferies and Marissa Mardon in 2014.

You could hold your own event and adapt it in your own way. For ours we had a dancer in the centre of the room and the artists, using whatever medium they wanted, around the edge. There was a different theme each week and the artists drew what they saw. Sometimes drawing the body, sometimes the movement, sometimes the space in between.

Use your imagination to make it interesting. Find out more and get ideas from our Croquis blog posts… https://www.therightstepdc.co.uk/category/croquis-events/ 

Click HERE for our Croquis Pinterest Board. 

Chalking Outside or In

Grab some chalk, whatever you have, but the bigger and chunkier the better. If you’re heading outside you can chalk on so many services. If you’re inside chalk works well on black paper, card board boxes or normal black boards. Some music playing in the background could provide to some interesting inspiration too.


Turn the Music Up

This goes back to our first Everybody Moving blog post, but with a difference… Paint with the music turned up and see how it affects your mood. You could try specific pieces of music. TRS Teacher, Jenny put The Gruffalo soundtrack on for her children whilst they painted these with brushes and straws (blowing the paint).

Body Part Challenge

Have you ever painted with your elbow or knee!? Why not give it a go!?

Dance in The Sand

Like a zen garden, but with dance. Such a fantastic sensory idea. You can do this in a large sand pit with your whole body, put a box or tray of sand on the floor under your feet whilst seated or have a tray of sand in front of you for just your hands. Cat litter trays and tea trays with high handles make good mini sandpits. Put the music on and see where it takes you. Make patterns whilst dancing and see what happens.

We also have a Pinterest board that links art and dance. Take a look here… https://www.pinterest.co.uk/therightstep/art-and-dancing/

For more Everybody Moving ideas to keep you moving throughout the day please see our other blogs and videos…

Everybody Moving

Everybody Moving – Care Homes

Everybody Moving – Families at Home

Everybody Moving – Videos

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Look After Yourself

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Written by Director of TRS SK, Georgie for the TRS Teachers and anyone else who is finding it hard at the moment. 

 

In these crazy uncertain times, we can forget one of the most important things… ourselves! Whether you’re a nurse, a carer, an activities coordinator, a teacher, a stay at home parent (who has now had to try and home school) or, like us, a freelancer. You need to make sure you are looking after YOU!

Everyone is juggling with things they aren’t used to, and that’s ok. You can make mistakes, you may even embrace these extras, but I wanted to help you make sure that you take care of yourself. Because at the end of the day, you need looking after, just like everyone else.

I’ve got together some ideas for you to try, they are simple for a reason. They won’t take much time out of your day, but you do need to allocate yourself some ‘you time’. Even if it’s 15 minutes at the end of the day. I guarantee you will feel the benefits of it straight away. The reason I know… I am in the same boat as you too. I started off in a panic, I was working ridiculous hours, racking my brain with all these worst-case scenarios and what will I do? All whilst bringing up my 8-month-old, and I did not give myself ANY time, and I started to burn out a lot quicker than usual!

This is why I wanted to do this, if I can help some people then that will be mission accomplished. If I help loads, even better! So here are my top ‘you time’ ideas:

  1. Read

I have always loved reading. However, I’ve struggled to find the time, and believe it or not, motivation, to do so. No matter what it is you prefer, whether it’s a fantasy world to get stuck into or a self-help book to help you find your way more. There are so many out there, and a tip from me… Reading before bed really allows you to relax your mind and take away all those thoughts that may go running around your head usually.

  1. Movie time

Yes, there are lots of people having to try schooling from home. But I have seen a lot of teachers say ‘don’t worry too much!’ and they’re right. Get the family together, or even on your own and like above get lost in a movie. Especially one you haven’t seen before. Put your PJ’s on, grab some snacks and literally relax on the sofa all snuggled up.

  1. Sing

That’s right. You don’t have to be the next Adele but singing really helps you to relax and loosen up. Put on your favourite record and sing your heart out!

