How to write a dance lesson plan

5 Powerful ways to create Dance lesson plans |

One of the hardest things about teaching the Arts in Primary schools is balancing the ‘tried and true’ lesson plans with exploring something risky and new.  As most teachers will attest to, the first time you do a lesson with a class has the potential to go really wrong.

Some of the anxiety in delivering a new learning approach, lesson plan or even single activity, can be reduced by the use of creativity in the planning stage of the lesson.

I know I’ve written about dance lesson planning many times, but it is a crucial part of effective and creative lesson implementation. Beginning and experienced teachers alike, will be continually reflecting on how they plan lessons to find inspiring, valuable and more time efficient ways of delivering lessons.

Planning a dance lesson definitely gets easier over time.  But it’s useful to think of it as an ongoing process rather than something set in stone.


Using The Dance Lesson Formula, is a good place to start.  This lays solid foundations and ensures you are covering the most valuable elements of the lesson.

But how do you keep coming up with strategies, themes and the many different ways of presenting movement ideas in your classroom?

Here are some ways to stay fresh and keep adding value to your lesson planning.


To keep modelling creative practice in your classrooms, you need to stay creative in your own bodies.  Keep improvising movement yourself to uncover new ways to feel and experience dance.

As you improvise, challenge your own movement language. Try contrasting movements that may not be comfortable for you and then decide if they can be linked to an appropriate theme, concept or used to teach about an element or choreographic device.

Be inspired by the movements of your students.  Watching your class as they explore movement in other dance activities, may be a starting point for a new way to present or engage with dance learning.   Encourage them to improvise within a framework that supports trying new things.

Also be open to improvising within your lesson plan.   Including a list of important questions, as a part of your written lesson plan, will help you to keep in mind the learning focus of these improvisations.


Keep adding the words listed below to every activity that you lead with your students.  Their investigations, answers and subsequent questions may lead you to using a new teaching strategy or to exploring a different aspect of movement.

‘what if we?’

 ‘let’s try…’

‘what happens when…?’

By delving into new ideas with your students, you become even more passionate about the subject.  This could also lead to further artistic development in your own practice.


 Take an activity you’ve done previously and see if you can extend it in another direction.  Asking the students to come up with ideas about what else you could do is a valuable tool to extending your ideas and seeing things from other perspectives.

It also acts to engage the students and empowers them to lead their own inquiries.  The teacher encourages children to be investigators and researchers by acknowledging that they do not know everything.


Collect everything.  You never know when an object from a cheap shop, a piece of music heard in the background, a piece of fabric or a children’s book will be the catalyst for a creative dance activity, lesson, or unit of work.

When you are reading online, save snippets of information, phrases, expressions, and interesting perspectives in a journal.  These can be inspirational.


Find an element of the curriculum; a dance element, a choreographic device, or theme and try to think of everything you could do around that topic.  Treat this as an improvisation or a creative writing ‘quick write’activity.

All the information and ideas may not be fully formed, but it helps you to sort through what you already know.  Having these ideas on hand supports the necessary Backup Plan if Plan A doesn’t quite go the way you expected.

For example if you were going to create a series of lessons that explore ‘unison’ for a Year 5/6 class.

Firstly, write down everything you know about dancing in unison.  Remember to include the contexts of Performing, Choreographing and Responding.

A ‘quick write’ about Unison in dance.

Unison is two or more dancers performing a movement at the same time.

Unison does not have to be facing the same way or on the same level.

You can use unison to purposely change the focus, if one person is not dancing in time with someone else.

Unison means the choreographer can change the meaning by the use of contrast.  The contrast between the uniformity of moving in unison, to being unbound and performing individual movements.

Unison makes the dance look neat, precise, and organised.

An example of the use of unison is Jerome Robbins work, Antique Epigraphs or Antony Hamilton’s, Forever and Ever.

Performing in unison requires dancers to have a heightened sense of awareness.  They need to use their peripheral vision and spatial awareness.

When rehearsing performances in unison you need to concentrate on timing, counting, and spend time really listening to the music.

Breaking a movement down by counts, as in ‘1 and a’, will mean that all dancers know what they should be doing on each count.

