3 kids dance

Lesson: Shaping Up Creative Movement

Shaping Up Creative Movement

LeslieAnne Bird shares her process for utilizing the elements of movement to interpret the English folk song “The Keys of Canterbury.”

The lesson encourages students to review and take inspiration from a performance by Dance Studio Kadans, which can be found in this YouTube video.

National Standards

3MU:rR9.1.4a Demonstrate and explain how responses to music are informed by structure, the use of the elements of music, and context (such as social and cultural)

MU:Pr5.1.4a Apply teacher-provided and collaboratively-developed criteria and feedback to evaluate accuracy and expressiveness of ensemble and personal performances


Lesson 1: Watch video and write two “I noticed” statements about what you see. Share ideas with the class. Guide the discussion to recognize that the movers created shapes with their bodies and sometimes “freeze” in the shape. They are not moving all the time.

Lesson 2: I read the lyrics to the students (in this case with my student teacher, and I would do it with two voices very dramatically by myself) and we discussed what is happening in the song. Watch video again. Sketch one or two shapes that the movers make during the performance that you like. Share ideas with your team.

Lesson 3: In groups of three to five (I used six groups) the students were to create two to three “shapes” inspired by their sketches. The groups shared their shapes with the class and they voted on which shape they liked best. I took a picture of the shape as a reference for the next class. We identified “shape” as the most important element.

Lesson 4: In their groups the students were asked to replicate their shape from last week using the photo as a guide, and to create a second contrasting shape. It could be one of the shapes we did not choose last week, another idea from a sketch or a completely new idea. I again took a photo of the shape for reference next class. We identified “contrast” as the second most important element.

Lesson 5: The groups were asked to replicate both shapes from the previous lesson and then create an “artistic and interesting” way to move from shape one to shape two. Each group practiced several times and we performed for the class.

Lesson 6: The challenge class. The groups were challenged to use the “movement posters”* to change ONE thing about their performance to make it more interesting to watch.

Lesson 7: Each group was set in the room and they were asked to sit or kneel with their group and freeze with a “serious” look. I gave each group a cue and they were to SLOWLY stand and perform shape #1, freeze, shape #2, freeze again them “melt” back into their starting places. Then I played the music and had them do it again. We brainstormed ideas to end the movement selection. We went back to our seats and listed criteria for our best performance on the whiteboard.

Lesson 8: Review student-generated rubric, practice, record. Lesson 9: Watch recording and self-evaluate. Example of student-generated rubric: 1. Move slowly and smoothly 2. Be SILENT 3. Remember and perform your part with good posture. 4. FOCUS 5. Move with purpose and confidence 6. Be serious 7. Watch Mrs. Bird 8. FREEZE Rubric Follow-up Questions: 1. Did you enjoy this project? Why or why not? 2. What did you learn while completing this project? 3. What could Mrs. Bird do differently next time to make this project?

*”Movement posters” are displayed in the classroom and list the Laban efforts and the Anne Green Gilbert movement terms for pathway, connection etc.

Click here for a printable version of this lesson.

LeslieAnne Bird

LeslieAnne Bird is a music and movement educator at University Schools in Shaker, Ohio. She teaches general music and choir to fifth through seventh grade young men and is an adjunct Professor at the University of Akron. She has previously taught in North Olmsted & Cleveland Ohio as well as in Prince George’s County, Maryland. LeslieAnne is a national presenter. She has served as vice president and membership chair for the Greater Cleveland Orff Chapter and is currently serving as the content curator for the Teaching With Orff community. In addition, she is the owner and CEO of Three Little Birds Music Education Services LLC where she offers teacher training, coaching and musical experiences for children and adults. She earned Orff Certification from Baldwin Wallace University in 2014, and has completed Music Learning Theory General Music Level One, Level One World Music Drumming training, Level One Google Certification and has earned the Ohio Master Teacher designation.

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