No matter which holiday your dance students celebrate, there's a way to have festive fun this month!
Welcome to my 5-part series on how to infuse the magic and excitement of the season into your classes, while at the same time making every child feel included. Let's start with candy canes!
Candy canes are for everyone! They are sold around Christmastime, but at their essence, candy canes are a just yummy treat that all kids can enjoy. Here are 4 fun and easy ways to use the imagery of candy canes in your classes, today!
Play the Candy Cane Balance Game
During warm-ups, while their arms are extended side in 2nd position, hang a candy cane on each student's hand, They must keep their arms strong to keep it balanced! Reward -- they get to take the candy cane home!
Candy Cane Relay
Instead of passing a baton, pass a candy cane! Set your dancers up to practice any skill or combo across the floor, with the next person ready on the opposite side. Dancer 1 should travel across while holding the candy cane, and then pass it to dancer 2. Dancer 2 then starts the combo traveling back the other way, and passes the candy cane to dancer 3, and so on!
Candy Cane Jane
A super cute and done-for-you preschool tap routine that is easy to teach? Yes, please! Teach part of this routine as a mini class combo or as a holiday dance for your studio's viewing week. Either way, you can't lose, especially since it is on sale for 80% off through December 2023. Grab your copy (which includes teacher notes and a full video demonstration) for just $2, by clicking the picture below!
If you are already a Tap Teacher Member, this game is included in your Tap Lesson Plan Membership -- check your portal! Find out more about being a Tap Teacher Member, here!
Peppermint Hot Chocolate
This dance game will help your students think about dance as something beyond the steps they learn in class, by helping them create their own artistic movement in a low-pressure way. For $7, you'll get the newly updated print-and-play game for tweens and teens that you can use for years to come. Click the picture below for details!
If you believe that tap class is a powerful tool for every dancer, then I am right there with you! When I was growing up, tap class was the only option offered to the preschoolers at the studio I attended. Ballet and jazz were reserved for ages 6 & up, but we could begin tap at 3 years old. It was the first class I took, and it is the style of dance I have loved ever since.
Looking back, it is easy to see all the benefits that tap had on my training, and how tap informed everything I did as a dancer. Tap taught me to:
Did I know any of that, at 3 years old (or even 13 years old, for that matter)? Nope. But I did know this ---
Tap dance made me feel good. Tap dance was something I could feel with my body, see with my eyes, and hear with my ears all at the same time.
In 25 years of teaching, tap has always been on my roster and I have had the pleasure of seeing how tap class has positively affected my students of all ages, in every style of dance that they take. Here are the benefits I've seen, in action!
For preschool age dancers, tap class provides:
For elementary age dancers, tap class:
For middle school and high school dancers, tap class:
Not everyone is going to love tap the way you do (and that's ok!). But I am on the pro-tap bandwagon, because in the same way that classical styles of dance train the body to move well across all dance forms, tap dance has the same power to positively transform the whole dancer (and the whole person, for that matter)!
I am sharing link to the Benefits of Tap poster with you, so that you may share it and spread the love and benefits of tap in your own community. Hang it in your studio or post it on your social media to help promote the benefits of tap!
Do you believe in magic?
The amazed and joyful looks on your students' faces, the first time they hear the sounds that their shoes can make? That's magic!
A room full of eager dancers, excited, engaged and ready to learn? That's magic!
Having a system and structure for tap class that:
Now, that's A LITTLE BIT OF TAP DANCE MAGIC!
A Little Bit of Tap Dance Magic is a tap lesson plan system that ready to grow with you, and your dancers, as they progress from preschool tap students to elementary age. It is rooted in child-development as well as solid foundational tap dance skills and concepts, and it was created from the lessons I've taught (and the lessons I've learned in my dance room) over 25+ years of teaching dance.
THE MAGIC ELEMENT
The magic in each lesson is the playful feel that is the driver of each technique or rhythmic exercise. Getting better at any tap skill requires repetition. The A Little Bit Of Tap Dance Magic lesson plans help you sprinkle MAGIC into every class by making the students so involved in the theme and the fun elements that they forget they are reviewing so they can focus on (and get excited about) progress.
TAKE THE GUESSWORK OUT OF WHAT TO TEACH WHEN
The lesson plans taking out the guesswork of what to teach when by building one skill on the next, and naturally breaking down harder skills into bite-size snippets that grow with each other. The lessons can be put together to create a school-year length system, and they are also flexible enough to stand alone and be used in conjunction with your current curriculum.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT IN THE LESSONS?