  1. Dance

Now, being a dancer, this one was bound to come up. As above, turn the music on whether that be some 80’s pop or a slow bit of Enya. Just put the music on, close your eyes and move how your body feels. Let it lead you!

Remember when you were young and you would go to your room, put your favourite music on and sing and dance your heart out?! Why do we stop doing that! It’s a great way just to release ourselves and let go… trust me, give it a try!

  1. Draw / Colour

I’ll admit, I have never been great at art (my brother definitely got all of the talent there!) BUT that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy it. Especially colouring / painting by numbers. There’s something wonderful about seeing a black and white piece of paper come to life. I’ve especially loved painting with my little one. Just exploring the colours and honestly, making a mess! There are so many colouring sheets available and it is unbelievably relaxing. You can also do these on your phone, but try to get away from the screen for a little while.

  1. Breathe

Yep, I literally mean it. Take 5 minutes out of your day. Find a spot away from everyone (and the weather has been lovely recently so even go in the garden) and just close your eyes, sit and breathe. This can be done at any time, especially when you are feeling overwhelmed. It will reset you and you will feel ready for the rest of the day.

  1. Cook

I’ll be honest, this one isn’t for me BUT there are so many relaxing qualities to just letting loose in the kitchen and cooking up your favourite meal. Or learn a new recipe. Perhaps you’re really good at cooking but haven’t tried baking? Bake yourself your favourite cake… perfect movie snack right there!

  1. Self care

Now all of this is self care, but here particularly I am talking about your body. Give yourself a facial, hair mask or even a manicure and yes this is for men too! Just as relaxing for everyone. Even a couple of cucumbers on the eyes for 5 minutes while you relax will help you feeling fresh.

  1. Learn something new

Whether that be a new language, a course you’ve been wanting to do for a while or maybe even knitting. This will really give you that ‘you time’ you need. Again allocate yourself time to do this. You never know, you may even find your new niche!

  1. Write

Coincidentally I am finishing with writing. Just pick up a pen (or on your phone/laptop) and write away. There doesn’t need to be a theme. You don’t need to write a story, although you can do! But especially at the moment writing has really helped to clear my mind. Get different subjects out of my head but relax me and I can easily get lost just writing and writing.

 

So, there you have it. A few ideas for you to make sure you start looking after yourself. And remember, no storm lasts forever.

 

If you would like to read more a little bit like this, our Stress Free Freelancer blogs were aimed at freelancers and their health and wellbeing. 
https://www.therightstepdc.co.uk/tag/stress-free-freelancer/ 

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Everybody Moving – In Care Homes

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The second in our series of Everybody Moving blog posts is aimed at residents in care homes, but I’m sure there are ideas for everyone.
 

Some mood boosting ideas that can be used throughout the day! We really miss the care home residents we work with. Our Active Armchairs sessions are some of the most rewarding things we do.

 
Care homes were one of the first places to realise the danger of Covid-19 and they shut their doors to visitors a long time ago. Isolating the vulnerable people living in care homes was a really good idea, but it has meant a big reduction in activity specialists, such as ourselves, coming in for a visit. We hope that the ideas below will go some way to helping the fantastic Activity Co-ordinators, who are so important to residents, to keep everyone moving.
 

Name and Move

An adaption on the well loved Name and Shape… Take it in turns. Each person says their name and does a movement. Everyone else copies by saying the name and doing the movement. You can do this at the table waiting for food or in the living room. It could also be done from the room doorways if needed at the moment. It might be difficult to see each other, but some one could move along the corridor to help out.
 

