Forum: Irish / Irish - Beginners

Help! Need game ideas for beginning dancers
By emilou
On Thu Feb 18, 2016 02:59 PM

I just began teaching a beginning Irish Dance class, I have four girls and one boy, ages 5-7. I'm having difficulties keeping their attention in class; even when we're drilling parts of their steps, one student has a tendency to wander off and do their own thing, and one student won't even try unless I'm carefully watching her, but then I can't focus on the other students. I've found that playing games to practice technique keeps all of the students involved and they are more motivated to try and take criticism and comments from each other, and me, very well. We play a version of tag to practice leap overs and the light jig. Does anyone know of any other games that work well?

4 Replies to Help! Need game ideas for beginning dancers

re: Help! Need game ideas for beginning dancers
By CelticCatPremium member
On Thu Feb 18, 2016 03:21 PM
I'm interested in this, too, as I have a beginner's class with the same age spread. Same issues with focus and attention span. One thing that has worked for me is stickers at the end of class for extra effort working on something specific (which we usually do as a group, like turnout). It's magical the way they step up their game for stickers and a few of the moms who teach this age group in regular school say stickers are amazing.

Shamrocks are easy to find and I found some Irish dancers on Etsy. I don't do this each class, but it's a tool in my teaching toolbox!
re: Help! Need game ideas for beginning dancers
By CelticCatPremium member
On Thu Feb 18, 2016 04:05 PM
Edited by CelticCat (96674) on 2016-02-18 16:05:57
I found a seller on eBay who made me some ghillie stickers - the dancers love these, too. Sorry the image is so huge, they're postage stamp sized.
re: Help! Need game ideas for beginning dancers
By kate_monster
On Fri Feb 19, 2016 06:00 AM
My school does the "freeze" game with the younger classes, where you play music and do hop1-2-3s or sevens and you have to freeze when the music stops. If you move you're out, and you keep this up until there is a winner. The kids LOVE this game. I think they also sometimes do simon says, and they try to introduce ceilis as soon as the kids seem to have a handle on the basics. Maybe you could try red light/green light too, using steps, or some other game that requires them to move around a lot. Good luck!
re: Help! Need game ideas for beginning dancers
By StepdancerPremium member
On Fri Feb 19, 2016 05:31 PM
Children that age usually don't take well to drilling, so you're wise to pursue the game approach.

We use something I call the "Star Game", mostly because it involves colored vinyl stars which we scatter on the floor, one for every dancer (and if the group is small, sometimes 1 or 2 extra). This is a version of Musical Chairs, but without the fighting for that last chair, and its outcome is random. When the music starts, all the dancers dance around the room any way they like as long as they're doing Irish. When the music stops, everyone goes to a star. Once everyone is on a star, whoever is "it" will call out a color. Whoever is standing on that color star is out, and they bring their star with them when they leave. That dancer will then call the color for the next round. The last dancer left is the winner.

I'm the first to call a color, and then I keep an eye on each subsequent color-caller to make sure they're not peeking at who's on which color. If there are more stars than dancers and no one is on the star called, I just pull that star off the floor.

Kids like this because it's essentially freestyle (Irish) dance, and I like it because it can go on for at least a little while. We tried Red Light/Green Light, and our classroom just wasn't big enough--kids crossed the room so fast that the game was over almost as soon as it began. Plus anything which relies on speed encourages them to run or just be sloppy, and that's not what I'm going for. There's no pressure to be fast with the Star Game, or any need to fight over stars, so I find that when the kids are dancing to the music, they're really dancing.

Let us know what works for you! I'm always looking for new games. :)
re: Help! Need game ideas for beginning dancers
By CandyWalton
On Sun Feb 21, 2016 05:37 AM
I know that the younger beginners used to play this game called traffic light.
It works like this:

The teacher put's on Irish dance music, while the students dance (Irish) to it.
But as soon as the teacher stops the music (the students don't know when) the teacher has to say a color (red, orange, green)

I she/he says red, and then everybody has to freeze.
If she/ he say orange then they have to lie on the ground.
And if she/he says green then they all have to hug each other.

I hope this helps.
re: Help! Need game ideas for beginning dancers
By newdresswanted
On Sun Feb 21, 2016 05:42 PM
One thing I would suggest is using an older student as a helper.
In terms of games here are a few ideas that I have:
Over 2-3 freeze – Irish version of musical statues. When you freeze you have to stand feet crossed, turned out and arms in

Simon says – same as how you would normally do it but give instructions to do dance moves until you give next instruction. You can also give corrections“simon says arms in” and the ones where you don't say Simon says first are things you don't want them to do "Arms out wide"

Cards – make a variety of cardboard cards with pictures of activities / exercises on them and allow the students to take turns selecting the next activity

Tape line on the floor – practice a variety of skills along the line – walking on toes, jumping with feet together, walking crossing feet over (right heel on left side of tape, left heel on right side of tape)
Could also do multiple lines in a row (like rungs of a ladder but more spread out)to jump over whilst doing overs

Whats the time Mr Wolf – but instead of taking 1 step for each hour they have to do an over

Follow the leader – skip around in a circle and copy the leader in whatever they do

Clapping games to improve counting music / hearing rhythms. Could start with playing music and get them all to clap along to the music +/- counting out loud. Another one is to clap out a short rhythm and get them all to clap the rhythm back to you. They could also stamp the rhythm back instead
re: Help! Need game ideas for beginning dancers
By CelticCatPremium member
On Thu Feb 25, 2016 03:22 PM
These comments reminds me of another game we play. This is for a class that has mastered all of their light shoe dances to music.

I play DJ while the kids line up near me. I have a CD with all of their basic light shoe dances. We go down the line and I pick a tune. The dancer whose turn it is has to identify what kind of dance it is and do a few steps. If they're really off (dancing a reel step to a slip jig), we review it and might do some clapping or I'll call out the rhythm afterwards.


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