Dance is a natural method for learning and helps children develop literacy. To the young child, verbal language and movement are entwined. A child can start moving to music and rhythm before words can be formed. Dance helps young children develop coordination, express emotions and enhances their understanding of the world. Body awareness activities, like dance, have been shown to help children focus, increase attention spans and teach a sense of direction. For example, a sense of moving left to right is an important pre-reading skill and helps avoid letter and word reversal later on. Activities that involve rhythm like singing, dancing and clapping help build pattern recognition and literacy skills. Song lyrics break words into smaller parts or syllables and this helps children sound out words when they are learning to read. So, let’s do as David Bowie suggested, and let’s dance!

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Books

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1,2,3, Do the Dinosaur

by Michelle Robinson; illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw.

With vibrant illustrations, a catchy rhythm and the opportunity for lots of action, this picture book will have you dancing like a dinosaur in no time. You’ll be stomping your feet, swishing your tail and chomping your jaws. There’s a lot of roaring too! The dinosaur dance is energetic, fun and easy to do. Tom will teach you how it’s done. Even the T.rex is keen to join in.

Dancing Feet!

by Lindsey Craig; illustrated by Marc Brown.

The rollicking and rhythmic text of Dancing Feet! will have your toddler up and dancing in no time. This interactive picture book invites you to guess who is dancing to the different types of beat. The bright, textured and expressive collage illustrations show the feet of the animal as a clue to what animal it will be. The simple, repetitive rhythm is fun, catchy and great for reading aloud. Who is dancing that stampity beat?

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Giraffes Can’t Dance

by Giles Andreae; illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees.

Gerald the giraffe would love to join in with the other animals at the Jungle Dance. But the other animals tell him that giraffes can’t dance. Poor Gerald starts walking home, feeling sad and alone. Thankfully a cricket has some helpful advice for him. Next thing Gerald is dancing in his own unique way. And just like Gerald, we can all dance to our own beat too.

Songs

Here’s 2 songs to get you dancing from Super Simple Songs.

Move to the left and move to the right with this easy dance song.

Get your bones moving with the Skeleton Dance.

Crafty Idea

Make some Nutcracker finger puppets of Clara and the Russian dancer. These finger puppets are courtesy of the Birmingham Royal Ballet.

You will need:

  • Finger puppets template
  • A4 white card or other thin cardboard
  • Coloured markers or crayons
  • Glue stick
  • Scissors

Method:

  • Print the template.
  • Colour in the two dancers.
  • Glue the sheet face up onto A4 card stock.
  • Cut around the dotted lines.
  • Place your fingers through the holes to make the dancer’s legs.
  • Move your fingers about to make them dance!

Did You Know?

The term ballet means ‘Dance’ in Latin. The male equivalent of a ballerina is a Danseur. A male dancer lifts over one and a half tons worth of ballerinas during performances.