Dancer Dice Part 2! New materials, new faces!
What You'll Need:
There are two ways to go about building these large-scale dice. If you're into recycling and have large shipping boxes lying around, go for option 1. If you're willing to spend $2-$5 on foam poster board, go for option 2.
What You'll Do:
Option 1: If the flaps on the box are wide and long enough to make 3 equal squares (each), that will be easiest. Otherwise, cut six equal squares out of the box where you can. If you're cutting 6 squares, disregard steps 2-4
Option 2: Cut the poster board in half, length-wise. Most standard boards are 20" x 30" which means you can get a dice with 10" x 10" faces. Other board sizes require trimming in order to make the faces square.
STEP 2: Measure and mark three faces on both pieces of cardboard/foam board.
Cut halfway through the cardboard or foam board at the marks you made. This way, you can bend and easily put the two pieces together instead of 6.
Plan your dice faces. You can wing it or map it out before hand. (winging it prevents headaches)
Draw or paint dice before assembling. (allow paint to dry thoroughly) This way you can have it on a flat, sturdy surface.
Assemble. If you have extra cardboard, reinforcing the corners can make the dice sturdier and last longer.
What You'll Do
Here are some of my (and my students') all-time favorite tracks for preschool-aged dance classes!
1. "If You're Happy and You Know It" is an oldie but goodie for getting kids to sing and dance along. During my search for an updated and up-beat version of the song, I overheard this version in a fellow teacher's class at the studio. She introduced me to the band Go Fish who have 16 albums and a number of singles to check out on Spotify. They've upgraded tons of classics including "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and "The Wheels On The Bus."
2. As if "Animal Action," a peppy song that leads kids through acting out different animals, couldn't get any better or more fun there are TWO VERSIONS of it! "Animal Action 1" features spiders, bunnies, lions, bees, and ducks while "Animal Action 2" has cats, frogs, birds, snakes, and monkeys. Even for a once-weekly class, acting out the same animals every single week could get boring for students and limit their interest and attention. Switching it up between the two versions keeps them on their toes and keeps them having fun. Unfortunately, these tracks are not available on Spotify or iTunes but Amazon sells the CD for $15.
3. Tumble Tots has 15 awesome albums on Spotify geared to get kids moving and singing. My favorite tracks of theirs for the warming up part of class are "Stand Up, Sit Down" and "Shake My Sillies."
4. Even though my students between 7 and 10 years old absolutely despise it, Kidz Bop is one of the best things on this planet. "Make Some Noise" and other up-beat tracks on one of their recent albums, "Kidz Bop 30," are perfect for playing games or practicing skills like skipping.
5. Most preschool-aged dance classes are creative movement-based but for those ballet classes, The Modern Ballet Pianist's "The Princess Collection" is the only album you'll need. With 28 tracks, the album runs 1 hour and 30 minutes. Because of short attention spans and the desire to keep a class this age moving, I usually have it playing in the background as I lead students through the ballet exercises. I believe using ballet music is important even if they aren't doing a traditional technique class. This album walks that line between fun music and music for a ballet class with recognizably Disney favorites like "Under the Sea." It is not available on iTunes or Spotify but can be purchased on their website. Be sure to check out their other albums that blend classical and popular music for all your ballet classes.
Access my go-to playlist for preschool dance classes here!
My students LOVE props. I let them play with scarves, but wanted to introduce a new prop to them: ribbon wands. I couldn't find any that I liked enough for the price so I decided to make my own for very cheap. They're so easy to make, you could also take the supplies into the studio and invite the kids to help make them.
What You'll Need
What You'll Do
I found it to be a mindless activity I could do while watching the latest Once Upon a Time on ABC or enjoying a Friends marathon on Netflix. Not to mention it was a great break from all the essays I was writing this semester.
There are many things you can do with old t-shirts. I've made a quilt, braided t-shirt dog toys, headbands, grocery bags, and dust rags out of some of mine but my latest project was a DIY Headboard.
What You'll Need:
Let's start with making the t-shirt yarn. There are lots of ways to go about this, but here's the technique I used.
What You'll Do:
Cut the bottom part of the shirt from the arm pit to the bottom seam. If the shirt was long-sleeved, you can use them as well. Basically, you'll need a tube of fabric which can be the bottom of a shirt, pajama pant legs, or even the skirt part of a dress.
Then you'll need to cut up and down the length of the tube. I went around and around as seen in the instructions below:
Here's where you'll need those binder clips or chip clips. I used these handy chip clips from Ikea.
I used a media cart to attach my braids to but you could use the back of a chair or something like a guitar stand to hold the braids.
The orange, pink, and blue braid on the right is the beginning of the braid. I used string to tie it to the cart to get started. It helps to find something at a comfortable height for you. This was the right height for me to stand and braid so that I could walk backwards and make room for the braid.
