Dancing Activities for Preschoolers

by Stacey Chaloux, Demand Media
    Dancing is always fun, but it can be educational too.

    Dancing is always fun, but it can be educational too.

    You have probably noticed that even from a very young age, your child was drawn to music and began to move to the beat when he heard it. The National Association for the Education of Young Children explains that children "delight in exploring the world and expressing their ideas and feelings through movement." There are also many cognitive and social benefits of dancing for preschoolers, so find ways to incorporate music and movement into your daily routine. Your child will be learning in a new and different way, and you can't help but have fun dancing together.

    Freeze Dance

    Sparkplug Dance names enhanced listening skills as one of the benefits of dancing with preschoolers, and what parent doesn't want her child to listen better? One way to ensure that children are paying attention and listening to the music is to play a game of freeze dance. Tell your preschooler she may dance however she wants while the music is playing, but she must be absolutely still once the music stops. Play music of any kind and turn it off occasionally. Dance along with her and "freeze" in all sorts of silly poses when the music stops. This kind of dancing will not only help her listen, but it will also help to develop her self-control -- because it is hard to keep still when all you want to do is dance.

    Fast and Slow

    Children can also enhance their listening skills by exploring different rhythms and interpreting different types of music through their movements. For example, when you play a song with a fast tempo, ask your preschooler to move his body quickly, and then follow up with a slow song and see if he changes the way he is moving. Point out how the songs sound different and ask him to describe the differences. When you connect movements with language, you are helping him build thinking skills.

    Animal Actions

    The NAEYC also recommends encouraging children to explore movement with open-ended prompts. Additionally, the National Dance Education Organization states that children primarily learn through physical and sensory experiences and should be presented with opportunities for the selection of movement choices. For example, you can ask your preschooler to dance like a cat, a snake or an elephant. Have her decide how that animal would move to the music that is playing. Allow her to be creative and let her know there are no wrong answers in how she chooses to dance.

    Body Parts

    Dancing helps preschoolers develop body awareness and coordinate all of their body movements, according to Sparkplug Dance, and it can also be a tool to help them discover how each of their body parts work. Dance and sing songs that ask your child to touch or move a specific part of their body, like "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" or "I'm a Little Teapot." You can also have her pretend to "glue" one part of her body to the floor and continue dancing. For example, if her hands are stuck to the floor, what other parts of her body can she still move? She will have fun watching you try to do these challenges with her, so get moving and make some memories.

    About the Author

    Stacey Chaloux is an educator who has taught in both regular and special education early childhood classrooms, as well as served as a parent educator, teaching parents how to be their child's best first teacher. She has a Bachelor of Science in education from the University of Missouri and a Master of Education from Graceland University.

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