Performing in unison means that you develop skills in teamwork. It is important to perform every rehearsal with 100% concentration.  What one person does in the dance, affects the whole group.

Unison can mean performing in line and in sync.  For it be most effective every arm line, every head movement and every angle of the body needs to be in time and the same.

Rehearsing for dancing in unison highlights the importance of not always practicing in a mirror.  The dancers need to be aware of each other without being able to see each other.

Unison needs energy so that it has life and is not just robotic.

Then decide what the focus of the learning will be.  What are your most important questions?  Then you can choose the most suitable vehicle to explore these ideas. In dance, this may start with choosing between using Performing, Choreographing and Responding or a combination of all of these.

In this example of learning about unison, the focus could be on using unison as a performance skill.  This warm up would begin to have the students thinking about how they respond to each other and how they change the rhythm of their bodies to synchronize and respond to each dancer.

Improvised Unison Dance Activity

Start the warm up with a simple mirroring activity, in pairs, where each dancer takes turns in following their partner.

When they are concentrating and focused, do a ‘schooling activity’, that requires the dancers to move together like a school of fish. Begin the warm up with a leader who changes the direction of the locomotor movement

The teacher can change that leader at any time and the other dancers must follow.  It is best to start this warm up by walking, then pick up the pace.  You can then change to any loco motor movement.

Finally repeat with no designated leader.  They must feel someone change the direction and go with them.

This warm up requires a sense of relaxation in the body rather than tension. Being ready to move in any direction, by transferring the weight.


In this next activity, the dancers are exploring how using unison as a choreographic device may be used to manipulate movements.  The complications introduced as a part of the movement problem, demonstrate how unison, as a choreographic device, may be layered within a dance composition.

Choreographic Unison Dance Activity

In this lesson, two groups develop two separate unison movement phrases.  Begin the activity by getting each group to explore non locomotor body isolations to a set count.

Using a techno piece of music will help to keep a strong focus on timing and ensure that both groups have the same amount of movement material. It also encourages the dynamic to be more percussive, which is easier to rehearse in unison.

These movements are then developed to travel to the other side of the space.  Ensure that each group is traveling in the opposite direction.

The students then decide how they may make these two separate movement phrases happen at the same time. They will need to organise themselves within the space to cross over to the other side of the room.

The use of techno music to perform this will also create opportunities to compare their choreography to that of Antony Hamilton’s ForEver and Ever. 

I have been obsessed with unison for my whole career. Not just unison as a thing but unison as an idea. What do we mean by unison? What could be a version of unison that we don’t normally call unison?   Antony Hamilton

Lesson planning is crucial to effective teaching.  After each lesson, reflect, and evaluate how you may improve the lesson for future students.

Creating Primary dance lessons can be a continuation of your artistic practice.  Think of lesson planning as a way to nurture your own creativity. By keeping these simple things in mind, this process will become easier over time.

Ideas for Planning a Dance Lesson |

Kym Articles, Dance Resources Dance Education, Dance Lesson Plans


Every dance lesson begins in the planning stage.  At university, planning one lesson seems to take forever!  With experience this gets easier as we develop our own ‘formula’ for putting a lesson together.

But what is that formula when creating a dance lesson plan?  How can we use our knowledge of lesson planning in other curriculum areas to develop quicker ways to identify what’s important in a dance lesson?

The important questions that frame a dance lesson plan.

These are a few questions that will assist in putting together your own dance lesson formula.  These questions will equip you with a mindfulness about the teaching strategies you are using.  They will encourage you to be reflective in your planning and encourage a freedom for you and your students to do something different in the learning environment.

What is your stimulus, theme or topic?

A great starting place is identifying a stimulus.  This could be something you’re are doing in other areas of the curriculum.  HASS, Literacy and Numeracy all link very well with dance.  Children understand through the body and communicate more advanced knowledge through showing.

Your starting point may just be about the body moving or specific areas of the dance curriculum.   You might begin by identifying what students are yet to know or understand.

Alternatively, they could be learning how to use known information or strategies in a different context.  Doing this discovers how deep your students’ understanding is. This is where integrating dance with other learning areas becomes really interesting!