A Dance a long

Some of the TRS Teachers have been filming their favourite dances. We’ve created a playlist called Everybody Moving and it contains both Active Armchairs exercises and dances as well as other ideas for people of various ages and abilities. You can have a flick through on our YouTube channel and we’ll share them on our Facebook page too. There are more to come so please keep checking back. The channel is therightstepdc and here’s the link to the Everybody Moving playlist
 

Torch dance

Something for the evening when no natural light’s coming in. Each person needs a torch. Turn the lights out, put some inspiring music on and dance in the dark. You can also try shadow puppets, explained in the first Everybody Moving blog
 

Magic Wands

Talk about books that include magic in them. Each person needs a magic wand. This could be a stick from the garden, a lolly stick, spoon held backwards or, if your lucky enough to have them rhythm sticks. You can put some magical music and improvise or learn some magic spells from Harry Potter. There are lots of ideas on our full blog post called Magic Spells.

Make Them Smile

The challenge is to make someone else in the room smile. Do a movement or a little dance just for them. It could be silly such as an octopus wiggle or it could be kind such as mining flowers growing and giving them away.

Superman

This song, by Black Lace, has lots of activities for daily living (ADLs) in it. It’s also a lot of fun to sing and dance to.
 
 
 
Just a few ideas to get you started. We will be sharing more ideas and videos so please keep an eye out. If there’s a theme you would like us to work around please let us know.  We are also writing little messages to our care homes so please keep an eye out in the post. 
 
Try out other blogs for more ideas too…
Everybody Moving
 
Everybody Moving – Props

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Magic Spells

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This is definitely ideal for those who love Harry Potter, but it can be for anyone interested in magic or who just wants to feel like a witch or wizard! 

This is an idea for people at any age, for any ability. Just adapt it to suit you and the people with you. 

Please make sure you have a safe space to do this in, warm yourself up appropriately and adapt everything to suit your needs.

You can begin by talking about Harry Potter or generally about books that include magic in them. This is a great idea for care homes due to the reminiscence and learning elements. It would also be fantastic for families who could have their own Harry Potter duel afterwards. There are also so many home schooling ideas that could be undertaken with Harry Potter as the theme. 

Cast Your Spells!

Each person needs a magic wand. This could be a stick from the garden, a lolly stick, spoon held backwards or, if your lucky enough to have them rhythm sticks. Some people may also have some really Harry Potter character wands at home if they’re big fans!

Next, learn some magic spells from Harry Potter. Think about the type of movements you would do for the result of each spell. Some people might know the real movements for the spells to. Swish and Flick!

Wingardium Leviosa – this spell levitates objects (or trolls) so swish and flick then hold your wand as you levitate the object.

Accio – the spell to bring things to you, you’ll have to hold onto this spell until the object arrives of course.

Alohamora – A little tap that unlocks doors.

Augmenta – Create water. Shake your wand as if water is coming out of the end.

Expecto Patronum – The Patronus charm to ward off Dementors. A big sweeping arm movement.

 

You can take this further by making up movements for how you might react to someone casting a spell.

Engorgio – make things larger

Reducio – make things smaller

Ridiculous – used for defeating a Bogart. This spell makes you look hilarious.

Expelliarmous – Disarming spell

Lumos – Turns the lights on, they might be quite bright!

 

If home schooling you could also think about your Patronus might be and why. You could draw it or make a model.

Reading is so important for all of us at the moment. Why not have a Harry Potter marathon and read them all!

 

For more ideas about how to keep moving at this time please read our other blogs designed to help people have fun and move throughout the day.

Everybody Moving

Everybody Moving – Care Homes

Everybody Moving – Families at Home

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Mini Challenges

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The first of our big ideas for passing the time in an active way during Social Distancing… Mini Challenges! 

The big ideas are designed for people at any age, for any ability, but they will need adapting for the people you’re with. So make your space safe, decide what you want to do and enjoy yourself!

Mini Challenges 

Have a competition between residents or family members or do a challenge just for fun! If you want to compete, choose a few of the following, make a points table, carry out the tasks and find your winner!

Wheel Barrows

Who can do the most arm lifts in the wheel barrow? One arm at a time. See our Facebook post for examples and don’t forget to add your own photos, we love to see them.
Wheel Barrows on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/therightstepdc
 
 

Describe your day

Think of a word to describe your day and make a gesture (arm movement) to go with it. One person chooses the winner or vote for the winner or placements.
 

