Categotry Archives: How To

Motor Skills Part Three

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The third and final blog post in my motor skills series… a few things to try!  If you missed them, please check out the previous blogs posts…
 
Section One: Gross Motor Skills 
Section Two: Fine Motor Skills
Section Three: How to Maintain and Improve Motor Skills With Dance (this section)
 
Some things to try! 
 

Use a giant elastic in a circle. The fact that you’re dancing as a team gets everyone excited and they forget themselves. This generally increases the size of movement at any age or ability and therefore is great for gross motor skills. The fact you’re also holding onto the elastic is great for strengthening fingers and, therefore, fine motor skills too. 

 
There are plenty of things to do with a giant elastic, but for this purpose you could put some music on with a simple beat. Gently bounce the elastic to the beat as a group, as you continue change the movement you’re doing. You could try up, down, up, down, bicycle arms, swaying side to side and much more. The picture is of some of the TRS Teachers in Educating Dance training using the giant elastic to create large shapes. 
 

Swap hands! In dance class we always do things both sides. It often feels odd not to because one side will be stronger or more flexible than the other. With the hands this is known as Bilateral Integration and this can be improved by doing a prop exercise with the other hand too! For example, if you’re using scarves, encourage the group to swap hands half way through.
 
Lycra is great for resistance. A fun game for children and able adults… as a group, hold the lycra at the edges and pull it taught, but not completely tight. One person goes underneath and stretches the lycra in interesting shapes. You can also do a similar thing as a group sitting on the floor and making shapes with legs. 
 
The Smallest Movement Counts  in Active Armchairs and this is applicable whenever you’re working on fine motor skills. Small movements and gestures are great for brain breaks in the classroom at school or for a few minutes of hand training in a care home. I mentioned finger counts in my second blog post, but there are plenty of other things that can be done. You can try tapping each of the fingers on the thumb, putting songs on with simple rhythms and moving fingers in different ways or remembering and talking about signifying gestures such as pointing and waving. 

Egg and Spoon races can be achieved whilst standing or sitting. It just takes some imagination. The idea for egg and spoon races in Active Armchairs came from Steph during the Age of Creativity Festival last year. The theme was partnership and the egg and spoon passing sprung from that. 

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these ideas and have learnt at least a little something. The plan is for 2019 to be the year of useful, informative and inspiring blog posts so please keep an eye out and see our News Page for more. 

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Motor Skills Part Two

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The second part in the motor skills blog series, fine motor skills. If you’re behind here are some links…

Section One: Intro and Gross Motor Skills
Section Two: Fine Motor Skills (This section)
Section Three: How to Maintain and Improve Motor Skills With Dance

Fine Motor Skills: these are smaller movements making use of smaller muscles, most commonly in the hands. Movement examples would include clenching a fist, wiggling toes or using tools such as cutlery or a computer mouse and keyboard.

In dance props are our main source of support in fine motor skill development and maintenance, but there are things that can be done without. When working with children in an Educating Dance (cross-curricular) class small gestures are wonderful at conveying meaning. I used them in our Dinosaurs themed classes when doing a warm up about excavation and fossils (see photo below). A dance club as a whole can also be a good opportunity for practice as participants often have to get changed and therefore use buttons, buckles and laces.

In our Active Armchairs classes we do the finger count in our first warm up dance. This is predominantly about the opening the  lungs (we shout our counts as the fingers open), but it is also great for fine motor skills, the circulatory system and generally waking bodies and minds for the class. It is one of the few essential movements that are found in Active Armchairs sessions, though the TRS Teachers still put their own spin on it.

Props make development and maintenance of fine motor skills much easier. Simply holding a relatively small object is beneficial.  Squeezing balls or egg shakers (the TRS Teachers have hundreds of these between them) takes the benefit to the next stage. I have a fun trick with scarfs where by you screw it up into one hand, hiding it away, then slowly open it to make a rose.