What stimulus is going to be not only engaging but inspire inquiry and meaning making?  Is it thought provoking?

Try to find an idea that links to the curriculum you are using and that you can apply the follow questions to.

What might this dance lesson achieve?

Essential to any class is the learning intention of the lesson.  What are the outcomes and learnings you hope to accomplish in the lesson?  What will success look like at the end of the process?

Consider what the students should be able to do with the content.  Are the skills transferable?

Modelling and showing examples are important to the lesson plan as you want to let the students know in advance what they need to do to accomplish success. However, in the Arts there are often multiple ways of solving the same problem.

Avoid showing what the class will achieve but rather focus on the individual or team investigation of the movement problem or task.  It maybe more valuable to note there could be a range of equally acceptable goals for the lesson.

In dance you could be aiming for a performance outcome.  This could culminate in a formal performance for parents or community or a more informal showing for peers or another class.

You will require rehearsal if you are going to perform the dance for others outside the class.  Without adequate rehearsal the dance activity may end up being a negative experience for both students and teacher.

When teaching Choreography or making dance the students explore the possibilities of the stimulus within scaffolded activities that make transparent the artistic processes of making dance.  This could involve a combination of learning about the elements of dance and some ways of forming or organising the movement material that the students develop.

If the intention of the lesson is about responding to dance, you need to consider whether they will respond to their own or others’ dances. If they are viewing professional choreographers work or the work of their peers, they will need to be supported in how they observe.  This approach is similar to how you would lead them through responding to text.

Be clear about how using the stimulus, theme or topic will achieve the planned learning intentions.

What part of the dance curriculum will be the focus of this dance lesson plan?

Go to the curriculum you are work in and make sure it aligns to the area you plan to teach about.

In the Primary dance classroom, it is always good to have a focus or one or more Elements of Dance for each lesson.  This ensures that you are unfolding each element from multiple perspectives.

The activity ideas for teaching about using cannons in dance choreography are a good example of this approach.

Will you be using examples of professional dance works as examples or perhaps previous student work?  Ensure that these examples show the focus of lesson clearly.

What life skills could students be learning in this dance lesson?

The obvious skills involved with participating in a dance activity are learning about dance as an art form, our culture communities and the society in which we live.  However, there are many life skills that could be one of the learning intentions of your dance lesson.

Being specific in the planning stage about what your success criteria will be for these life skills, will bring clarity to the dance classroom.

Here are some life skills you may consider:

Communication and interpersonal skills including assertiveness or use of self-control.
Emotional intelligence skills, for example, self-awareness and empathy
Critical thinking skills
Creative thinking skills
Problem solving skills
Decision making skills
Resilience and the ability to cope with problems


What could this dance lesson develop into?

You should also consider the form that the lesson will take and how you will assess the learning that takes place.

Have you incorporated a range of independent and group activities?

Are students asked to communicate through movement?

Is it a standalone lesson or part of a series of lessons or whole unit of work?

How will you develop authentic arts assessment that measures significant arts learnings and behaviours?

Might it take the student inquiry deeper and therefore need to adaptable enough to be stretched across several lessons?

Is it able to show how the students will use their new knowledge and understandings and improved performance or does it need a subsequent lesson/s?

The dance lesson plan should lead to greater student understanding of a topic, concept or idea.

Try to predict some of the misconceptions that students may have around the subject for exploration and include strategies to overcome them as a part of the lesson plan structure.

What are the relevant skill levels of the students?

You need to look at what you have planned so far about your learning intentions and decide what the students need to know and be able to do at the start in order to be successful at the end.   This means offering multiple ways for children, regardless of their starting point to extend and improve.

Students need to be given opportunities to use their own judgement within their individual skill level.

Ensure that the stimulus has the potential for inquiry, engagement and growth and that lesson offers support and challenge.

What are the ways you and your students are going to gather evidence of success?

Reflecting, implementing and evaluating are important for both teachers and students.  Ensure that each of these are a part of your lesson planning.

What opportunities are there for your students to reflect throughout the lesson?

Are the activities you have planned able to unfold the learning and then apply it in practice?

Are there planned opportunities for targeted feedback throughout the lesson?