Balance Dance

Have one person in the group choreograph a simple motif (short sequence of movement) or use one from on of our videos. Find something for each person to balance on their heads. You could try teaspoons, light books, washing up sponges etc. Everyone repeats the motif whilst attempting to balance the item on their head. The last person with their item balances wins.
 

Animal Races

You need a bit of space for this. Set a start and finish line and race with a different! Do some animal movements instead of running! Here are some ideas from Halling Primary’s Fun Fitness Club and TRS Teacher, Lou. Usually used as part of her warm up they’d be great for this challenge.
 
 
 

Limbo

How low can you go? Can you dance your way under? If you have some lei (flower necklaces) you could put them on too. 
 

Emoji Dance

A partner challenge. One person secretly picks an emoji either randomly or by choice. Do a dance to represent the emoji, but you can’t face your partner. You have to be looking the other way so they can’t see your facial expressions! The other person has to guess which emoji it is and if they’re right, each team member gets a point.

Plank

Who can hold their plank for the longest? The last to fall, wins!
 

Guess the movie 

A partner challenge, so both members will get points if you’re playing in that way. Dance the key moments or themes from a film so that your partner can guess the movie. A bit like Dance The Tale, but for films.
 

Name and Shape

Take it in turns to say your name and strike a pose. Vote for the best or top three and they get the points. We love doing name and shape in dance lessons. It’s totally adaptable to any person and any theme.
 
 
There are a few to get you going. We will add some more so please keep checking back! If you would like some more ideas for how to keep moving whilst your indoors, try our other blogs…
 

Everybody Moving

Everybody Moving – Care Homes

Everybody Moving – Families at Home
 
 
 

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Everybody Moving

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The TRS Teachers are stuck inside and our participants are too. We miss dancing with everyone so we’ve decided to share some ideas for how to keep dancing through the day.

This is a series of blog posts and there will be more content to follow. You can also keep an eye out for other things we’ve shared before, such as the ‘Props Spring Clean’, ideas that will be useful for cleaning lots of different things. This is the first post and it will be followed by ideas for older adults in care homes and another for families at home

Why is this important?

The Government guidance is that everyone should exercise everyday. 0-5 year olds should be active for at least 3 hours a day, 60 minutes for 5 – 18 year olds and 75 – 150 minutes a week for adults and older adults. This is much harder when we’re all stuck inside together!

It’s not just the higher intensity activity that’s the problem though. We also need to avoid sedentary behaviour, or at least break it up with movement. This is where our blogs will help most. 

As most people are stuck inside our mental health is suffering and we need to do all we can to help ourselves. Exercise is an excellent way to do this and dance has other elements that make it even more beneficial such as music and socialising.

By releasing endorphins throughout the day you can keep yourself happier.

How Can We Do That?

Here are a couple of general ideas to get you going. We will share more as we think of them and will also have some blogs that are a bit more specific like our blog for people in care homes and for families at home. 

Big Ideas

We have written some separate posts about these three exciting ideas. Just click on the link and it will open in a new tab. 

Mini Challenges

Pick one or have a tournament. These adaptable ideas will mostly work at any age, for any ability. 
CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE

Dance a Tale

Something inspired by our love of books! Also at any age, for any ability, this one just requires a favourite story. We’ve given some examples to get your started.
CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE

Magic Spells

A fan or Harry Potter or other magical adventures? This one is for you! 
CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE

Use Social Media

Some of our dance teachers have been filming themselves doing your favourite dances and exercises from TRS lessons. Find them on our YouTube Channel and copy them.

If you know the dance from one of our lessons why not help someone you’re with learn it too?

There are also a huge number of other people who have classes on YouTube. Have a good search through. The team and their families have been enjoying Andy’s Wild Workouts, PE with Joe Wicks and play dough gym.