These lesson plans use engaging themes to "tap" into imagination while working on tap dance skills, motor tools, rhythm patterns, musicality and more. The skills and combos in each are designed to step-up with your dancers, as the school-year dance season progresses. The lessons for ages 3-5 coordinate with the lessons for ages 5-7, so that if you are teaching both age groups, it is easy to stick with the theme as you transition from class to class.
WHAT IF I HAVE DIFFERENT LEVELS WITHIN EACH CLASS?
No problem! There are many options for different skill levels within each group. You could adjust the pacing you use to teach the exercise, simplify a combo, or adjust the tempo.
WHAT DO I GET?
Each lesson plan includes:
So where to begin?
Well, at TAP DANCE CENTRAL of course! Click this link to see the lesson plan offerings, the suggested class order, and an opportunity to SAVE and become a member!
Do you have questions about the A Little Bit of Tap Dance Magic system? Send them my way!
It's FALL! My favorite season! Trees, leaves, cool crisp days!
For young dancers, it can be really fun to include things from the outside world in dance class too -- and autumn has so many sights, sounds, and ideas that can come to life through imagination in dance class.
If you have not already -- head on over to my Instagram and check out the 30 DAYS of FALL DANCE FUN series. For the entire month of October, I am sharing one fun Fall idea per day that you can include in your dance classes.
So far we've been inspired by pumpkins, apples, the wind, and books about fall.
Today's thought - TREES - is extra special for this reason; it is an idea you can also incorporate into your classes for older teen dancers to, to inspire creativity, rooted-ness, and a growth mindset (pun intended!). Get the worksheets and movement cards for elementary, middle, and high school age dancers here!
Do you have a special way you begin every dance class? Maybe a greeting, a hello song, or a specific warm-up that you do?
Rituals can provide kids a sense of security and comfort, making dance class feel like a safe and predictable place.
Wrapping up your class with a special ritual can be just as beneficial. Your end-of-class tradition can give your dancers an opportunity to reflect on the work they did in class that day, build confidence and self-esteem, and promote kindness and compassion for themselves as well as their classmates and teachers.
But, let's face it -- dance class can be hectic! You only have your dancers for a short period of time each week, and you have to usher one group of kids out of the room, while welcoming the next batch in right away. So, what to do?
Try these easy-and-quick-to implement tips, for creating your own class-ending rituals in UNDER 30 SECONDS!
CLAP FOR THE CLASS, PAT ON THE BACK
If a curtsy or bow at the end of class is not your cup of tea --- it is not mine -- then try this alternative! In under 30 seconds, you can reinforce dance class manners, as well as kindness towards oneself and others!
Chant aloud together:
CLAP FOR THE CLASS! (everyone claps)
PAT ON THE BACK! (pat yourself on the back)
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU (point to each other)
(Click here to see a video of this ritual in action)
I will use this quick ending for my preschool age dancers as well as for my young elementary age students.
For tap classes ages 8 & up, I employ what I call the "tap clap" method -- in a a variety of ways! Gather in a circle at the end of class, and do any of the following --
HANDS IN THE MIDDLE
Gather in a circle at the end of class, and ask everyone to put one hand in the center. You can then give your class a quick positive encouragement or reminder, like "Your hard work today impressed me - I can't wait to see more next week!", and then on the count of the 3, the whole class can shout "Thank You" as you lift your hands up together.
HIGH-FIVE OUT THE DOOR
After your class is finished, you can stand at the exit door, while your dancers gather their belongings. Then, high-five them each on their way out the door, while you both say thank-you to each other. Bonus points if you are able to throw in a "good job on ____ this week!"!
COOL DOWN COMMUNICATION
Although this idea might be too time-intensive for every week, you could do a little circle chat with your students once a month, once a session, or once a semester. As you stretch or cool-down together, you could ask them to share one thing that they liked about class that day (or about what they did/achieved that day) as well as one thing that is on their "wish list" for class in the future (or a goal that they have for themselves).
What we say matters, and what we model for our dancers matters too. I notice that my dancers leave happier and with more smiles when we do a special class ending.....and to me, that is the best reason to do it!
Share your class rituals with me in the comments, and let me know how these work for you!
Is your back-to-dance season in full swing? Or is it just about to begin?
If updating your classroom tools is on your list, then you have come to the right place!
The teacher freebie I have for you today is like that famous quote, "a picture speaks a thousand words" -- but in this case, a picture can save you a thousand extra words and help you reach different kinds of learners!