Fine motor skills, like gross motor skills, are key to freedom and self worth, but in different ways. Fine motor skills allow someone to press buttons, write and draw, point and make signifying gestures or sign. Without them, as with gross motor skills the ability to perform simple tasks is lost.  Children have a sense of excitement and pride when they receive a pen licence. An adult who can write down or draw their thoughts is able to express themselves artistically.

The next section is How to Maintain and Improve Motor Skills With Dance.

Props Sharing

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Written by Rebecca, Georgia and Jess.

The TRS Teachers gathered for a props sharing to discuss ideas for using props in the dance class with different age groups and in different settings. The sharing was a great success and not only did we all come away with lots of ideas, we also made some props together such as egg shakers and a giant scarf. 

During the the sharing we explored different ways to use the props we had made and thought of ways we could use these as a way to engage participants and to enhance the dance class.

“I love using props in a dance class because they always enhance the session and they can be used as a tool to engage the participants and develop creative moment. I use props in classes for all ages as they provide a visual stimuli and provide the participants with something fun and tactile. Props can be used to create music (such as the shakers) or encourage a participant to move in a certain way. Some examples of this may be to reach a bean bag as high as you can, move a scarf softly through the space or squeeze a ball to see how tightly you can grip it before passing it to your neighbour. I had a wonderful time at the props session and cannot wait to put the ideas in to practice.”
Georgia Smith (Adult Dance Co-ordinator, Level Two TRS Teacher and Active Armchairs Facilitator)

Jess is the newest member of the TRS Team and is absorbing all the ideas she can. She said…

I have recently started teaching in different environments and with different age groups. This has made me think about the way I can incorporate props into my classes. Not only can props extend the movement and can help tell a story, they can also help participants interact with each other and with me, as their teacher, creating new bonds and friendships within the group. The sharing gave lots of ideas for how to make props and use them in classes in different ways. Props never just have one use, with a little imagination a scarf can turn into anything.

The sharing provided lots of ideas of how to make props and use them in classes in different ways.
Plastic eggs to make egg shakers
Material to sew together and make bean bags
Hoops to add ribbons to and wave

We created a prop shopping list that included teacher’s favourite props. Some of them are the basics that every TRS Teacher needs! 
Feathers
Scarves 
Ribbons
Cotton Snowballs
Pom Poms
Ball Pit Balls
Dusters (A great first prop, 50p for a  pack of 100!)
Bubbles

At The Right Step we love to share great practice and this is what the sharings are about, but we found the props sharing was also very therapeutic. Conversation and craft in a relaxed atmosphere. As well as sharing days between the TRS Teachers we also share props and ideas on our Facebook page, usually on a Wednesday, so keep an eye out HERE

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Fortnite Fever

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Written by Georgie, franchise owner, TRS Teacher and Active Armchairs Facilitator.

Have you heard the ‘Hype’? Figured out the ‘Floss’? Or maybe you’ve just discovered the ‘Dab’? Are any of these words ringing a bell?

If, like me, you wondered what on earth a lot of the students in your classes are talking about then here’s a little insight into the world of ‘Fortnite’ (emphasis on the little!)

A few months ago, I heard of this brand new game coming out which a lot of people were excited for. I had no idea it would start coming up in almost every dance class I taught! The basics of the game is a little like Call of Duty (a shooting game), but friendlier and for younger audiences. For example, when I attempted to play, I was running around with a giant lollipop!

But I’m a dancer, not a gamer… so how does this relate to dance? Well apparently, there are these things called ‘emotes’ which are taunts that you can perform to another player if you beat them. This is supposed to tease the other player. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m just used to the old ‘ner, ner, ner’? Anyway, there are so many and almost all of them are some form of dance! I thought I’d give you the top 5 (and the most common ones I see) within the dance class, and who knows you could come across as a really cool dance teacher! I thought I’d give you a bit of comedy with my attempts alongside the originals for a giggle!