Lots of the TRS Teachers also work for other dance companies or have their own dance schools. They have been working hard to move their lessons online and you can now join in with them! Keep an eye on on Facebook for Bridge Academy (Clare’s ballet lessons), Make It Groovy (Jenny’s craft, story and dance lessons for young children), AMG Dance (a selection of dance for children and Dancercise for adults with Alix and her team) and Dance Vibes (Clubbercise and other exercise lessons for adults with Shanice).

Turn the Music up

An idea from Andrea Barker, Confidence Coach, who did some training with us a while ago. Turn up the music and have a dance, wiggle, silly time! Choose some music you can’t help, but move to. It really works and is so uplifting! You could try ABBA, Phil Collins, Disney Singalong, Queen, 70s Disco songs, Happy by Pharell, Can’t Stop The Feeling by Justin Timberlake or Sing a longs like Daisy Daisy and Lambeth Walk. TRS Director, Rebecca and her daughter, Gaia demonstrate in the TRS Office.

When the TV says…

The basics of this game might be familiar to some!

Allocate different movements to words. For example ‘Hello’ is a star jump, ‘Yes’ is air punch etc. When someone on the television says ‘hello’, everyone has to do a star jump.

You could also put a hat on the corner of the screen and do a move everytime someone wears it!

Bubble wrap pop

If you happen to have some bubble wrap, lay it on the floor or table, turn the music up and pop, pop, pop in as many different ways as you can.

For adults in care homes this is great for fine motor skills. For families, this will probably lead to some larger movements such as rolling and stamping.

 

 

Skiffle Band

Skiffle is a music genre from the US in the 1920s. Musicians used cobbled together instruments, some manufactured and some home made, to perform jazz, blues and folk music. It also involved a lot of dance.

For this, everyone needs some sort of made up instrument. They used to use wash boards! Use your imagination, this can be fun in itself. Then you just have a jam and enjoy the noise!

For young children, as Harleigh demonstrates in the photo, this is just sensory play. For older children, young people and adults this could lead to a performance of a piece if you’re clever!

Shadow Puppets

This can be done with hands only, actual puppets or anything else! You need a shadow wall which is reasonably plain and flat. You could do this in the evening when the natural light goes away. Turn the lights off and hold a torch behind the person being or holding the puppet. Admire the movements they create and the story they tell!

 

Now that you have some initial ideas, choose your favourites and give them a go.

If you’re home schooling, schedule the ideas in for brain breaks, as part of PE time or as just for fun things to do as a family. 

Next, try our other Everybody Moving blog posts for more ides and keep an eye out on our social media for more ideas, challenges and videos. 

Everybody Moving – Care Homes

Everybody Moving – Families at Home

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Props Spring Clean

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Ideas from the TRS Teachers, compiled by Georgie, Director of TRS South Kent

With everything that’s happening recently, we wanted to create some useful blogs for you all. Our first one is all about cleaning props! It’s just a few tips and tricks, that the TRS teachers use, that we thought may benefit you as we know we are not the only ones using props in our sessions. Care homes and schools also use them as well as other teachers and parents. We don’t know if these ideas will kill the Covid-19 germs, but they will clean up your props.


Our first way of cleaning can be used for scarves, dusters and most materials (although please do check guidelines!) You can easily just put them in the washing machine! That way you know they would have had a nice deep clean and with the beautiful sunshine we’ve been having, just hang them up to dry! It also makes a lovely, colourful rainbow in your kitchen!

 

Another commonly used prop in our classes is feathers. Now these are very delicate, and we obviously can’t put them in a washing machine! So how do you get germs and things off them? It’s simple, place them in bags and freeze them! This will clean them up and keep them from getting ruined. Again, it also makes a nice colourful draw in the freezer!

Some other things TRS teachers do… simple washing up; you can get everyone involved by hand washing balls, spots and the other plastic props you use. The little ones at home would love that! And perhaps, even some residents!

