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Year 1, Dance, Unit 2 Lesson 1

Learning Intentions

  1. Read the nursery rhyme and discuss its content and theme
  2. Children identify characters within the nursery rhyme
  3. Perform a series of character movements to the nursery rhyme

Skill Development: Perform actions that fit the nursery rhyme


Success Criteria

  1. I can describe the theme of my dance.
  2. I can create and perform some movements linked to our theme.
  3. I can perform my character at the right time.



Starter Activity

Starter Activity: Happy Circle

The objective of the warm-up is for the pupils to mobilise their joints and build strength, but also to experiment getting into different types of characters. They can see each other, so this helps them practise and copy actions and gestures.

Have all the children sit in a circle with the teacher sat in with them. Play some relaxing and engaging music.

Butterflies:  Children pretend to be butterflies. The soles of their feet should be touching while they gently bounce their knees up and down to emulate the flapping of wings—where would you like to fly today?

Rocking boat: Rock from side to side, they are the captains of their ship—where would they like to sail today?

Mermaids and Mermen: Mermaids and mermen have tails, ask the children to bring their legs together, straight in front of them and point their toes, this is their tail!  Hold on the pirates are coming!  The children should draw their knees towards them and pretend to hide. When danger has passed, they can stretch their legs out again.

Rotate through each action at least twice, asking different children where they would like to go.


Assessment For Learning

By the end of the lesson, pupils should be able to link and perform a series of movements based on characters from a story, fairy tale or song. Suggestions are: “Old MacDonald”, “Twinkle Twinkle”, “Pat a Cake”.  By the end of the lesson, pupils should be able to explain or describe the term ‘theme’ when used in a dance/movement context.  For example, the theme for Old MacDonald is farm animals.

Challenge: Include low/high action and change of direction and speed

Development: Dance in a pair and share ideas, create smaller phrases repeated


How to use the theme you choose:

From the suggested nursery rhymes “Old MacDonald had a Farm”, “The Grand Old Duke of York”,  “Eensy Weensy Spider”, “Pat-a-Cake” choose one to undertake with your class.  If you have help in the classroom, you may wish to split the class in two and do different nursery rhymes.

Music is not essential for working on this AFL task, and it may be distracting for the pupils while they work on their ideas.

From the story, select a range of ‘characters’. These characters do not have to be people or animals– for instance, the HILL in the “Grand Old Duke of York” or the ‘B’ written on the bread in Pat-a-Cake could be characters.  The idea of creating these characters is to give the pupils a range of ways they can express the story of the nursery rhyme.

  • Read the nursery rhyme (or a shortened version of it) to the children, can they identify different characters?
  • How can we show these characters?  E.g. making shapes, with our bodies, replicating movements.
  • With each new character, give the pupils a few pointers and then allow them a couple of minutes to explore and make it their own.

Development: Choose fewer characters

Challenge: Use more characters


Activity 2

Performing to the nursery rhyme:

  • Once the children are confident with several of the characters (some may be performing more characters than others) begin to read the nursery rhyme back to them—what theme(s) are covered in it? E.g. farms, army, baking, challenges, animals.
  • The aim is for the children to perform their character as it is read in the nursery rhyme.
  • Start very slowly to give each pupil the perform as they hear the character in the story.
  • Allow pupils space to move freely and expressively.

Once pupils are confident, you can speed up the reading. If they are easily recreating the characters, insert a few extra.

Extension: Choose a piece of music that compliments the nursery rhyme and play in the background as you read. What effect does this have on the pupils’ performance?


Teaching Points

Creating characters

  1. Guide pupils with ideas but allow them time and freedom to explore, this may involve talking, comparing and contrasting with their classmates.
  2. Can they perform at levels, e.g. high, low?
  3. Can they make shapes?
  4. What actions might be could be used, e.g. marching, crawling etc.?


Key Questions

  1. What was the theme/story in your nursery rhyme?
  2. What was your favourite ‘character’ in the nursery rhyme and why?
  3. How can our bodies represent characters? What did you do in today’s lesson to become a different character?