- The ability to move to a rhythm first requires the ability to count the rhythm, thus internalizing it. For young children, count to four in a steady rhythm and clap to it. Have them join along in both counting and clapping. For something in 3/4 rhythm, count off like this: ONE-two-three, ONE-two-three with the emphasis and the clap on the one. Again, have the children mimic you.
- After students have a grasp on clapping rhythms, it’s time to incorporate movement. Start easy at first. Go back to the four count. On the fourth beat, have students put their hands in the air, so the pattern goes: clap-clap-clap-up. Repeat this until they all have it. Now, on the two count, have them put their hands down, so that pattern goes: clap-down-clap-up. Feel free to elaborate on this type of exercise based on how well your students are keeping up.
Dance to the Beat
- After students are adept at clapping to counting and working on movement, it’s time to stop counting and introduce a musical rhythm. You could use a popular song with which the children are familiar or even a simple drum beat. Continue the clapping exercise again with the movement so that the kids get used to moving in rhythm to the music.
- It may get a bad name thanks to comedy skits, but interpretive dance is an art form that represents a dancer’s physical interpretation of a song, performed in real time to the rhythm of the music. It is akin to jazz musicians improvising over predetermined chord progressions. When kids have learned to move in time with the rhythm, encourage them to make up their own moves to the music. This encourages creativity, bolsters confidence and promotes physical activity.