As well as deep cleaning our props regularly from home, we also have ways to clean them on the go! Anti-bacterial wipes are a cheap and quick way to wash on the go, as well as using Dettol disinfectant spray.

There are lots of ways to ensure your props are clean and safe for all to use. The TRS Teachers are cleaning all of their props at the moment. We are not currently teaching and we want to stop the spread of germs so a good Spring Clean gives us something useful to do. 

I hope this has been a helpful little tool and you can always refer back to it. Look out for more helpful, handy blogs coming your way soon!

 

 

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Enhance Project Report

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The full Enhance Project Report is ready to read! 

The Enhance Project was undertaken as a way to find out what it is that Active Armchairs does for participants, but it became much more than that. 

“When I was developing Active Armchairs, a gentleman in the session, told me that, before doing the classes, he couldn’t brush his hair. He proudly stated that now he could. From this day I wanted to find out what it is that dance can do for it’s participants. Almost 10 years later, it’s finally time to scientifically prove what it is that our classes do for the dancers, and that is why we want to hold a research project.” Rebecca Ashton, Director at The Right Step Dance Company.

The Enhance Project Report explains what Active Armchairs is, including a quick history, outlines what was included in the project and explains the results. University of Kent PhD Student, Ian Farr’s short report is also included. This is a short version of the full report that will be written for his PhD. 

“The current study shows an increase in physical activity and associated benefits to physical and mental health when care home residents take part in Active Armchairs dance workshops.” Ian Farr, PhD Student, University of Kent.

If you would like a copy of the report please email us or read below. 

For more information about Active Armchairs please click HERE.

For more blog posts about the Enhance Project, please click HERE.

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Enhance Training Day

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The final testing as part of the Enhance, our Active Armchairs research project, is complete and I’ve received first drafts and many questionnaires and reports from various people. We are now awaiting the final results and I will also be writing a full project report, it is an exciting time for me as I can’t wait to share all the positive things that have come from it! 

Over half term the Active Armchairs Facilitators and I met for a training day. This is probably the first time that all facilitators have been in the same room at the same time. This unprecedented training day was exciting for all of us, but it also sent a clear message… your Active Armchairs sessions are doing fantastic things. A confidence boost like this is always good and we had a whole day to explore the many positives, how we can replicate them and what we can do to improve further. 

Bring on the Continued Professional Development (CPD) that the TRS Teachers crave! 

I asked some of the teachers to comment on the day…

“I thoroughly enjoyed the Enhance training session. I was looking forward to hearing the results. As a facilitator I know and can see the benefits in each one of my classes, but to get the scientific proof to back this, is fantastic! The CPD session allowed us all to be caught up and expand our knowledge further to enable us to really help the participants in each one. I learnt a lot of new ideas and ways to make my Active Armchairs sessions even better, for both myself and participants to enjoy!” Georgie, Owner of TRS South Kent, Level Three TRS Teacher and Level Two Active Armchairs Facilitator

“I think the training was important as it was an opportunity for the teachers to come together and talk about the Active Armchairs sessions and how they will implement the result of Enhance in their classes. It was great to have evidence to back up what we actually already knew, that Active Armchairs is good for us! I thought the confidence increase was really interesting and it was fascinating to hear about how this can affect our ability to do something when we previously thought that we couldn’t. I think the results will influence my choreography as I will now think about what impact I what the moment to have and how this can be adapted and achieved.” Georgia Smith, Level Three TRS Teacher and Active Armchairs Facilitator

“I was really interested to understand what kind of tests was carried out and the results of them. I was extremely interested in the results about the hand grip. Understanding that it wasn’t dance that helped improve movement. but the dance increased wellbeing and self belief. Aiding them to push further and accomplish more movement. 
I really enjoyed the training and understanding how psychological it can be in boosting your mood and well being.” Hayley, Level Two TRS Teacher and Level One Active Armchairs Facilitator
 