Ways to Use the Dance Directions Cue Cards
Stop/Go Traveling Game
Have your dancers practice a traveling step across the floor. Just like the game Red Light Green Light, hold up the STOP sign and say "stop" when they should balance in place, and flip to the green GO sign and say "go" when they should move!
Print out extra Stop and Go signs to set up a traveling pathway on your floor. The dancers can start the step or combo at the green GO sign, travel all the way to STOP, and balance for 8 counts before starting again!
Or just use the Stop and Go Cue Card, to help let your dancers know when it is their turn to travel across the floor!
Shhh Emoji/Boombox -- Loud & Quiet Game
These cue cards are perfect for tap class! You can use them with your young dancers as they experiment with making any tap step loud or quiet. When they see the Quiet Emoji, they should make their taps as quiet as possible; when they see you hold up the loud boombox, they should turn up the volume of their taps!
For your older tap dancers, hold up the cue cards to help cue them as to when to use shading and dynamics in their tap choreography.
Popsicle Freeze/Disco Ball Dance -- Classic Freeze Dance
These two cue cards can be used during a classic game of freeze dance! The best part is that for your visual learners, when they see the picture change, it will help them remember to freeze or dance, along with the music. Freeze for the POPSICLE and dance on the DISCO BALL!
Kids can be chatty.....and tapping feet can be loud! The Shhhhh sign will be your go-to this season to kindly remind your dancers that you are waiting for them to stay quiet, to be able to hear your next directions.
Here's to a wonderful new dance season!
It's time to CELEBRATE! It's birthday time!
Have you ever considered offering dance birthday parties at your studio? Birthday parties = additional opportunities for revenue + introductions to new potential students too!
If dance birthday parties feel like uncharted territory to you - overwhelming and a little scary - you can breathe easy. I've got the ESSENTIAL tips to help you create SEAMLESS & SIMPLE parties, with repeatable steps that keep the party experience streamlined and consistent....leading to smiles, happy clients, and more referrals for you.
Let's get into it.
#1 -- PARTY PARAMETERS
Be clear about what you want to offer. There are no wrong answers here! You need to offer only what feels good to you, so that the party process is something that you can look forward to each time you get a booking, rather than something that feels like a burden.
Consider the questions below, as you plan your party offers.
How long do you want the entire party experience to be? What amount of time will be spent dancing; what amount of time on games?
Will you be allowing the birthday family to serve food? Pizza, dessert? If yes, where will you set up the tables and chairs? How much time will you allot to the food portion of your full party?
Will you provide the party decorations & tableware, or is the birthday family responsible for their own?
Do you want to provide goody bags? (This gives you the opportunity to add in a flyer with a discount code on classes for new students.)
How early do you want to allow the birthday family to arrive to set up for their party?
Do you want to offer your parties within a certain window of time only (for example, Sundays between 11am-4pm)?
Will you allow parents of the party guests to stay, or do you prefer drop-off parties?
#2 -- PARTY PRICING
Do some birthday party research! In your area, how much does a trampoline park charge for a birthday party? How about the gymnastics place, or the arcade? You need to charge the price that makes it worth it for you (take into consideration your cost to staff the party as well as the extra time for clean-up and set-up), but looking at how much a parent spends on an average birthday party will give you a good place to start when determining your prices. Do you want to offer tiered-pricing, where the party cost is different based on the number of guests? Do you want to offer a discount to the birthday party family, if the birthday child is enrolled in classes at your studio?
#3 -- PARTY PLANNING
Have a PLAN! Your birthday families can choose-their-own-adventure when it comes to the party theme, or you can ask that they pick from a list of party themes that you have available. It's really up to you!
I have found that when I ask the families to choose from a list of themes, it makes the party planning and execution so much faster! I have a party plan template for each theme -- each template lists many options for party activities within that theme, that can work for different age groups and experience levels. If a child has a specific party theme idea in mind, I will create it for them.....and then those party plans become a new template and theme to offer for future parties!
When you host a birthday party, some of the guests will be kids who are not used to a dance class setting -- which means that it is important to include dance-related activities that are not strictly dance, so that everyone can feel comfortable and have a good time!
I always include:
By having a party template, hosting a birthday party can be as easy as clockwork! Any energetic & enthusiastic member of my staff can step in and be ready to go to host the party.
You can get the exact themed party templates that I use, too! The BEST BIRTHDAY EVER PLANNERS are under $25 each, and they virtually pay for themselves in the planning time you save.....PLUS you can use the ideas at dance camp too!
