A Halloween Sequencing Lesson in Dance.

Halloween is nearly upon us! How did that happen?! I’m usually much better prepared – I haven’t even started costume shopping yet!

Fortunately this Halloween-themed sequencing lesson takes next to zero ahead-of-time prep. That’s what I love about dance-integrated lessons. You don’t have to cut anything out.

For this lesson, I’ve always used Inside a House That Is Haunted by Alyssa Satin Caucilli, because we had a class set and it’s a fun read-aloud with a very rhythmic cadence. If you don’t have this specific book, your favorite monster book with a sequence of events will do just fine.

To start, I usually read-aloud the book first, with no agenda, just so the kids can get a feel for it. Then, maybe that day or maybe the next, we come up with motions to accompany each of the creatures that appears in the book. In this book, there’s a knocking hand, a startled spider, a waking ghost, a jumping cat, swooping bats, a jolted owl, a spooked mummy, a rattling skeleton, and a stomping monster. Your book doesn’t need to have so many, 3 or 4 would suffice, but each movement should be distinct enough so that the children don’t get any of them confused.

Then we read-aloud the book again, this time having the students do the motions corresponding to each character. We may do that once or more than once, depending on the group. Last, we put aside the story entirely, and the students storyboard the sequence from memory.

Storyboarding: They number the boxes and sketch the sequence. Use folded copy paper or any graphic organizer you like.
Storyboarding: They number the boxes and sketch the sequence. Use folded copy paper or any graphic organizer you like.

We might do this individually or as a class, again depending on the group and my goals. Often I make them label their storyboard drawings, with (at least) the ordinal number or sequencing word I want them to be focused on (first, second, next, then, last, etc.), or (at most) a full, short descriptive sentence (First the hand knocked).

Extension

You can make this into a Halloween dance performance! The easiest way is to take the movement sequence the kids already learned and instead of performing it to the narrative of the book, set it to a good Halloween song like “The Monster Mash.”

BUT – with just a little more ambition, you can extend this sequencing activity by having students mix up the motions to create their own monster dance sequences.

  • First, list out all the movements they already learned. Put them in groups of 4-6 (if they’re seated in groups at tables, this is a natural way to assign them).
  • Every person in the group is responsible for choosing their favorite movement (it’s okay if a movement repeats, repetition is an aspect of choreography).
  • Then as a group they have to put the movements in a particular sequence and perform them together. Hint: it helps if they write out the sequence before they begin rehearsing. They usually only need about 10 minutes to rehearse, and sometimes even 10 minutes is overkill.
  • Then the groups perform for each other (or for parents if you’re having them in for the Halloween festivities anyway). Again, it’s extra cool if you set the dances to a Halloween-y song.

What more could we do? How would you extend this? What other art-y things do you do for Halloween?


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