- Dancers will explore pretend play and the habits and habitat of squirrels.
- Dancers will move in different directions, pathways, and levels.
- Dancers will explore the concept of place by alternating between self and general space.
- Dancers will perform a specific sequence of movements based on the particular story of the squirrel.
Age: 3 through 7, with variations in complexity
Props: Leap ‘N Learn placement mats, large acorn replicas from craft store
Music: Any galloping or skipping selection on Kids! or Kids! 2To incorporate math into a dance game with simple addition problems. To practice traveling and transitioning between skipping and galloping. To introduce choreography and build memorization skills.
Exercise 1 — Ages 3 to 4
- Line up dancers on one side of the room with 3 to 4 dancers traveling across the floor at one time. Be certain to assign each dancer a number — those going first will be one, those going second will be two, and those going third will be three, and so on.
- Place two acorns on the dance floor on the opposite side of the room for each row of dancers.
- Evenly place two mats between each dancer and set of acorns.
- Discuss with the dancers how a squirrel behaves and moves (looks around, scurries, walks/moves on branches, leaps from branch to branch, etc.).
- Instruct the first set of dancers to scurry (pas de couru) to the first green mat and then stop on the mat and look around. The dancers repeat this movement to the second green mat. Then the dancers scurry to the two acorns and pick them up.
- To show the squirrel’s excitement, have the dancers bourrée while turning in self space holding their acorns and stopping with their tummies facing the mirror.
- The dancers then extend their leg toward their starting position and gallop to the first green mat. If galloping is too difficult, they can just slowly side-step. Three-year-old dancers will stop at the first mat and look around, gallop or side-step to the second mat and look around, then gallop or side-step to the starting point (four-year-old dancers will sauté on the green mats).
- Once dancers reach their starting position, they will kneel on one knee, then the other, and sit on their knees. Dancers will pretend to eat one acorn and bury the other.
- Have dancers waiting for their turn pretend to be squirrels sitting in a tree.
Exercise 2 — Ages 5 to 7
- Pair the dancers and ask them to stand together on one side of the room. Space permitting, each pair of dancers will perform the exercise at the same time.
- Assign one dancer to be a squirrel and the other to be an oak tree.
- Place a green Leap ‘N Learn mat for each oak tree on the quarter line closest to where they are standing.
- Give each dancer pretending to be an oak tree two acorns and ask them to stand on their green mat.
- Ask the oak trees to hold their acorns at two different levels of their choice.
- Ask the dancers pretending to be squirrels to look around as a squirrel would, then to pas de couru toward their oak tree.
- Ask the dancers to pick one acorn from the tree and then to pas de couru in a circular pathway around the tree looking for another acorn.
- Ask the dancers to stop on the opposite side of the tree to pick their second acorn.
- At this exact moment, the squirrel will prepare to travel (your choice of gallop/skip/polka/waltz/or any other traveling step) by placing their leg in the appropriate tendu. The oak tree will then begin to feel the wind and their limbs will gently sway in self space (one place).
- The squirrels will travel to the other side of the room while holding their two acorns while the oak tree continues to blow in the wind.
- The squirrels will then return toward the oak tree on the quarter line (your choice of specific step; it could be the same or a new one). As the squirrels approach the oak tree, the oak tree magically becomes a squirrel, and the squirrel becomes an oak tree holding two acorns.
- Repeat the exercise with the dancers in the opposite roles.