Are your students a part of the evaluation process both in the planning stage and the implementation?

The information gathered through these processes will enable you to deduct the kinds of concepts that students will be able to recall and reuse overtime.

Successful dance lesson planning

Planning a dance lesson is a rewarding and creative part of primary school teaching practice.  The steps are the same as any other part of the curriculum.  It should reflect your understandings of teaching and learning principles and best practice.

And as with other lessons of inquiry, these dance lessons are dynamic in nature.  They can be used again in the future but will change and be added to over time.

Teachers need to be agile in their planning to reflect evolving research into teaching practice and to respond to students’ changing interests and needs.

Having these questions as a part of your planning will assist how you reflect and revise the lesson in the future.  This is not a definitive list but a good starting place.

Confidence in creating an arts-rich teaching program can be built over time and you can find a wide range of ideas and ready-made dance lessons in Dance Teaching Ideas to help you get started. View the Dance teaching resources with lessons already prepared for you.

Outline of a music lesson Grade 2 "Dancing, dancing, dancing..."

Open music lesson

Grade 2

"Dancing, dancing, dancing..."

Completed by: music teacher

Devyatova I.V. Kritskaya, G.P. Sergeeva, T.S. Shmagina

Purpose of the lesson: to introduce students to the genres of dance music and convey the emotional content of musical works

Lesson objectives:


- comparing different dances, identifying similar and different features in their music;

- to form and develop singing skills.


- develop rhythmic hearing, the ability to listen to the nature of music, develop creative thinking, attention, memory.


- to educate performing and listening culture;

- to cultivate interest in the music of Russian composers.

Lesson type: expanding knowledge

Type of lesson: lesson - travel

Expected results:


- to identify the main genres of music by ear, to perform the characteristic features of music, to perform by ear.


- be able to express an opinion about the content and nature of musical works.


-demonstrate the emotional and figurative content of music.

Equipment : laptop, TV, visual material (reflection)

Musical material: pieces from P.I.

Slide 1

Organizational moment


W: Good afternoon!

D: Good afternoon!

W, D: We talk every day.

With these words,


Review of the material covered

- Guys, please remind me the topic of our last lesson? (nature and music)

- Please answer the questions:

- what do artists paint with? (with paints)

- what do poets draw with? (in words)

- what do composers draw with? (sounds)

Introduction to the topic of the lesson

-And now, guys, I suggest you solve the puzzle that you see on the board. You are given one minute.

Solving a puzzle

-What did you do? (dancing)

-That's right, dancing. What do you think we will talk about in class today?

-That's right. Today at the lesson we will talk about dancing. We will compare them, highlighting similar and different features. The topic of our lesson is called “Dancing, dancing, dancing…” slide 2

Let's write the topic in a notebook.

Learning new material.

- What do you guys think, why does our theme sound not just dances, but dances, dances, dances and dots?

- Do you guys like to dance?

-What dances do you already know?

-Do you like to travel?

Today we will go to the countries that are the birthplace of ancient dances - the Czech Republic, Vienna and Russia.

But before we go on a journey, pay attention to the screen. Slide 3

Who do you see? Who is it? (P.I. Tchaikovsky) slide 4

- That's right, guys. Well done! In the past lessons, we began to get acquainted with the children's album of P.I. Tchaikovsky. Who remembers who the composer dedicated this album to? (nephews)

Well done!!

-Now let's close our eyes. We open. Slide 5

And we are warmly welcomed by the Czech Republic. As you can see, this is a very beautiful country. And by the way very visited by tourists. In the Czech Republic there is the famous Karlštejn Castle ( slide 6 ) - one of the symbols of the royal period. In the Czech Republic, they are very fond of dancing a dance called the polka. Slide 7

Many of you probably think that the polka is a Polish dance. But no, guys, this dance appeared in the Czech Republic. This is a Czech dance. Please don't confuse.

Polka - pair dance at a fast pace. The polka rhythm requires you to move quickly from foot to foot.

- There is a piece in the "Children's Album" by P.I. Tchaikovsky called "Polka". Before we start listening to it, let's open our textbooks to page 24-25. You are given the rhythmic pattern of this dance. Let's try to clap the rhythm. Listen carefully to how I do it, and then we will repeat together.