“Being a part of, and subsequently hearing the results from the Enhance Project will play an integral part to how I approach the planning and delivery of my Active Armchairs classes. I was elated to hear about the importance of instilling confidence to participants during classes and look forward to ensuring this is a given going forward.” Steph, Facilitator for the Enhance Project, Level Three TRS Teacher and Level Two Active Armchairs Facilitator
I began the day by telling the facilitators all about the project, although they all knew some of what was going on, it was great to share everything from the question we asked (above) to the logistics of the day to day. We then did lots of exercises, brain break games (left), a Q and A session with facilitators and, of course, some choreography, to explore the various outcomes and experiences from all aspects of the project. 
 
The full results will be published soon along with a project report in January, but for now we can share some of the conclusions we drew during the Enhance Training. 
 
We talked a lot about how Active Armchairs affects the various people involved and this includes care home staff and family members. We looked at their perspectives and drew conclusions from the questionnaires and feedback we’d received throughout. One comment particularly stood out because it mentioned lots of the things we consider for our sessions such as CHOICE.

“Enabling our residents to have varied meaningful activities is a must. Our activities coordinator is really motivated and arranges a wide range of activities. As with any activity only certain residents will participate depending on their ability, physically and whether they are actually interested and willing to take part in specific activities.” Pat Rossouw, Home Manager at Barton Court

We talked about how Active Armchairs is a meaningful activity, outlined in NICE Quality Statement 1: Participation in Meaningful Activity and we thought of lots of ways we support this fact as well as how we can develop further.
 
The biggest thing to come from the results so far… in brief, and as alluded to by the facilitators above, increased confidence led to improved hand grip in the non dominant hand. This is something we are all extremely pleased with because, with the group of people we work with, physical maintenance at the most is expected, we made an improvement and, not only that, the improvements come from all the things we do that surround the physical activity, not just the physical activity itself. This is very affirming. 
 
Towards the end of the day we created a list of the main things Active Armchairs is adding to the lives of our participants. The findings behind this list will all be in the project report. 
 
  • Meaningful Activity
  • Confidence
  • Motivation
  • Inclusion
  • Maintenance
  • Positive Relationships
  • Variety
  • Physical Maintenance / Development

All the facilitators, including myself, left with a practical, personal to do list, of the things we wanted to do next for our classes. These were things like set myself a mini challenge (so that we would choreograph in a new way), learn more participant names (because sometimes participants can’t tell us themselves), research meaningful activity further and check the care homes have our poster on their notice board (this helps participants/residents know when we’re coming, gives them opportunity to get excited and integrates us into care home life).
 
The main aim of the day was for it to be useful and inspiring and it really was. It was also very confidence boosting for everyone and it really was very therapeutic! The dance teachers did a great job and I can’t wait to see what happens next. 

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Dance Ideas for PSHE

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As a subject, the content, aims and reasons for PSHE change often. It has changed names multiple times since I was at school and most schools have different approaches to it. However, at it’s core, PSHE in primary schools, generally always covers similar values and subjects.  

PSHE stands for Personal, Social and Health Education. Sometimes it is taught to a whole class in a normal setting or in circle time, sometimes it is taught it small groups. It is also taught all of the time in terms of personal development, values and general knowledge. This means it is an excellent subject for a cross-curricular dance class. Dance also teaches many of the life skills found in PSHE without the teacher having to focus on a particular aspect. For example, team work and friendships are seen in all dance classes.

In this blog I’m going to share a few dance ideas for just a few of the subjects covered by PSHE. These could be put towards a dance class or used as stand alone fun.

Friendship

Dance About You – Put children into partners. Start with someone they know well, you can repeat the task with someone they don’t know at another time. Put a short piece of music on (about 2 minutes, Come on Everybody or Blue Suede Shoes are good) and let the children ask each other questions until they find out a new thing (3 things if able) about each other. Now they work alone for a few minutes to make up a movement or sequence about the new fact(s) they’ve learnt. Share the moves with partners and then the whole class. All the movements or sequences could be strung together and performed by the whole class as a team and this would be nice at the start of the year with a new class or if more togetherness or team building is needed within a class.

