Friday, January 18, 2013

In Which I Share the Details of My First Preschool Dance Party

Break out those egg shakers!
At the 2012 ALSC Institute in Indianapolis, I attended a program called "Shake, Shimmy, and Dance: Using Music with Preschoolers" led by Kate Schiavi of the Louisville Free Public Library (here's what my fellow program attendees and I thought right after the session). I was instantly enamored of the information Schiavi shared with us, and I knew that I would have to get a preschool dance party on my program calendar.

This week marked the first such program at my branch, and it was a HIT. I got to work in a few early literacy messages along with the fun, too: I reminded caregivers that establishing an internal rhythm helps prepare children for the cadence of reading, and I mentioned the increased exposure to word sounds and vocabulary offered by songs. Bonus: many of the library's best children's music CDs were checked out after the program, signaling continued musical fun at home for these kids. This really is a home run of a program; I hope you'll steal my playlist and offer the program at your library. (You can even take advantage of the music's funky nature and tie it into summer reading--can you dig it?!?)

Preschool Dance Party

Song: "Dance, Dance, Dance" by The Beach Boys
     We warmed up to this song, doing lots of stretches and simple movements in time to the music to get ready for the rest of the program. All shyness had dissipated by its end.

Song: "I Like to Swim" by The Kerplunks
     We did the motions in the song, which include swimming front stroke, backstroke, and butterfly. We also laid down on the floor when the lyrics talked about floating in the water.

Song: "Come On, Get Happy" by Daddy A Go-Go
     I passed out rhythm sticks for this tune. We tapped the sticks above our heads, behind our backs, and using the floor as drums.

Song: "We Are the Dinosaurs" by Laurie Berkner
     What kid wouldn't want to march-stomp around the room pretending to be a dinosaur? The song ends with a fabulous RRRRROOOOAAAAAAARRRRR!

Song: "The Shaker Hop" by Carole Peterson
     I passed out egg shakers for this tune, which includes a good balance of motion lyrics (putting shakers in and out) and free shaking time.

Story Break: The Man from the Land of Fandango by Margaret Mahy and Polly Dunbar
     Before kids settled onto the story time rug for our story, I handed out small cups of pretzels and glasses of water. After jumping around for almost 15 minutes straight, they were ready for a bit of rest, hydration, and energy boost. This book is the perfect length for a story interlude, and its rhythmic language and dance theme made it an easy choice to include in this program.

Song: "Clap Your Hands" by They Might Be Giants
     This song boasts a mere three different lines of lyrics: 1) Clap your hands! 2) Stomp your feet! 3) Jump in the air! Children happily oblige.

Song: "Barnyard Boogie" by Greg & Steve
     I brought out our 12-handled parachute for this one. With an older crowd, you could get the children to do specific actions with the lyrics. My younger group was so excited by the parachute, though, that we just made waves.

Song: "I Really Love to Dance" by Laurie Berkner
     I asked the grownups in the room to take the handles of the parachute for this one, giving the kiddos a chance to dance underneath the parachute. We finished the song--and the program--by letting the parachute fall over everyones' heads like a tent. Happy squealing ensued.


What are your favorite songs to share with preschoolers?


  1. Looks like a great party. Our dance parties have become a little routine so I look forward to incorporating some of these ideas into ours -including the book break!

    1. They enjoyed the book break for sure. I love that we can refer caregivers to other great dance-inducing books in our Rhymes and Songs neighborhood, too.

  2. Sounds like a lot of fun! We just had our first one this week, too, and it was really fun. I'm hoping that attendance will build up if we keep offering it regularly. One fun thing that Miss Teresa did was read a book about yoga poses and have the kids do the poses. The kids got into it a lot more than I thought they would and I think I might incorporate some yoga poses in my spring storytime coming up!

    1. I LOVE the yoga idea! Did Miss Teresa have any yoga experience? Also, have you blogged it? I think it's terrific.

  3. You have great taste in music! Here are a few of my favorites: "Rockin ABCs" by the Royal Order of Chords and Keys (R.O.C.K.); "Boom Boom," "Dance All Day," and "Clap It" by Bari Koral; "Jump Jump" by Joanie Leeds; and "Dance Around" by Ralph's World.

    For stick songs, I frequently rely on Hap Palmer's Rhythms on Parade album; for scarf songs, I like Johnette Downing's The Second Line album, as well as "Scarf Dance" and "Scarf Dance 2" from Charity and the JAMband.

    Thank you for sharing your program. My weekly storytime is music and movement themed, and now I have some new ideas of how to mix it up a little!

  4. How often are you going to offer this? I love music and I love to sing (with just an average voice) and have considered doing this for a long time. You might just get me started! If you offered this, would it be weekly, monthly?? Would you suggest using the same songs form week to week, switch them out?? I have had great success with Laurie Berkner's "Goldfish Song", Lolly Hopwood's "Jump, Jump" and most of Jim Gill's music would fit into this too.

    1. I'm planning on offering this at most quarterly--we're trying to not inundate our customers with too many "series" programs, so we're mixing up the extras that we offer in addition to traditional story times. I created playlists for three distinct dance parties in order to mix up the music and take advantage of all our props/instruments. I'll repeat after cycling through all three programs.

      I love your music suggestions!

  5. My playlist for our first Preschool Dance Party was:
    Ding Dong by Brady Rymer
    Boogie shoes by KC and the Sonshine Band
    Get Ready Get Set Lets Dance by Greg and Steve
    Rockin Robin by Kids Dance Express
    -- Story Break with Giraffes Can't Dance
    Jump in the air by Diggity Dudes
    Loose Tooth by Juice Box Heroes
    Family Goodbyes by Jim Gill

    It was a blast. Great way to get a work out.


  6. I, too, was enamored with Kate's session at the ALSC institute. I came back and started scrounging CDs and songs only to find our collection lacking. Thanks to the generosity of our Friends group I purchased new black (thank you Kate!) shaker eggs, new vinyl beanbags and a dozen new CDs. I have fallen in love with the Go Fish Guys - - Party Like a Preschooler! Juice box Heroes will have your adults in stitches! We had our first session in January and had 18 in attendance. We are only offering it once a month so next week is number 2. Having a great time so far!! Thanks for the music recommendations . . . I see another Friends' request in the making!

  7. I read quite a bit about using music with kids at the library, and very rarely do I see anyone mention Justin Roberts. I love his music and use it quite frequently. Kids always love it, and it's extremely adult tolerable. I always try to add a couple songs to my programs, so I am not sure why I never thought of just hosting a dance party. Great idea!!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.