Thursday, September 19, 2013

2nd lesson - Integrating their school time with Mama's performing art school.

Waiting at the door for their lesson to begin.

One of the many great things about the girls new school and schedule is that it gives me the opportunity to build memories with them in the studio. It also lets me be an active part of their education.  I am sure it comes as no surprise that I am a huge supporter of arts integrated learning and enjoy the task of taking any given topic and teaching it with artistic approach.  When I learned that the girls would be studying the human body as one of their themes I instantly let my brain start working up all the wonderful possibilities of how their school and mama school lessons could be intertwined. This weeks assignment was to trace your child's body on a large piece of paper.  I couldn't ask my girls to just lay on the paper so I could trace them. I wanted them to really think about the human form and how different emotions and training can change our body, aesthetic and stance first.   This made for a great people watching experiment and dramatic exercise.  When given an emotion, such as happy or sad, they were easily able to move in such a manor. But then we switched it up a bit and began to look at a persons training and how that can change the way a person moves.

I lined up video's on youtube to give them a few clear examples on how differently we can move.  We looked at the ballerina. They stand or walk with their legs and feet turned out, holding their body tall, and they seem to glide gracefully from one point to another.  We looked at a body builder who is more heavy on their feet and their muscles make them hold themselves wider.  We also looked at NBA and WNBA players who seem to be able to shift from heavy to light on their feet and who lean and hunch over to protect their ball.   The training in which these people take on daily through the years becomes part of their natural movement outside the studio, gym or court.  

As we ran our errands through the week we would watch people and I would ask them questions like, "Do you think that person dances or body builds?"  They began to see the difference in a person's walk and how training can be part of that. They also noticed how everyones walk and stance is different. Each person so "artistically" unique.

I asked them to remember our day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and all the many statues.  Who were those people? What did they do? What was the thought process behind the pose?  During the creative movement portion of our lesson we played museum.  I laid out 6 hula hoops on the ground and in each one laid a different prop.  They were to pose using their prop while I, the museum curator, walked around inspecting my statues making sure they did not move.  After each inspection, I would turn off the music, cover my eyes and let them take on a new statue.

When they laid down to create their body for their homework assignment they put more thought into the uniqueness it could be, and just like the statues at the museum, this project could be a masterpiece.

The girls are beginning to catch on to their exercises.  Since we only have our lessons on Friday, I don't want to overwhelm them with too many exercises in one location. I spend about 10 minutes on the floor, 10 minutes at the barre, 15 minutes center and cross floor then the remainder of time spent with tap exercises. The tap routine they build upon each week.  Because these exercises are new to them, as well as me being very hands on and wanting them to learn it the right way, we end up doing about 2 exercises in each section.

During barre we began using the metronome as a place to incorporate our music lessons as well as build our musicality.  Although we understand many notes, symbols and their values, for now we are just using a 4/4 time signature with whole and quarter notes.  With each pliĆ© they get a whole note (4 beats) and a whole note to straighten the legs.  The point is to fill the whole note with their movement. This will later translate into their feeling the music as movement flows through them.


  1. Hannah, this is fascinating to read through. You are so creative with the ways you think of integrating movement into everything. This was a major part of my studies in my masters program with how theatre could affect the way students learn all subjects. To me, an IDEAL school would have all teachers integrating their curriculum. Someone like YOU would be so valuable to incorporate even subjects like Science and Math into a movement/dance class. That way students would have a smooth transition to each class, seeing the common thread in all these seemingly contradictory subjects. That's the kind of school I would send my kids to. And you've given me some ideas to do with my kids! Though I don't have your training, obviously, but the museum exercise and people-observing is such a great idea that I think I could incorporate. So thankful you share your creativity!

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    2. Thank you, I couldn't agree more about integrating the arts because they truly do all tie into one another but I feel to really understand those connections you have to have really studied and understand a form of the arts. I wish there were more teachers (like you) who dove into both their artistic passions and education because those are the teachers that stand apart from the rest, they know how to thoroughly engage their students and make the learning process memorable. With a program that was set up this way we wouldn't have to see schools loose their arts programs, which is very sad because by loosing the arts we are depriving our kids of the intellectual, personal and social benefits not to mention squandering so much potential.

      I'm so glad that I've been able to give you ideas, that has been my hope for sharing these lessons. I wish I had a community of people like you whom I could collaborate with and form some sort of homeschool group with.


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