Teamwork

The Spider Web – Everyone holds onto the giant elastic in a circle. Teacher says a name and that person moves across the circle. This repeats with dancers going over and under the elastic in different ways until it is a big web. Now they have to undo the web! This is a dance class though so everything needs to be done with an interesting way of moving.

The Mexican Wave – you don’t just have to do this the traditional way, other movements can be performed in a similar way and in dance we call this is cannon.

Country Dancing – As a whole dance style, country dancing is great for teamwork. A do-si-do (moving back to back around your partner) is a well known example. A Grand Chain (Holding hands) or Weave The Ring (Not holding hands) are excellent whole class team work based country dance elements that could be used in a dance or as an exercise. All stand in a circle face your partner next to you, holding right hand. Move past your partner and towards the next person and hold left hands. Keep passing holding right then left hands as you go.

Trust

There are a lot of dance and drama trust exercises such as trust falls and trust walks and they are well documented. The following idea is just for dance though and it is also great for teamwork.

Trust Motif Development – teach a simple motif or allow the dancers to choreograph one. It must all be standing up. Once they’ve learnt the motif they have to partner up and choose a prop. Things that work well are solid, about half a metre in length and are not heavy. For example, scarves or giant pipe cleaners. To simplify, the teacher can give everyone the same prop. The partners hold the prop between them and have to perform the motif again, but with the prop connecting them. The motif might develop in various ways, it might be slowed down or one person might use the opposite side of the body, for example. To make things more exciting, the partners could unknowingly choose how to hold the prop. They choose from the options hand or foot, face front or face back and right or left. Then, once the teacher has explained, they hold the prop between them. For example, hand, facing each other, left hands.

Confidence and Honesty

Telling the truth is often about having self confidence and that’s why I’ve put these two together. It’s also about how truth and lies feel to other people. It is quite a concept to grasp and from around Year 2 as it becomes more complicated than just, telling the truth is the right thing to do. You could use a story to support learning around telling the truth and use a cross-curricular approach in the dance class. The Truth Pixie by Matt Haig or, of course, the very famous, Pinnochio might be helpful

Peer feedback is good way to encourage positive, helpful, constructive truth telling. Ask for Nice and Helpful feedback, You did this and now you could try…

To encourage confidence in dance class I try to find an opportunity for every young dance to do a movement or shape on their own near the start of class. This could be during the register or part of name and shape. It’s important thay there is a ‘way out’ if they don’t know what to do. This could be by copying someone else’s idea or the teacher using whatever position they’re standing in as their shape or a move such as a shoulder shrug or head shake if they have indicated they don’t know what to do in this way. Either way, they have taken part and got through it.

Respect and Anti Bullying

Your Daily Dance has lists of music by theme, including one for songs about bullying. Appropriate versions would need to be sought for many of the song, but the list is a very useful starting point.  https://www.yourdailydance.com/songs-about-bullying/

Greetings Warm Up with a difference – Everyone walks around the space and, when teacher calls a number or colour, or holds up a sign or makes an instrument noise (there are lots of options!), they perform an action. Here are some examples.

– High five the nearest person
– Hand shake with the nearest person
– Fold arms and stop in front of the nearest person then turn away
– Stand in front of the nearest person with your arms and legs out stretched (open and vulnerable)
– Loop arms, link together

Afterwards, talk about how the actions made you feel. Progress this further in other lessons by asking the dancers for their own ideas, perhaps focusing on things that make them happy or things they think will make others happy.

 

I’ve just scratched the surface of how dance and pshe go hand in hand. Other aspects such as Golden Rules, worry and internet safety could all be explored using a cross-curricular approach and the things I have covered could be part of a lesson or scheme of work. As always with our work in Educating Dance, the options are endless!

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