Saturday, March 22, 2014

Dance Energizers! Four Brain Break Movement Activities

Spring is here!  Doesn't it make you want to jump for joy and shake off those winter blahs? Here are four energizes for children -- short movement activities that can do double, and even triple duty.  They are brain breaks, they can get the heart and muscles revved up, and they can address developmental and academic benchmarks all in one fell swoop.


Materials:  Bag of found objects -- Place 8 or 10 small items that evoke movement, such as a top, a plastic grasshopper, a Koosh ball (pictured), a candle, a feather, a stretchy band, a spring, a pipe cleaner, a bouncy ball, a snow globe, etc.
Space:  This activity can be done in a large space or can be performed in place.
Concepts addressed include listening to and following directions, recognizing and incorporating different movement qualities into the body, age-appropriate motor skills, creativity, vocabulary


Pull the first object (for example, the top) out of the bag.  Ask the students, What is this?  How does it move?  Watch while it spins.  Can you move like a top?  What does the top do when it stops spinning? Can you fall on your side like the top?  Pull out the next object, discuss its properties, ask the children to move like the object, and continue through your collection.  

Found Objects

To conclude the activity, ask each child to dance like the object that was their favorite.  Or, put on some lively music, and ask the children to do a free dance using movement ideas from all of the objects.


Materials:  A musical selection, or a tambourine or drum
Space:  This activity can be done in a large space, either indoors or outside, or can be performed in place
Concepts addressed include listening to and following directions, creativity, age-appropriate motor skills, body control


The directions for this are very simple, but they can be expanded to make the activity more challenging.

Begin by asking the children to move any way they wish while the music is playing (or you are beating the tambourine or drum), but when the music stops, they must freeze.

Build on this activity by asking them to stop in different shapes:  The next time you freeze, balance on one foot!

Other suggestions include: freeze in  a twisty shape, a wide shape, a low shape, an upside down shape, a shape that has three body parts touching the floor, etc.  Finish the activity by asking the children to freeze in a silly shape while making a face.

Dance and Freeze


Materials:  Scarves or streamers of different colors; an upbeat musical selection
Space: This activity can be done in a large space or can be modified and performed in place, inside or outdoors
Concepts addressed include listening to and following directions, group interaction, creativity, age-appropriate motor skills, body control

Dance and Stop with Props

This activity is a further expansion of the previous one, Dance and Freeze.  


Each color streamer will represent a specific movement instruction.  For example:  

  • Green:  March
  • Red:  Skip (for five+ years old) or gallop 
  • Blue:  Move in slow motion
  • Yellow:  Move in the low space
  • Purple:  Flowing, turning movement

Make sure that the children understand the instructions.  If the children are very young, choose two different colors/movements, and add more if the children are ready for this challenge.  

Pass out the streamers, and play the music.  When the music stops, the children freeze.  Repeat this several times, and then on the next freeze, ask the children to trade for a different color streamer, and they will then do the appropriate movement represented by the color of their new streamer. 

Other examples of movement ideas to expand the activity:

  • Hop or jump
  • Tiptoe
  • Baby steps
  • Giant steps
  • Shake
  • Axial movement (move as if on an axis -- turn, jump, go up and down, move limbs, but stay in one spot)
  • Walk in an uneven rhythm
  • Move like a robot
  • Move like a rag doll
  • Let the children think of more ideas!


Materials:  Pom-Poms if available, music with a conga beat -- Examples: 1.  Do the Conga, TPH Productions,  Children's Party;  2.  Shakers, Debbie Clement, Debbie's Ditties 4 Come Dance S'More! (or the instrumental version, in the CD included with my book, One, Two, What Can I Do?  Dance and Music for the Whole Day)
Space: Enough space for the children to dance in a line, inside or outdoors
Concepts addressed include hearing rhythms and then translating them into movement, spatial and body awareness, motor skills, counting

Conga Line!


Teach the conga rhythm:  
The conga rhythm is four counts, with the first three being soft, and the fourth accented:  soft, soft, soft, loud . . . soft, soft, soft, loud . . . soft, soft, soft, loud.

Try it with clapping:  three claps, and then a loud accent clap.

Try it with stomping:  Three quiet stomps and then a loud one.  

Now you can play with this rhythm.  Line the children up, and have them follow you in this rhythm, as you walk:  three quiet stomps and one loud, repeating it until they feel comfortable with this rhythm.

Now try different ideas to accent the fourth beat:  a small bent-leg kick on count 4, raising one or two arms on count 4, make a face on count 4, freeze on count 4, or freeze in a funny shape on count 4.

Try the above variations with music.  

Pass out the pom-poms, and try the above ideas using this prop.

Take your conga line down the hall for a fun transition to another activity, or outside for recess!

Happy Spring, and

Keep on Dancin'!

Connie Bergstein Dow

©2014 Connie Bergstein Dow

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