There are SO many great props that can be used in dance class, to enhance the learning process, engage the students, and promote creativity. Maybe you've used ribbons, sheer scarves, bean bags and hula hoops........
But have you ever used BALLOONS as a part of your lessons?
I use plain, old birthday party balloons that I just blow up myself or with a small hand pump. (I usually buy the mixed packs from Target, Walmart, or Party City).
Are you thinking, "Corey, there is NO way I can use balloons in my class! The kids would go wild and it would be a free-for-all!!"?
But I am here to tell you -- it CAN be done! (and it is super fun!)
I will admit -- as with some other super fun dance props -- you DO have to prep your students in advance about your expectations, so that fun and learning can be had by all. But, even my youngest 2.5 year old dancers are able to cooperate and dance nicely with their balloons, with the right amount of set-up.
Let's start with some great ways to use the balloons, and then we'll go over some ways that have worked for me, when setting up the balloon expectations.
WAYS TO USE BALLOONS IN PRESCHOOL & ELEMENTARY DANCE CLASSES
Self-control with something so enticing, like a balloon, is TOUGH for little kids! But it can be done -- they can handle it, with the proper set-up and with practice. In fact, you have probably practiced it with them, every time you pass out a scarf or hula hoop in class. Here's the gist of what I say to get them ready!
"Ok dancers! Do you see what I have here? Yes! Balloons! So that we can have fun with the balloons, we have to follow some rules. Uh-oh......if we can't all follow our balloon rules, we'll have to put them away and try again another day. That would be sad! I think you can do it, don't you?!"
#1 - Hold onto your balloon!! First we're going to dance with it MY WAY, and then I promise, you will get time to dance with it YOUR WAY!
#2 -- Can you be SO gentle with my balloons? Thank you! That way the dancers in other classes can use them too!
Then, I might ask the dancers to "stand like a statue" in a position of my choice, like 1st position, while I pass out the balloons. We then go through the exercise I want them to work on, while holding the balloons.
Then comes REWARD time! Depending on your group, and what you think they can handle, you could have them freestyle dance with their balloons, in any way they want, all at the same time OR you could have them wait at the side of the room, and dance across the floor, keeping the balloon in the air, 2-3 dancers at a time.
Here is the main BALLOON REWARD TIME EXPECTATIONS I like to set up, before we go into the freestyle balloon dancing:
I ask them this question -- "Dancers, what if I let go of my balloon, and somebody picks it up instead?? Should I get really mad? Should I start crying or fight over the balloon?". I do this with a silly, pouty face, and they always answer me right away with an enthusiastic, "NO! Just pick up a different balloon!!". Then, I say, "Oh yes, GOOD IDEA!!". Then, before I press play on the music, I put a few extra balloons on the ground, so there is always an extra one at the ready.
CLEAN UP TIME
I keep a few large mesh laundry bags at my studio, specifically for balloon days. I will tell my dancers that the freestyle dancing will end in 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1! Then I say, "Can you please bring me your balloon? Let's see if they all fit in this bag!"
These methods may seem like A LOT, but talking to the kids about what is expected and what might possibly happen, really helps my classes to run smoothly, with our without props. It allows us to have fun with all different kinds of props or manipulatives.
I hope this works for you, and you give balloon fun a try!
Oh, wait -- here's one more BALLOON BONUS!
If you host dance birthday parties, then you'll want to keep reading. Balloons are my go-to icebreaker for dance birthday parties!
Dance birthday party guests are often not dance students. For them, walking into the dance studio can feel intimidating or scary. Balloons to the rescue!!! I like to begin each party with balloons scattered all over the floor of my space, with a fun kid-friendly pop playlist playing. As the guests arrive, they can play with the balloons, trying to keep them in the air or volleying them to each other. Once everyone is there, we begin the main part of the party. If the party guests are elementary age, I might do balloon relay races. If the party guests are preschool age, I like to do a balloon freeze dance, where they have to grab their balloon and freeze it when the music stops. I use the same set-up, expectations, and clean-up methods that I use in class.
Other resources that might interest you!
My Love & Friendship Themed Hooray For Dance Notebook has done-for-you preschool dance combos, and this particular pack has a section using BALLOONS!
Want some other dance birthday party resources to keep your party on track, to keep your guests having fun, and to make your birthday dancer feel special? Check out my Best Birthday Ever planner packs!