NJMEA Dances & Singing Games for K-2

Dances & Singing Games Grades K-2 – Room 302 • p. 1 of
New Jersey MEA Conference • Atlantic City, NJ
Friday, February 21, 2020 • 3:45 – 4:45 pm

Here is the handout I put up in the Conference website.

Highland Gates
Great for starting a community dance; folks can join in as they arrive. We like the moment where it is challenging for the outside circle to enclose the increasing number of dancers in the middle.

These next three movement/chants are engaging and calming for young children.  You can repeat them week after week.
The Sun Is In My Heart
motions to the chant. We do it regular, small, teensy, big/loud, and silently.
Tiny Little Mousie
 – one hand curls to be the little housie, the other hand’s pointer finger is the tiny little mousie.
Here’s the Little GirlThe Little Girl is index finger of one hand. The Bed is the other hand, palm up, the Pillow: curl thumb onto palm, Little Head: put the index finger of the other hand onto the pillow & bed of the palm-up hand, Little Blanket: wiggle the fingers (not the thumb) of the bed hand, “pull it up tight”: roll fingers of Bed hand over onto the index finger that lays on that hand.

Sleeping Bunnies
Children never tire of this. Like “Hunt the Cows” and “Ring Around the Rosie” it gives them a chance to go between jumping/dancing, and collapsing onto the floor. I always do one “flop on the floor, get up, flop on the floor, get up” singing game every time I work with young children.

Form the Corn
Great for all ages, all times, all situations. The music teacher at our grandson’s elementary school does this often with the whole K-5 school at the weekly all-school-sing.

Here We Go Riding Our Ponies
This is very engaging particularly for nursery school, pre-K and kindergarten. We love how this teaches a polite way to greet someone – eye contact and the handshake.

Come Along Everybody
Another great singing game for a wide age range, say, ages 2-8. The motions can be age appropriate, e.g. “here’s my eye” for 2-year-olds, “roar like a dragon” for 4-year-olds, “jump on one foot” for 6-year-olds.

Old Brass Wagon
The perfect first circle-of-partners dance for young children. Do it as a singing game and make up the motions. When I use the recording from our “Down in the Valley” collection I say “Just do exactly what Mary Alice says”, and I, dancing with the students, pretend I do not know what is coming next so that the children listen to Mary Alice (on the recording) rather than getting their cues by watching me.

Going to Alberta
Second grade & up. Teaches the ballroom position (“face your partner, stick out your inside arm towards the middle of the circle. Put that hand against your partner’s hand. Put your other hand on your partner’s shoulder.”) and the polka.

Kindergarten Reel/Virginia Reel
The singing game “Bobolinka” from our “Rise Sally Rise” collection, is a great first partner longways dance for young children. The “Kindergarten Reel” is a great first partner-longways-dance-to-music.  You can play the music for this or write me an email amidonpeter@gmail.com and I will send you the mp3 for the recording we made for “Kindergarten Reel.  Once you have done the Kindergarten Reel a few times, put on a recording of your favorite jig medley and do the Virginia Reel; almost exactly the same dance as Kindergarten Reel: forward & back, one hand around, two hands around, dosido, then the top couple sashaying down and back and casting (alone) around the outside to the bottom.

Noble Duke of York
Simple way to teach the cast off: Everyone except the top and bottom couple leave the set. Bottom couple make an arch. Top couple demonstrate casting off and down the outside, taking partner’s hand before coming up through the arch back to the top. Have all the other couples come back to place and simply follow the active couple in the cast off and through the arches back to place.  THEN do it the correct way: Top couple lead all the dancers in a cast off and when the Top couple reaches the bottom then they make an arch and the 2nd couple are the first ones through the arch and up to the top of the set.
When the top couple sashays to the bottom and back, make sure they phrase the sashay down and back up with the music rather than sashaying only to the bottom of the set. Usually that means they will sashay down past the bottom couple before they return.
Have that top couple transition smoothly without stopping from their sashay up to their leading a skipping cast off.  Others start their skipping right out of the “I was neither up nor down” jump.

One of the most engaging-for-all-ages-and-all-times dances we know.

Blaydon Races
From our “Chimes of Dunkirk” collection, but I taught you the 1st grade version:
A1: Forward and back
Forward and back again, but finish facing partner and holding two hands.
A2: Moving in: step, together, step, together
Moving out: step, together, step, together
B1: Two hand turn with partner (a long two hand turn in one direction, or a shorter two hand turn to the left and then a two hand turn to the right)
B2: “Open like a book” and promenade partner with handy hands (Left partner’s right hand in Right partner’s left hand).
After doing this for a week or so you might add the progression: at B1 everyone pass right shoulders with partner onto a new partner for the two hand turns.