- Excellent!

- And now, let's move on to listening to "Polka" from the "Children's Album" by P.I. Tchaikovsky.

Listening to "Polka" P.I. Tchaikovsky

-How did the play sound? What is her character?

-Now let's get up and try to dance the polka.


- Well done! And it's time for us to continue our journey. We are expected in the main palace of the next country - Vienna. Slide 8

-What kind of dance do you think we will get acquainted with?

-That's right, waltz. Slide 9

In fact, Germany is considered the birthplace of the waltz, but the waltz became popular in Vienna.

Waltz is considered a ballroom dance!

- Let's look at the rhythmic pattern of the waltz in the textbook. Let's slam!

-Let's turn again to Tchaikovsky's "Children's Album". Let's listen to Waltz. While listening to the piece, your task is to depict with hand movements - smooth movements, feeling the rhythm, you can also sway your body.

Listening to "Waltz" P.I. Tchaikovsky

-How did the waltz sound? What is he?

- Is the waltz similar to the polka? And what is the difference?

- Well, now, guys, it's time for us to return to our homeland. What country do we live in? What is it called? Slide 10

- Well done! Let's get acquainted with the Russian folk dance - Kamarinskaya. Slide 11

This dance is based on step movements. The foot is placed on the heel, then on the toe. Hands are placed on the belt, then spread apart. There is also an element of crouching, jumping, spinning and walking in a circle. During the dance, the dancer claps his hands, on his stomach and on his heels.

- Look at the textbook. This dance also has a rhythmic pattern. Let's listen and then repeat.

-Tchaikovsky's "Children's Album" also contains this dance. "Kamarinskaya". Attention to the screen. Slide 12

Hearing "Kamarinskaya" by P.I. Tchaikovsky.

- Well, what can you say about this dance? What is his character? Does it look like a polka or a waltz?

5. Summing up

-And now let's play a game, the first one is called "Guess the melody", and the second one is "Correct the mistake". To do this, we will be divided into teams, into groups! (divide into teams)

-Now I will give you the worksheets. You will not complete tasks together. We will do this using the excavator method. The first question is answered by those who sit at the first desk, then they send a piece of paper to the neighbor in the back, he answers the second question, and so all 6 people from the team will be able to answer the question and this will be your common work. In the first task, you must guess which piece sounds - polka, kamarinskaya or waltz. In the second task, you should connect the dance and the country in which this dance appeared with an arrow. As soon as the last person from the team answers the question, he must send the piece of paper back.

Well, let's get started! (playing) slide 13

- Now answer me all in unison, what is the name of the composer whose plays we listened to today?

- Well done!

-Well, now, I would like to ask you to exchange notebooks with your neighbor and evaluate his work in today's lesson. Draw a sun in his notebook under the topic, if you think that he worked a lot and well today, draw a cloud if he did not work in class, and if you think that he worked, but not enough, draw both the sun and the cloud.

6. Vocal and choral work

-Let's move on to singing. But what do we need to do before we start singing?

-That's right, prepare your voice box.

1. Articulation

2. Respiratory gymnastics

3. Rassery

4. Peni

Slide 14

7. Reflection

-Now in the rows I will invite you to the board so that you are hooked a magnet to the plate, how you worked today in the lesson.

I worked at the lesson a lot and with enthusiasm;
I was interested but not very active;
I didn't work very well today, but I will be more active in the next lesson.

Slide 15

Musical farewell:

- The bell has rung!

The lesson is over!



- Thank you all for the lesson! You all did great work today! Well done!

Outline of the open lesson on choreography "Dance in a new way!"

Subject: "Dance in a new way!"

Name of the creative association: Association "Rhythms of the Planet"

Composition of the study group: 15 people, 11–14 years old

Date: November 15, 2019

Venue: MBUDO "Center for the Development of Creativity", choreography hall.

Lesson form: practical lesson.

Form of organization of work: group, individual.

Logistics: hall, interactive whiteboard, canvas, pastel, computer, music center, music selection, gymnastic mats.

