It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and if you are anything like me, you have no idea how, or even if, you will celebrate with your significant other, but you definitely know what your lesson plans for the week look like! Or, maybe you don’t … and if that’s the case, here are three Valentine’s Day dance games that you can use to celebrate with your classes!
I love introducing seasonal dance games into my classes. I find it can help students of all ages to stay motivated and engaged throughout the year. Students enjoy having a little break from the normal routine, and dance games are a great way to channel the extra energy they tend to have around holidays – especially ones that are fueled by sugar, like Valentine’s Day! But most importantly, research indicates that students learn through play. Play is an integral part of how children (of all ages) learn how to express themselves, relate to one another, and make sense of the world around them. Dance games are not a “break” from the learning – even if it feels that way to the students. When introduced properly, dance games can build upon what students are already learning and help introduce new concepts in a fun way.
Valentine’s Day dance games can be an especially good way to shake things up during the long winter months. When the weather is cold and the sun sets early, when school gets stressful and summer feels a million years away, dance games can help breathe new life into your classes. To keep your students having fun all winter long, I invite you to check out The Holistic Collection of Dance Games for the Winter Season. In this collection, you’ll find more detailed descriptions for the activities listed below, plus 2 additional Valentine’s Day dance games, and 10 more winter-themed dance games.
These Valentine’s Dance Games are rooted in creative play, which allows for students to explore movement concepts, alignment, technique, personal expression, and collaboration in a fun and developmentally appropriate way. You can gear any of these activities toward a particular genre of dance by instructing students to use technique, vocabulary, or concepts specific to that style. You can also adapt the movement for the dancers’ age or skill level by simplifying the instructions or adding layers of complexity.
What I Like About You
The primary objective of this game is to help students create original movement while building their self-esteem and creating a positive class culture. You will need a piece of paper for each student, with one of their classmate’s names written on it, and a pen for each student to use. (Covid-19 Consideration: Clean off each pen before and after use.)
Give each student one of the papers – be sure that they don’t get their own name! Advise them not to share the name of the student on their paper with anyone else. On the paper, they are to anonymously write down a few things that they like or admire about the students whose name is listed. They will then return the paper to you. Be sure to review the comments before proceeding. One strategy for doing this is to have the students do the written portion at the start of class, then assign a student to lead warm-up while you review.
When you are ready to proceed with the game, read the name and comment on each piece of paper out loud. Direct the students to repeat after you, so the entire class is affirming what is written on the paper. After you’ve read through the class responses once without movement, go through them again one by one. Have the class work together to create a movement that does with each of the responses. Combine the movements with transition steps to create a dance phrase that reflects all the wonderful aspects of your students!
- For online classes, you can use the chat function of Zoom to privately send each student their assigned dancer, and to receive their responses. You could also use email or a text service like Band if it is available to you.
- This activity can be used as a jumping off point for discussions about self-worth, kindness, empathy, and other important topics that impact students in the studio and in their every day lives!
Candy Land Cross Training
The primary objective of this activity is to help students engage in simple conditioning exercises to improve cardiovascular health, strength, and flexibility while having fun! This is a great way to shake up your conditioning routine while bringing some easy seasonal fun into class. You can teach the elements alone, arrange them into a sequence set to music, or use simple props to create a candy-themed obstacle course using the elements. If you choose the obstacle course, students can either complete it as an individual, or you can arrange them in teams and make it a relay race. You may choose to award simple prizes (or just bragging rights!) to students who complete the sequence or course fastest, with best form, with the most style, or best sportswo/manship!
- Tootsie Rolls: Basic log rolls, but with a sweeter name
- Sour Worms: Commonly known as an “inchworm” or “caterpillar” – from a standing forward fold walking the hands out to plank, then the feet back into forward fold. Repeat to travel across the room.
- Button Candy: Arrange polydots or brightly colored paper plates on the floor for students to frog jump, tuck jump, or hop over
- Taffy Pull: Students sit face to face with a partner in butterfly, pike, or straddle, hold on to one another’s forearms (or hands depending on position and height), and take turns gentle pulling one another into a forward stretch
- Starbursts: Students crouch low to the ground in a ball shape, then “burst,” or jump as high as they can in an “X” shape, before returning to the ball shape on the low level
- Skittles: From a crab or tricep pushup positions, students “Skittle” by moving their arms and legs in a stepping pattern that brings them from side to side
- M&Ms: Lying on the floor with legs at 90/90, or in a V sit, students write the letter M in the space with their feet. Be sure to direct them to keep the legs together and start the movement in the hips, so that they are getting a solid core workout.
The Game of (Spatial) Relationships
The primary objective of this activity is to help students learn about spatial relationships while connecting with one another and creating original movement. Valentine’s Day is all about our relationship with others, be it friendship, familial bonds, a first crush or a lasting romance. To celebrate this, in this exercise students explore spatial relationships: over and under, around and through, near and far, above and below, left and right, in front and behind, toward and away, just to name a few.
Create index cards with space-relational words on them, one word per card. This means that near would get it’s own card, as would far. Arrange the cards in pairs of opposites, meaning near would be paired with far.
Arrange the dancers in pairs, and give each pair a set of cards. One group would get near and far, for example, and one would get above and below. Allow the dancers to improvise and explore this relationship in movement. After they have had time to improvise, ask the students to create 16 counts of choreography that explores this relationship. Allow each group to perform for the class, and invite the audience to guess what spatial relationship is being performed.
- For in-person, socially distant classes, choose relationship words that allow for students to maintain a safe distance. Near could mean 6 feet apart, while far is 12 or more. Around, left and right, in front and behind all work well, above and below and over and under could be problematic.
- For online classes, the solo version and version with a prop work well and are easier to facilitate than the duet version.
- The duet game can be a bit complicated for online classes, but it is a great opportunity to teach about perspective in film and the basics of screendance. Ask students to create a duet as if their partner was there and record their half of the dance. Then, you can create a dance film that makes it look as if they were dancing together.
Questions for Discussion
- DUET VERSION: What was it like to create your duet? Did you face any challenges working with your partner? If so, how did you resolve them?
- SOLO VERSION: What was the process of creating a “duet,” or relationship based dance, with yourself or a prop? How did the process change the way you think about creating choreography.
- Which was your favorite relationship to explore in movement? Why?
- Which was your favorite relationship to watch as an audience member? Why?
Keep the fun going all season long with The Holistic Collection of Dance Games for the Winter Season, featuring 15 games celebrating winter, Christmas and the holidays, and Valentine’s Day.