So we’ll start at number 5: ‘’Orange Justice”

This was created by a player of Fortnite who entered a competition to enter his dance as an emote for fortnite! I don’t think he was the overall winner but the makers liked it so much they decided to keep it! The ‘orange’ is simply because he was wearing orange in his video. It involves basically swinging your arms around whilst awkwardly bending your knees in odd angles (that’s the best way to describe it!) It’s easier to just take a look.

Number 4: The Floss

Also known as ‘Backpack Kid’, The Floss was created by said backpack kid in America. The idea is to swing your arms side to side (like you’re flossing) and wiggle you’re hips at the same time! Oh and don’t forget to have the complete blank expression while you do it!

Number 3: Hype

Hype is also called ‘Shoot Dance’ and comes from a music video from BlocBoy JB. This involves hopping up and down on one leg whilst pushing your arms forward by your side then changing to just one arm punching from the elbow. It’s better than it sounds!

Number 2: The Electro Shuffle

Much more dancey than the others, The Electro Shuffle involves the classic ‘shuffle’ that was created mainly for ‘rave’ music purposes in the 1980’s. This actually took longer than 30 seconds to learn!

Finally I had to finish with: Fresh!

The classic dance move for anyone around in the 90’s. Fresh comes from the show the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. The cousin in the show ‘Carlton’ created this move and has become his signature move. It’s fun and free! Just enjoy yourself…. And don’t forget to stick on Tom Jones in the background!

 

 

The Dancing Day

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Government guidelines say schools need to get pupils moving more. Here are some tips to include dance through out the day. They aren’t going to make pupils sweat, but they make movement fun.

1_green-svgMorning Shake Up 
Wake up the body and the mind with anything from a few quick movements to a 30 minute Fun Fizz session on the carpet, in the hall or on the playground.

IMG-20150710-WA0021cropYou could try ‘the rub’, something we use as a warm up in a lot of our classes… start by rubbing the hands together, work your way up your arms, perhaps up to the head, rub tummies and, therefore, breakfast, go down the legs and tickle feet if you can reach. You can make the rub as long or short as you wish by extending the time on each body part or by using more or less body parts. You could also adapt this by circling the joints instead or by changing the rub into a sweeping action to get imaginary sand, water or sequins etc. off the body. It’s a great way to learn about body parts too.

The rub is just one idea, we offer Fun Fizz training for school staff and you can find out more HERE.

number-2-clipart-dc6aeamc9Sky Writing
This is drawing giant, imaginary letters and words in the air in front of you. It helps to develop the muscles, balance and co-ordination needed to write in a fun way and can be done in any part of the day. Once you’ve introduced a little sky writing you can quickly bring it into other lessons. Perhaps numbers in maths or sky writing key words in science. In the extreme you could do a whole dance lesson about sky writing! Try a free improvised warm up around the room where children spell their names or other key words. They can make up their own motifs using key words and the teacher could choreograph a ‘chorus’ to go between each group’s word motif. The possibilities are endless!

At The Right Step we believe that every move counts. This mostly applies to our Active Armchairs classes, but when it comes to writing and developing the skills and muscles needed to earn a pen licence, it is also relevant! Find out more about how gross motor skills and core strength affect writing HERE.

number-3-clip-art-at-clker-com-vector-clip-art-online-royalty-free-j2uq8g-clipartThe Boring Queue
Turn queuing into a learning opportunity.
‘I would like everyone to stand like a penguin when we line up and then we will waddle to the classroom.’
IMG-20160302-WA0006‘I would like everyone to do their favorite stretch and reach as we move back to the classroom.’
‘We are going to move back to the classroom as if we were solid particles (stucktogether and moving as one) / liquid particles (slightly faster and more random than solid) / as gas particles (possibly only useful for a short distance where you won’t crash into anyone coming the other way!)
‘We are going to do the step together, step sequence we learnt in our Tudor dance class all the way back to the classroom.’

number_4_orange_tA Dance Mnemonic
Mnemonic make difficult things such as sequences of planets or the number of days in a moment easier to remember. A lot of children would benefit from movement mnemonics. These could accompany common mnemonics or you could make something up.

