Thursday, March 22, 2018

Reinforcing Number Sense and Counting with a Multi-Layered Dance Activity

In my last blog post, I created a basic movement lesson about letter knowledge (letter shapes and sounds), making words and sentences, and exploring sequencing and word meanings. Dance helps to make the learning of these concepts a fun and lively experience.

So for this post I decided to create a similar multi-layered activity exploring number sense and counting, filled with lots of large motor-skill practice.

A few things to keep in mind about this movement activity:

  • Before we begin, it is important to note that the kinesthetic exploration of numbers is what is important in this activity.  Whether or not he accomplishes the exact number shape, it is the child's recognition of the number, his attempts to make the shapes with his body, and exploring new ways to move that are the valuable learning experiences. 

  • Because most numbers are asymmetrical, don't worry if the number the child makes in his body is backward or forward or upside down!  The child is still learning the shape of the number kinesthetically.  

  • Also, encourage the child to make whole body shapes, and not shapes with just the hands and fingers.

Dancing About Numbers!

Time of Activity:  20-30 Minutes

Materials:  The numbers 0-9 written on separately on paper, or number flash cards; and a large, open space, if available

Music:  A lively instrumental selection; and a tambourine or drum, if available

Up and Down: 

To warm up and start the counting fun, ask the children to go from standing to sitting in 10 counts.  Have the children count along with you.  Now come up to standing in 9 counts.  Repeat this until the children are coming up from the floor in one count, and repeat the "1" count several times as the children go up and down, finishing on the floor.

Counting as we go up and down!

Rocket Ship:  

Now to practice counting backward, ask them to crouch low and imagine they are a rocket ship.  Count backwards from 10 slowly, and give the children a chance to "fly through space" after they have blasted off.  Repeat several times, to reinforce the backward counting.
Getting ready to blast off!

Make Number Shapes with Your Body: 

Hold up the flash card of the number "0."  Say the name of the number, and ask the children to repeat it.  Then ask the children to make that number using their whole body.  Remind them that they can try the number standing, sitting, lying down, or even jumping in the air.

Do the same with each number.  Practice these in order until the children can make each number without needing the visual cue of the numbers you are holding.  Then try calling out the numbers in random order.

Make Number Shapes in Sequence:

Using a drum, tambourine, or just clapping your hands, now call the numbers out one after the other from 0-9, in order, on each beat or clap.  Ask the children to make the shape as you name each number.  Start out slowly, and increase the speed as the children become more efficient at responding.  When you have done it as fast as they can respond, ask them to freeze in the shape of the number "9."  Then ask them to melt to the floor holding the shape as long as they can, and then make the shape of the number 9 on the floor.

Numbers in the Air:

Hold up the numbers one by one.  Ask the children to imagine they are holding an imaginary crayon and to write each number in the air.

Number Paths:

Hold up the numbers one by one again.  Ask the children to walk the path of each number on the floor, imagining they have paint on the bottoms of their shoes.

Number Code Dance

This activity will help children remember the value of the numbers 1-5. 

Here is the Number Code:

1 = 1 Hop
2  = Go down to the floor, and back up
3 = 3 Turns
4 = 4 Jumps
5 = 5 Marches

Prompt the children to try out the movements associated with each number above, first in order, then mixing up the order.

Tell them that they are going to put some of the numbers together to make a number dance. 

Let's do a 1 - 3 - 5 dance.  What would that look like?  Can you try it on your own?  (The dance should be 1 hop, 3 turns, and 5 marches).  Once they have tried to figure it out on their own, ask everyone to do it together. 

How about a 1 - 2 - 5 - 1 dance (1 hop, down to the floor and up, 5 marches, 1 hop).

Let's do a 4 - 3 - 2 dance!  (4 jumps, 3 turns, down to the floor and back up).

Now we will finish with a 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1 dance!
Free dance and number shapes!

Dance and Freeze:

To reinforce all of the number shapes they have practiced, play the instrumental musical selection.  Ask the children to dance freely while the music is playing.  Stop the music randomly, call out a number, and ask them to freeze in that shape.

Keep on dancin' (and having fun with numbers!),


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