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Funky shape museum encourages peer involvement

This is an excerpt from Teaching Children Dance-3rd Edition by Theresa Purcell Cone & Stephen Cone.

Funky Shape Museum

As a result of participating in this learning experience, students will be able to do the following:

  1. Create and perform a variety of still shapes that use levels, range, direction, and different body parts for support. (cognitive and psychomotor)
  2. Observe and reproduce a variety of shapes created by their peers. (psychomotor)
  3. Move between the still sculptures using locomotor movements that travel in slow and fast tempos. (psychomotor)

Students will create and practice the shapes individually and then collaborate with a partner or small group to create group shapes.
Equipment Needed

  • MP3 or CD player
  • Music that has a slow tempo
  • Music that has a fast tempo

Introduction and Warm-Up
Today we are going on a visit to an imaginary funky shape museum. You will all have an opportunity to be a funky shape in the museum and a museum visitor. Has anyone been to a museum and seen still sculptures? Yes, Matt says that he's been to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and saw a metal sculpture that used old car parts. Matt, can you make your body or a part of your body in a shape you saw in the sculpture? [Student demonstrates what he observed. Ask one or two other students to share their observations of a sculpture.] Now, we are going to do a warm-up called stuck like glue. When I say go, you will skip forward on any pathway. When I say, “Stuck like glue,” you will connect to another person. Two or three people can be connected. I will call out the body part that gets stuck together. Ready? Stuck like glue with your elbow. Ready, now skip again on a straight pathway. Stuck like glue with a knee. This time skip backward. Stuck like glue with five toes and one finger. Now, skip on a curvy pathway, swinging your arms as big as you can. Stuck like glue with a shoulder and be in a stretched shape. Skip and add a turn. Stuck like glue with one person in a round shape and another person in a wide shape. Last time, skip and clap your hands. Stuck like glue in a twisted shape and connected by three body parts.
Now, you will create a variety of funky shapes. Each person find a personal space. I will call out a funky shape and you will have two seconds to quickly make your interpretation of the shape with your body. Stay in your personal space. Ready? Wide shape like a stretched piece of bubble gum. Hold it still. Great. Make a shape like a piece of clothing thrown down on the floor; go. Now, a shape like a pencil with a broken point. [Continue to offer ideas for shapes such as in the following list.]

  • A deflated basketball
  • A letter in your name
  • A giant balloon ready to burst
  • A flat pancake
  • A piece of gum stuck to a shoe
  • A backpack that is heavy on one side
  • A giant's sneaker that is untied

Now, I will organize you into groups of four or five. One person will be the funky shape teller and the others will make the shape. Each person takes two turns to tell the group what funky shape to make. [Students are organized and each person offers an idea for a funky shape for the group to complete.]
Culminating Dance
For our final dance, half of the class will be the statues in the funky shape museum and the other half will be the visitors. [Assign the students as statues and visitors.] First, the statues find a personal space and make a shape that you did when I called out a shape or you did in your group. Hold your shape still. Next, the visitors will use a locomotor movement as they move around and between the shapes. They will stop by a shape and make the same exact shape and hold still for 8 counts and move to another shape. Chris, show the class what you will do as a visitor. [Student models the visitor's role to clarify the task.] Ready, visitors all skip as you tour the museum. [Observe students as they travel through the statues and make shapes.] Great, now switch roles. The visitors become the statues and the statues are now the visitors. This time the visitors will jog at a medium speed. Ready, go. Everyone stop. Switch roles again. This time the visitors must move using slow motion as they walk through the museum. It is like time is distorted in the museum. This time the sculptures change slowly to another shape after a visitor has copied them for 8 counts. The sculptures change after each visitor. I will play slow music to help your movements stay slow. [Students perform this new part of the dance and then you announce to switch roles.] In the final dance, the visitors will move through the museum as fast as they can, and when they stop by a sculpture, they freeze. This makes the sculpture come alive, and now the sculpture becomes a visitor and the visitor is a sculpture. In this way the visitors and sculpture will keep changing places. I will play the fast music for this final part of the dance. Ready? Here we go.
Who can show us a shape and they created and
tell us what the shape represents? [Ask several students
to share their shapes with the class.]
Look For

  • When students are in the group and offering ideas for shapes, and they cannot think of what to say and may need a prompt.
  • Students who need a reminder to move slowly. Tell them to feel how slowly their muscles can move.
  • Students who move fast and are unable to stop quickly without falling or bumping into the sculpture.

How Can I Change This?

  • Use a category of shapes for the museum, such as the baseball player museum, the cartoon character museum, the monster museum, or the machine museum.
  • Sculptures can add a nonlocomotor movement to part of their body while in their shape.
  • Visitors can pretend to take a picture of the sculpture and then make the shape.
  • Visitors can move the hand of the sculpture into a different position.
  • Add a story to the dance. For example, the visitors fall asleep on the museum floor and the sculptures come alive and dance around the visitors, matching their sleeping shapes. Then when the visitors wake up, the sculptures are back in their original places.

Assessment Suggestions

  • Teacher assessment—cognitive and psychomotor: Use a checklist to assess whether students can create a body shape and hold it still for 8 counts. (outcome 1)
  • Peer assessment—psychomotor: While the visitor is making the sculpture shape, the sculpture looks to see how accurate the visitor's shape is and says “Okay” if the shape is correct or “Do again” if the shape is not correct. (outcome 2)
  • Student self-assessment—psychomotor: Students reflect on how well they were able to move slowly and fast using body control. At the end of the learning experience, ask the students to place two thumbs up if they were able to move slowly and quickly without falling down or bumping into another visitor or sculpture. One thumb up if they fell down or bumped into another person or sculpture. (outcome 3)

Interdisciplinary Connections

  • Visual art: Talk with the art teacher about books he or she could suggest on sculpture and share the books in class.
  • Visual art and language arts: Students can draw or write a description of a shape they created.
  • Language arts: Students can create a story about what happens to their sculpture when the museum closes at night.

Learn more about Teaching Children Dance, Third Edition.

More Excerpts From Teaching Children Dance 3rd Edition