Goal : Development of creative imagination, the ability to interact artistically with dance through fine art, dance movement.

Main tasks:

  1. Educational:

- learn the basic movements of Hip-Hop;

- to teach the basic technique of muscle work in this direction.

  1. Educational:

- promote the development of plasticity, coordination, endurance, muscle tone, sense of rhythm;

- to promote the development of creative abilities.

- develop emotional responsiveness when performing dance.

  1. Educators:

- contribute to the formation of a good mood, positive emotions during the lesson.

Lesson progress

  1. Organizational moment

The teacher enters the hall, invites the children to the hall. Students form in a semicircle.

Teacher: Hello, I'm glad to see you, let's greet each other with a bow.


Today we will have an unusual lesson, we will try to draw a dance.

Dance is a kind of art that gives rise to many emotions, various feelings in the human soul. Tell me, would you like to look into the soul of another person, to know his world, feelings, experiences?

But we cannot do this.

Today I will show you how to do it.

Art will come to our aid. With the help of brushes, palettes, paints, on paper, you can depict the inner world, feelings. And we will draw dances, namely hip-hop!

We will work in groups:

Group 1 - artists

group 2 - dancers

And in the next lesson, we will change the places of the groups.

Before we start our creativity, let's do a warm-up.

  1. Warm-up

Swinging the body to the tempo of the music, legs together (“swing” back and forth)

- "Kach" from side to side, legs together;

- "Kach" on the sides in a wide setting of the legs;

- Steps to the beat of the music with high knees to the right, to the left;

- Work alternately with the right and left hand to the sides to the beat of the music.

  1. Main body

Teacher: And now let's divide into two groups: artists and dancers.

The teacher divides the children into groups

Teacher: Artists, your task is to carefully observe the dance movements, feel and try to depict the dance on this canvas. Paints, a palette, brushes, sponges will help us with this, draw what you see.

And you dancers, try to convey as much as possible the whole essence of the Hip-hop dance, all its moments, explosions, plasticity and beauty.

Take your seats. I ask each of the groups to start the task!

Hip-hop dance lessons

  1. Basic element "Step"

- springy lunges forward from the leg stance together;

- springy lunges to the right from the leg stance together;

- springy lunges to the left;

- swing (throwing) hands forward and to the sides;

- performing a hip-hop step from side to side with hand movements;

- performing a hip-hop step forward with hand movements;

– taking a hip-hop step forward, following clear rules;

hip-hop step control.

  1. Base element Toprock

- 1 step of the right foot to the right, 2 steps the left foot crosswise with the right foot stands on the heel;

- on 3 the right leg steps to the left, on 4 the left leg crosses with the right foot on the heel;

- hands on 1 make a cross in front of the body, on 2 they sharply move apart to the sides;

- the body leans back on 1 (extension of the leg), on 2 it becomes exactly in the center.


And now we will study the elements of Hip-hop: "Crocodile" and "Hook".

Tricks performed on gymnastic mats

Element "Crocodile":

- the right hand rests on the press with the elbows, and with the palm on the floor, we transfer the weight of the body to the right hand;

- the left hand is bent at the elbow and retracted to the left, the palm rests on the floor;

- the right shoulder rests on the floor, we tear off the right leg from the floor, evenly lifting it up, we put the left leg on the left elbow.

Children perform an element.

Element "Sweep":

- all the weight on the right leg, sit down on it, take the left leg exactly to the side;

- hands in the center on the floor;

- the left leg gradually undercuts the arms and the supporting leg and makes a circle.

Children perform an element.

And now we will arrange a dance battle based on the previously studied elements of Hip-Hop.

Dance Battle

Improvisation to music.

  1. Summing up

Teacher: And now, let's see what the artists managed to depict on canvas.

What words can you use to describe the resulting picture?

Were the artists able to convey the character of music, energetic dance with paints?

Children's answers.

Teacher: Dancers, applause for artists, artists, applause for dancers. Everyone did an excellent job. We got a joint work when two arts intertwined together, isn't that great?

Teacher: Thank you for the lesson. I want to tell you, be creative, dance, draw, sing, it will make your life even brighter, more interesting and more amazing.

The lesson is over.

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