Upper-grade elementary and middle-school teachers often include lessons on the disco era in their social studies curriculum. As a teacher, you can decorate your classroom with album covers and cultural icons that symbolize the time period. Involve your class in creating the decorations, so students learn about fashion and music preferences during that time.
Discuss how discos were popular hangouts for young adults in the 1970s. Show your class photos of discos, or ask them to spend a class period researching them on the Internet or in the school library. You might show a couple of dance clips from the movie "Saturday Night Fever," so students get a feel for the music, fashion and vibe. Host a disco-dress-up day at the end of the week, so your students have time to come up with costume ideas, such as colorful shirts, bell-bottom pants and platform shoes. Play disco music during the dress-up day, and allow students to try out their best disco moves.
Decorate your classroom with disco-inspired memorabilia. Discuss how discos promoted diversity -- men and women of different races, socioeconomic backgrounds, sexual preferences and political values coming together to dance and celebrate free expression. Provide 12-by-12-inch pieces of cardstock for students to use to make individual record album covers. Have students come up with their own band names and use bright colors, 1970s fonts and geometric shapes to design their covers. Hang the finished covers on the wall. Cover your windows with dark sheets and hang colored string lights around the room.
Have your students make individual reflective disco balls. Before class, spray paint 4-inch-diameter foam balls -- one for each student -- metallic silver, and allow them to dry. Provide aluminum foil, and ask students to cut 1/2-inch squares out of the foil and glue them to the foam balls. Leave a small space between each foil square, so they aren't quite touching. Unbend one end of a paperclip, place the straight end in the top of the ball and tie a ribbon around the exposed end of the paperclip. Hang the balls from the ceiling to add sparkle and ambiance to your disco-themed classroom.
Ask students to write lyrics to their own disco songs. Play some examples from the era, such as "You Should be Dancing" by the Bee Gees or "Le Freak" by Chic, Instruct students to write lyrics about dancing, free expression, hanging out with their friends and partying. Remind them that inappropriate lyrics aren't acceptable -- funny or silly lyrics are fine as long as they fit the era. Ask students to take turns reading their songs aloud to the class -- dance moves are optional.
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