Unless you want to keep walking backwards pulling the braid taught while you keep braiding, you'll want to create an anchor. The white chip clip is holding the anchor together, keeping the active braid to the finished part. (see image below to clarify which is which). The little green chip clip is optional, but I found it helpful to keep the braid unraveling as I was adjusting the anchor as I finished a length. The finished braid was feeding into a Trader Joe's bag to keep it all together and to keep my dachshund from getting tangled in it.
You can get started on the braiding process as soon as you have three balls of t-shirt yarn. Sometimes it's nice to switch between tasks to avoid burn out. Spend some time cutting, then switch to braiding, then switch back again to cutting.
Once you get started, you'll find a system and rhythm that works. I would release enough yarn so that the balls were on the floor, place the rubber band back on them, and braid until I hit the end of the length. Then clip the end, adjust the anchor, and repeat.
When you have enough finished braid, you can start hanging it on the wall so you can see how much more you'll need to braid.
I used picture hangers (like the photo to the left) to suspend the long-edge of a large picture frame and then looped the braided t-shirts over it.
The braid can get heavy, so I suggest using nails as opposed to Command hooks. Even though it is soft, it wouldn't be fun to wake up to if it fell on your head while you were sleeping.
This year's recital theme was "Create Change." I had a class of 4- to 5-year-olds who started their ballet dance as the caterpillars and a class of 5- to 6-year-olds who were the grown up butterflies. As crafty dance teacher, I thought a great end-of-the-year recital gift would be hand-made hair clips with either a caterpillar or a butterfly!
I completed twelve caterpillar clips and twelve butterfly clips in one and half weeks (with a part time job and teaching classes three days a week); spending about an hour or two each day.
What You'll Need
Instructions: The Base / Attachment Piece
Using the green ribbon, I made a little base for the insects to attach to so they were secure on the hair clip.
Since hair clips come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, I do not have exact measurements for how long the green ribbon should be... I used a piece probably twice the length of the clip. Once I had all of the pieces of green ribbon cut (one per clip), I lightly & quickly ran the ends of the pieces through the flame of a candle to prevent fraying edges.
You'll attach the green base in two parts:
1. Fold the end of the ribbon over so that it is sewn around the end of the clip (the part you pinch to open the jaws of the clip) BEFORE sewing the insect to it. This way you know where to attach the insect so it sits on the clip in the right spot.
2. AFTER sewing the insect to the base on the clip, you'll fold the remaining ribbon over on the TOP of the clip (pinched open so you only cover the top part of the clip). Be sure to do this after sewing the insect to it, it covers up the stitching AND secures everything to the clip.
Instructions: The Caterpillar
The caterpillar hair clip is as easy as sewing 1.5" lengths of ribbon into little loops and attaching them to a base.
As you can see, I cut the purple ribbon to be only one inch long and proved to be difficult to work with. I recommend cutting the ribbon into 1.5" pieces. Once the pieces are cut, lightly and rapidly run them through a candle flame to prevent fraying. This is crucial here because you will be sewing the ends together and fraying will lead to detachment.
Referring back to the base instructions, once all loops are attached to the base you will fold over the excess green ribbon and sew it over the TOP ONLY of the clip. Don't be fooled, even I accidentally sewed one of my clips shut.
Instructions: The Butterfly
Click through the gallery for instructions at each step.
And there you go! I clipped the barrettes to pieces of flower-shaped card stock paper with the dancers' names to hand them out at the recital. They were a huge hit!
As an intern with Design Dance, I had the amazing opportunity to assist at their Storytime Dance Camp. During the week, the dancers collaboratively wrote a short story and choreographed a dance to tell it. These dancers were invited to perform at one of Chicago's Dance in the Parks events. The story was of a magical princess and her pet dolphin. The dancers would act out the magical princess and the pet dolphin with their movement, but we needed magic wands. As a crafty dancer, I decided to hand make the props for the show.
Here's how I made them out of supplies you'll find around the house or at a nearby drug store:
What You'll Need:
What You'll Do:
Teaching young dance classes requires lots of fun activities. As many teachers do, I like to use props and play games that help teach dance steps and concepts.
While there are lots of resources that sell props specific to young dance classes, I find it much more frugal and personal to make the props myself! Here's my latest DIY prop: Dice made from fabric storage boxes!
Beginner tap classes invite a lot of opportunity to learn patterns, rhythm, and counting. One of my favorite tools for a young tap class is a set of dice.
You can make up a lot of games using numbered dice. For tap, I use it to practice counting sounds (do a step with __ sounds as determined by the dice), or to give them a chance to rest by taking turns rolling the dice and practicing a certain tap step __ times. Below are instructions to create the dice, no measuring and hardly any cutting involved! Without drying time, the die can be completed 30 minutes!
What You'll Need