Capturing the magic with winter-themed games for dance class


Is there anything more magical than the winter season? Holidays … school breaks … the first snowfall … it’s pretty much a kid’s dream! Of course, we adults may see a different side of things: shoveling the sidewalk … bones that ache in the cold weather … the bills that pile up after the holidays. In dance class, at least, I’ve discovered the perfect way to capture the magic of the season and experience it through a child’s perspective again: these wonderfully whimsical winter-themed dance games. Incorporating winter games into your dance classes is a fun way to engage students of all ages and genres in new kinds of dance learning, while also giving them an outlet for all of the excess energy they seem to have this time of year!

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 Winter-themed 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 the thought of presents, sweets, and snowmen!


A note on play as an educational tool in the dance studio


These Winter 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 Winter Season to keep the fun going all season long!


My favorite Winter-themed games for dance class


Frozen Hot Chocolate (A Game of Opposites)

The primary objective of this activity is to help students connect with one another while developing their observation and improvisation skills. The foundation of this activity is the improvisational concept of mirroring. 

To play:

  • Arrange the dancers in pairs, with students facing one another.
  • Assign one dancer from each group to start as the “leader” and one as the “follower.”
  • The follower will copy the leader as if they were their reflection in a mirror. When the leader moves their right hand, the follower will move their left hand. In both cases, students should be encouraged to watch each other closely and try to copy the leader exactly.
  • The leader should begin by moving slowly, with simple movements that do not change direction, so that the follower can copy their movement more easily. The ultimate goal is for the leader and follower to be moving so succinctly that an outside observer would not be able to determine who is leading and who is following.
  • When the instructor says “Marshmallows!,” the follower will have to do the opposite of what the leader is doing. This can be open to the dancers’ interpretation. If the leader moves their right hand, the follower could choose to move their own right hand (instead of their left as they would if mirroring), or their foot, or they could move at a different tempo or with a different quality. The instructor may choose to give some specific guidelines if they want the dancers to focus in on a specific kind of opposite movement.  
  • When the instructor says “Whipped Cream!,” the dancers switch roles, and return to mirroring. This means the dancer who had been the leader would begin mirroring the dancer who had been the follower.


Snowflake Waltz

The primary objectives of this activity are to help students explore a range of shapes with their bodies, and develop a greater understanding of musicality by working within a set number of counts. To begin, remind dancers, “No two snowflakes are alike!” Explain that this exercise may feel repetitive, but the challenge is to find as many different snowflake shapes with their body as possible.

To play:

  • Direct the dancers to start in a “Snowflake Shape” of their choosing. They are to consider different levels, spatial planes, directions, body parts, lines, facings, and angles as they create their shape.
  • They will hold their shape for 8 counts, then “melt” out of their shape and dance to the floor for 8 more counts.
  • On the 1 of the next phrase, they will find a new Snowflake Shape, and the dance will repeat.
  • Continue this pattern of Snowflake Shapes and melting dances to the floor as many times as desired.


Twinkling Lights

The primary objective of this activity is to help students cooperate and work together to achieve a movement goal. Since many winter holidays, from Christmas to Hanukkah to Diwali to Kwanza, involve twinkling lights and candles, this simple dance game is the perfect activity to help celebrate unity and togetherness this time of year!

To play:

  • Arrange the dancers in a large circle.
  • One dancer will “light the flame” by creating a movement that starts small, centered in their core, and grows larger and more powerful as it radiates out to their distal ends.
  • When the movement reaches their fingers and toes, they will “pass” the movement to the dancer on their right to “light” their candle.
  • The second dancer will take the movement inspiration that was passed to them by the first dancer, let it travel through their body, and “pass” it to the dancer on their light.
  • This pattern will continue around the circle, until all the dancers have received the “light” and sent it on to someone else. 


More games for dance class

Check out The Holistic Collection of Dance Games for the Winter 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:

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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