Check them out!
It's important to give each student individual attention, right? To correct technique, to give positive feedback, and to offer the student the opportunity to celebrate their own growth..........But some students do not like being in the spotlight and they shy away when asked to perform a skill individually.
As a teacher, it can be like being stuck between a rock and a hard place -- how can you assess each student on their own, without making them feel singled out? How can you make every student comfortable with this process?
The NUMBER ONE thing that works for me?
It's a little game I call Pass It On -- here's how it works:
The dancers stand in a straight line, or in a circle, with the teacher as the starting point. Everyone practices the specific skill, demonstrated first by the teacher, and then each dancer gets to Pass It On to the person next to them, with any type of flair that they want! For example, after doing a clean shuffle hop step the dancer could do some jazz hands to pass it on, or a cross turn, or anything else that they want!
Thinking about the fun way they can pass it on helps my students to feel more at ease when it is their turn to do the step by themselves. If I need to make a correction, I'll first point out what I liked about how they executed the step ("your rhythm was right on!") and then offer what they need to fix ("can you try it one more time for me, making sure to use only your toe taps?"). Bonus - they get to pass it on again!
Pass It On makes individual assessments into a game and immediately takes the performance pressure off! I use this game most often in my tap classes for elementary age dancers, but it could be used in any style class.
I love sharing ideas that work for me -- join my TAP LIST today, to get even more tap class teaching tidbits emailed to you each week, for free!
Here's 3 no-cost ways that you can sprinkle some magic into your children's dance classes, using imagination to fuel technique and skills!
You need colorful sheer scarves OR pieces of construction paper in red, orange, yellow, green, blue & purple
Give each dancer a scarf or piece of paper, and ask them to practice drawing a rainbow shape with it, in an arc over their heads. You can ask them to lean or lunge side to side. Older dancers can use an overcurve motion with their rainbow prop, or an undercurve motion while making an upside-down rainbow. Then, create some rainbow art on the floor! Call out the colors in rainbow order and ask the dancers holding those colors to build a rainbow on the floor.
MAGIC DANCING DUST
All you need for this one is a little bit of imagination and a whole lot of silly!
Pretend that you have a big bag of imaginary "magic dancing dust" -- like fairy dust, but instead of making us fly, it makes us MAGICALLY dance! Give every child an imaginary handful and POOF! They're ready to dance and try something new with ease! If you are going to practice plie', sprinkle some magic dance dust on your knees first; to practice heel drops in tap class, be sure to sprinkle the dust on your heel taps for extra clear sounds!
Roll up a piece of white paper, beginning at the corner, so that is becomes a skinny cone. Add a few pieces of tape, and presto -- you have a unicorn horn! Make a bunch for your class to use, or just make one for them to take turns with.
Here is a unicorn-themed preschool ballet exercise, from my Hooray For Dance Magical Things Notebook, that is perfect for the paper unicorn horn! Click the picture below to save this combo and see a 60-second video demo!
I hope these ideas encourage some extra exploration during your already magical dance classes this week!
For me, one of the best things about being a dance teacher of preschool and kindergarten age students is this -- for 30 or 45 minutes at a time, I get to PLAY and PRETEND, right there with them!
I like to use a broad range of themes and ideas to dance about because, honestly, changing it up (beyond princesses and unicorns) is WAY more fun for me, as well as for them.
ANIMALS are a sure-fire theme that gets my students excited, and there are many different ways to explore this broad category.
Want to try out some animal ideas in your dance classes? Click the picture below to get a FREE copy of my top 4 animal themes, with more than 10 ideas to jumpstart your own animal lesson plan!
Teaching this age group also allows me to bring two of my favorite things together - DANCE & READING! When possible, I like to read a short book to my students to help them conceptualize and connect with our dance class theme.
Click the picture below for a list of 5 wonderful books about animals that dance & move, with links of where to purchase them or find them at your local library.
I have more ANIMAL themed resources for you too!
My Animal Theme Hooray for Dance Notebook has done-for-you preschool ballet, tap, and jazz combos, with song lists, detailed combos, short video clips, and visual aids for your class. Little Wild Ones has class exercises for parent-tot dance & young preschoolers; Animal Rhythms is a tap skill game for elementary age tap classes, and Animal Actions is a great game to build strength and work on motor tools for preschool & elementary age students. Musical Mud Puddles & Piggy & Friends Freeze Dance are perfect for class, a dance camp, or even a dance birthday party, and are a big hit for kids who love Peppa Pig!