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Using Rhythm and Movement to build community

5 simple movement ideas to help promote classroom community

1. Together with children, develop a morning and day-end movement ritual and execute it daily

2. With students, devise a space chart – discuss personal space, moving about the classroom and respecting everyone’s space

3. Devise a movement rite or ritual for special events – birthdays, milestone celebrations

4. Partner dances

5. Group movement in a circle

Rites, rituals and rhythm are an important part of every child’s day. There is a rhythm to waking up, eating breakfast, the rite and rituals of deciding which outfit to wear, which socks to put on, what specific special item needs to be in their backpack or lunch box. Then there are the rites, rituals and rhythms of arriving at school. Hang up the coat, put the backpack in the cubby, remove boots, say goodbye to mom or dad, transition to a new environment. That’s a lot of movement and a lot of transition in a relatively short amount of time.

Beginning your classroom day with a ritual is a nice way to ease both you and your students into a different “head space.”

Incorporating gestures and movement into morning circle time is a great way to involve the entire class, acknowledge individuals and the group as a whole – and the importance of both entities. It is easier for young children to express themselves through movement than words. Their movement vocabulary is far more developed than verbal skills during the pre-school years.

Morning rites and rituals can help put children at ease, make them feel safe, less anxious and more connected to their classroom community.

Rhythm exploration of similarities, differences, tone, timber and timing provide opportunities for children to move and socialize in a meaningful way, learning to understand movement nuances and cues.

Ending the day with a rite or ritual is just as important as beginning the day that way. I like to end with a circle, acknowledging each participant, the group as a whole, our accomplishments for the day, and a pat on the back for each and every participant.

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