For example, when spelling biscuit, you can support children to remember the ‘cu’ part of biscuit by thinking about ‘a cup of tea and a biscuit’. Dancing the drinking from the cup and the eating of the biscuit could emphasise the point.

5Dance Out The Door
At the end of the day, give your class a theme and ask them to dance out the door. You could do this to improve vocabulary and, for example, ask them to dance joyfully out the door. You can use this as a learning opportunity within your current topic and ask them to dance out the door in the way they think something or someone would move. They could move like a predator, a rain forest animal or a Victorian in their historic clothing. You could bring science in and ask them to move like some one on the moon or as though they were moving through chocolate, sand or water. They might do this individually, in small groups, as a guessing game or in one go, whatever is appropriate for your class.
Hopefully these ideas give you a starting point for what could be a much more energetic and exciting way of learning and working. It’s not always possible to move and learn, but it should be possible to fit something extra in at least once a day.

Further information that could be useful… I wrote a blog about the Government’s guidelines with regards to movement in schools earlier in 2018. You can read it here: http://www.therightstepdc.co.uk/2018/03/14/government-funding/ 

 

 

 

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Government Funding

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As the Government has promised funding for PE and Sport will last longer and to better effect, I’ve decided to explore how The Right Step’s dance classes and teacher training specifically relate to government guidelines and the 5 key indicators. Click HERE to see the guidelines that I’ve referred to below. I’ve also added some links to useful websites that talk further about dance and movement in the curriculum.

Schools must use the funding to make additional and sustainable improvements to the quality of PE and sport you offer.

The Right Step’s dance artists (known as TRS Teachers) are all highly trained and regularly take part in Continued Professional Development (CPD). They also have the backing of the company and their peers to support them. The quality of all TRS dance classes is high and we are always working to improve everything we do.

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We also offer CPD for primary schools staff (predominantly teachers and HLTAs) so that they can deliver dance themselves, as a team. This raises the standard of dance throughout the school in one go. Although dance wouldn’t be an additional part of the curriculum (it is already an essential part), our cross-curricular approach gives staff the confidence, skills, tools and opportunity to provide dance classes more often because pupils learn as they dance.

 

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We offer dance throughout the school day with extra curricular classes taking place before school, at lunch and after school and cross-curricular classes happening during the day. This means schools are able to provide dance for more pupils, building on previous capacity.

The guidelines give 5 key indicators “that schools should expect to see improvement across” and refer to the Chief Medical Officer’s recommendation that children and young people engage in at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day. 30 minutes of this should be within school time.

A varied programme of extra-curricular dance for each key stage and cross-curricular dance for each year group (we can deliver this approach in the EYFS as well as KS1 and 2) provides the opportunity for schools to boost the amount of time pupils spend doing physical activity without taking time away from learning.

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Every TRS Teacher has different experiences and training so we can offer many different dance styles as well as some fitness classes. In the extreme, pupils can experience Gumboot dance from Africa one term and Tudor Dance the next. A broader range of experiences is available to pupils because the TRS team can work together to provide it. For more information click HERE to read about some of the other dance styles we have on offer.

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Although we don’t offer dance competitions (competitive sport is part of the guidelines) because we have a participatory approach within the company, the profile of physical education can be raised across the school with performances. Pupils can take part in assemblies, school fairs, when filmed in class (we have been part of online advent calendars in the past!) and performances for parents.

This is just a quick overview of how our provision relates specifically to the guidelines. One Dance UK have written a more in depth study about “Delivering Dance Through The PE and Sport Premium Funding”

http://www.onedanceuk.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Delivering-dance-through-the-PE-and-Sport-Premium-funding.pdf

http://www.onedanceuk.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Delivering-dance-through-the-PE-and-Sport-Premium-funding.pdf

What Works: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/what-works-in-schools-to-increase-physical-activity-briefing

Everybody Active: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/everybody-active-every-day-a-framework-to-embed-physical-activity-into-daily-life

For further information about how we can provide dance in your school please send me an email, rebecca.ashton@therightstepdc.co.uk

 

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