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Inspire imagination and creative movement with the frog dance

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

Frog Dance

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

  1. Demonstrate locomotor and nonlocomotor movements that are big and small. (psychomotor)
  2. Remember and perform the sequence of actions used in dancing the story of the frog dance. (cognitive and psychomotor)
  3. Choose their favorite part of the frog story to dance. (affective)

Organization
Children dance individually among others in the class.
Equipment Needed

  • Pictures of frogs
  • The following list of words on a single sign or multiple signs in the following order (see figure 8.12; also found on the bound-in  CD-ROM in full-size posters):

Sleep
Wake up and look around
Stretch
Wave
Jump
Eat bugs
Jump
Sleep

  • Music of sounds of tropical forest or frog vocal sounds

Introduction and Warm-Up
Today, we are going to do a dance about the day in the life of a frog. I have placed some pictures of frogs on the wall. Can someone describe one of the frogs? Yes, Carly says that one is small and has red spots. [Ask several other children to share their descriptions.] Next, we need to warm up our frog bodies before we dance. Let’s start by walking in the space. Find a way to take very small steps as you walk forward, now backward. Change your steps to giant steps. How big can you step? Show me how you can do the smallest  stretch and bend movement with your body reaching up and down. Now what does that movement look like when you make it as big as you can? Who can tell me a movement they did this morning on their way to school? Yes, Anthony says he was swinging his  backpack while waiting for the school bus. Great! Everyone, show me a small swinging movement with your arms. Now make it a little bigger, now bigger, and now as big as you can. Okay, I think we are warmed up. Let’s find out what happens in the frog dance.
Development
While I tell the story, you can create your frog movements to go along with the story. I have posted the actions the frog will do in the story on the wall. Let’s read them: sleep, wake up, stretch, wave, jump, eat bugs, jump, sleep. [Point to each word.] First, each person find a personal space and lie on the floor. Now, I will begin the story. Once upon a time, there was a very small pond filled with very small frogs who were all sleeping on very small lily pads. [Children make a small shape curled up on the floor.] One morning, the little frogs woke up and looked around with their small heads. The frogs could only make little movements looking up and down and side to side. [Children sit on the floor and look up and down, right and left.] Then the frogs began to stretch, but they could only do
small stretches using their arms, legs, and back. [Children stretch arms, legs, and back, reaching up and down.] The small frogs stood up on the little lily pads and made a tiny wave to each other. [Children wave to each other using small waving movements.] Next, the little frogs decided to go out and find something to eat. So they did small jumps all over the pond. Some were jumping forward, some backward, and some sideward. [Children perform many small jumps in the space in different directions.] Then the frogs stopped and began to quickly grab tiny bugs to eat. They found bugs high over their head, behind them, out to the side, and low to the ground. [Children pretend to quickly grab bugs out of the air and place them in their mouth to eat.] Now the little frogs were very full from eating all those bugs, so they did small jumps back to their little lily pads and slowly went back to sleep. [Children jump back to the spot where they began the dance and curl up in a small shape on the floor as if they are sleeping.] That night, something strange happened to the little frogs. They grew bigger and bigger and bigger. [Children stretch out, changing from a small shape on the floor to a large stretched shape.] That morning, when the frogs woke up, they were very surprised to see how big they had become during the night. They sat up in a big stretched shape and looked around the pond that was also very big. They could look up and down and side to side using big head movements. [Children sit in a wide stretched shape with arms stretched out and move their heads up and down and side to side using big movements.] Then the frogs began to stretch, and because they were so big, they did big stretches using the arms, legs, and back. [Children perform big stretch movements with their arms, legs, and back.] The big frogs stood up on the huge lily pads and did a huge wave to each other. [Children wave to each other using big, exaggerated waving movements.] Next, the big frogs decided to go out and find something to eat. So, they did huge jumps all over the pond. Some were jumping forward,  some backward, and some sideward. [Children perform many big jumps in the space.] Then the frogs stopped and began to quickly grab huge bugs to eat. They found bugs high over their heads, behind them, out to the side, low to the ground. [Children pretend to grab bugs out of the air using two hands and place them in their mouths to eat.] Now the big frogs were so full from eating all those bugs that they did big jumps back to their huge lily pads and went back to sleep. [Children jump back to the spot where they began the dance and lie down in a large stretched shape on the floor as if they are sleeping.] That night, something strange happened to the big frogs. They began to shrink and became smaller and smaller and smaller. And for the rest of their lives, the frogs spent one day as a small frog and the next day as a big frog and then again as a small frog, and so on and so on and so on. The end.
Culminating Dance
This time you can choose which part of the frog dance you would like to do. The small frog dance is first and then the big frog dance is second. Those of you who want to do the little frog dance will find a place to start. This time I will not tell the story; you need to  remember all the parts by yourself. Those of you who are waiting to dance the big frog story can be the audience for the little frog dance, and then the little frog dancers will be the audience for the big frog dancers. When I put the music on, the little frogs can begin.
Closure
Ask, “Can someone who danced the part of the little frog tell me why you chose that part? Now can someone who danced the part of the big frog tell me why you chose to dance that part?”
Look for

  • Children who need a reminder to take off and land on two feet to perform a jump correctly and safely.
  • How well children move between each other while jumping in the pond and not bump into each other.
  • How well the children use light energy in the small movements and how they can isolate moving the small body parts such as hands, head, and feet.

How Can I Change This?

  • Add other events into the day in the life of the frog, such as swimming or lying on a rock and feeling the warm sun.
  • Change the story to the life of another animal, bird, or sea creature.
  • Ask children to dance with a partner like twin frogs moving in unison.

Assessment Suggestions

  • Teacher assessment—psychomotor: Observe to see whether students can perform the same movement sequence using small and then big movements. Do you observe students demonstrating a clear difference in the big and small sizes of the movement? (outcome 1)
  • Teacher assessment—cognitive and psychomotor: Observe during the culminating dance to see how many children can remember and perform all the parts of the dance. (outcome 2)
  • Student self-assessment—affective: Students identify and perform their preference to dance as the small frog or the big frog during the culminating dance. At the end of the performance, students share their reasons for why they preferred to dance as the small or the big frog. (outcome 3)

Interdisciplinary Connections

  • Language arts (reading): Read a story about frogs at the beginning of the learning experience, such as Frogs Sing Songs (Winer and Oliver 2003) or Hop Jump (Walsh 1993) or Jump, Frog, Jump (Kalan and Barton 1981).
  • Language arts (writing and reading): Children can write and read their own frog stories and then create a dance to reflect the actions in the story.
  • Math: Children can count the number of jumps or number of bugs they eat.
  • Theater arts: Children create costumes with scarves, paper streamers, or construction paper.

Learn more about Teaching Children Dance, Third Edition.