Why I love Halloween games for dance class
Full disclosure: Even though fall is my favorite season, I’m not the biggest fan of Halloween – I hate horror movies and all things that go bump in the night! But I do all know that my dance students eat it up, and over time, I’ve learned to lean into their love the holiday. I’ve even started spookify-ing my classes in October, in part by using fun Halloween dance games that keep students learning through play. Incorporating some Halloween games into your dance classes can be the perfect way to help students channel their Trick or Treat energy, and even fend off some of the burnout that can start to emerge later in the season. I find that by mid-October, students are familiar with the usual class routine and Halloween dance games help shake things up and keep class interesting. These are by far my students’ favorite seasonal dance games of the year – they ask for them class after class, even well into November!
How do dance class games help students learn?
If you follow my blog, you know I love a good seasonal game in my dance classes! Improvisation, games, and creative exercises all provide fun ways to help students develop greater creativity, self-expression, collaboration skills, and performance quality, while also developing a deeper understanding of their dance technique. Tying these games and activities to the season add a celebratory nature to class, and helps students connect what they are doing in dance with what they are experiencing in their lives outside the studio. These 3 Halloween dance games can be easily adapted for students of all ages, skills levels, and most dance genres, but are designed with dancers ages 7 and up in mind. After all, students of all ages learn through play!. Moreover, play can be a great way to improve students’ social and emotional health, not only in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, but also as they start to feel distracted by tricks, treats, and all the spooky things.
A note on play as an educational tool in the dance studio
These Halloween games for dance class are all based in the philosophy that play can be an important educational tool in the dance studio. Research indicates that students of all ages learn through play, and play can help children can develop important social, cognitive, and emotional skills. Using play as an educational tool can help students gain self-confidence, engage in new experiences, and meet new physical and mental challenges. Incorporating play in the dance studio with students of all ages can have many benefits, from helping students learn new skills and refine their technique to helping them cope with stress and anxiety. Read more about the play in the dance studio in this blog post: Your Ultimate Guide to Play in the Dance Studio.
Find detailed explanations of these games and 12 more in The Holistic Collection of Dance Games for the Fall Season to keep the fun going all season long!
My favorite Halloween-themed games for dance class
Funny (And Functional) Bones
The primary objective of this activity is to help students explore and better understand the skeletal system, at an age-appropriate level.
- Use an inexpensive decorative skeleton to show what the bones of the skeletal system look like. Point out different bones, then encourage them to find these bones in their own bodies. They can point to or move the area where each bone can be found.
- Direct the students to explore, through discussion and in movement, how bones connect at the joints. Point out that it is the joints, not the individual bones themselves, that allow our bodies to move. Teach the students about the different kinds of joints, how each one moves, and where they are found in the body.
- Use guided improvisation to help students discover the range of movement at each joint: the ball and socket joints of the shoulders and hips: the hinge joints of the elbows, knees, fingers, and toes; the pivot joint between C1 and C2; the condyloid joint of the wrist; the cartilaginous joints of the spine.
- Explore the role of the skeletal system in balance, and guide students in improvisation that shifts between balanced and off-balance movement.
The primary objective of this activity is to introduce students to collaborative dance making by encouraging them to create and share original movement inspired by a theme.
- Arrange the students in a large circle, and encourage them to imagine a huge cauldron of boiling water hanging over a fire in the center. Tell them that you are going to work together as a class to create the perfect witches’ brew, using your movement.
- Assign each dancer an ingredient to add to the brew, such as eyeballs, spiderwebs, bat wings, fingernails, and slime. For younger students, you can use types of candy instead of creepy things, such as gumballs and Starbursts.
- Direct the students to think of a movement that would represent their ingredient. For example, eyeballs or gumballs could be represented by rolling movements, spiderwebs by extended legs and arms, fingernails by sharp, darting movement, and Starbursts with big jumps in an X-shape. Give them time to develop their movement, then gather back around the cauldron.
- Invite each student to add their ingredient to the brew by teaching the other dancers their movement. Decide together how much of each ingredient is needed and apply that to the movement. For example, 3 eyeballs would mean that the rolling motif is repeated three times.
- Perform the dance as a group to concoct the perfect brew!
Bats and Pumpkins
The primary objectives of this activity are to help students develop greater spatial awareness, and to encourage creative expression through movement choices. This is a game in the style of “Sharks and Minnows,” as you might have played in gym class in elementary school.
- Divide students 2 teams: Depending on the size of your class, 1-4 students will be “Pumpkins” and the rest are “Bats.”
- The Pumpkins will start in the middle of the room. The Bats will start on one side of the room.
- The Bats, must cross from one side of the room to the other, without being tagged by one of the Pumpkins. The catch: The Pumpkins must move slowly and on the low level, as a real pumpkin might roll on the ground. The Bats must move quickly and on the high level, like bats darting and swooping through the sky at night.
- If a Bat is tagged, they become a Pumpkin. The last remaining Bat wins, and gets to start the next game as the Pumpkin.
- Be sure to encourage the dancers to keep moving as if they were the character, and to explore a range of dance movements that meet the criteria for their character. Otherwise, the game can quickly dissolve into tag!
More games for dance class
Check out The Holistic Collection of Dance Games for the Fall Season, a ready-to-use collection of 15 educational dance games to keep your students engaged, learning, and having fun all season long! ach game listing includes a description of the primary learning objective, detailed instructions, ideas for adapting the game for multiple uses, Covid-19 considerations, and music recommendations. The activities can be adapted for use with students of all dance genres and skill levels, and are recommended for students age 7 and up.
Plan ahead for future holidays by checking out my other seasonal games for dance class:
- Get-to-Know-You Dance Games
- Halloween Games for Dance Class
- Thanksgiving Dance Games
- Winter/Holiday Dance Class Games
- Valentine’s Day Games for Dance Class
- Spring-Themed Dance Games
- Summer-Themed Dance Games
- Team-Building Games for Dance Class
Find all the dance teacher resources you need to get through the fall season – all at a great price – with the Fall Fix Bundle!
For dance games that help your students learn through play all year long, check out the Dance Games Bundle. This bundle includes 75 educational dance games arranged by season – Back to School, Fall, Winter/Holidays, Spring, and Summer – all for under $40!
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