Teaching Kids Easy Cultural Dance Steps

Children learn to express feelings when they dance.
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Teaching cultural dance to children is a great way to increase their understanding of diverse people and places. Since most cultures have a dance that is unique, children can identify with that culture through movement. Children grow in their own self-awareness and expand cognitive learning at the same time. Finally, dance is a creative outlet that allows for individuality. Engaging children in cultural dance allows them to express themselves freely without fear of judgement from others. This is a hallmark of teaching diversity awareness.

1 Filipino Folk Dance

Try teaching the cross step as a fundamental start to teaching Filipino folk dance. Use waltz music or music in ¾ time. Ask your students to line up with enough space between them to raise their arms to shoulder level. Break down the dance as follows: Count One. Pick up the right foot and step to the right. Count Two. Drag the left foot over and place it in front of the right. Count Three. Put your weight on the left foot. Repeat this slowly and then gradually pick up the tempo. Have the students count out loud and then try it with the music.

2 Macedonia Folk Dance

Macedonia folk dances are steeped in vibrant Greek traditions. This dance has a few more steps, but if you teach it slowly and review along the way, your students will catch on quickly. 1. Angle to the right corner and touch your right toe to the middle of your left foot. 2. Walk forward four steps and then turn forward and take two steps to the right. 3. Raise your left foot and then put it by the right. 4. Angle right and point your toes to the ceiling. Angle left and do the same. 5. Angle right and take three steps to the back. Repeat steps 1-5.

3 Salsa Dance

Salsa dancing celebrates Latin American culture. The following dance emphasizes the off beats of the first three beats of each measure. For example, feel the music as "and one, and two and three." 1. Move your right foot back and lean forward on your left. 2. Move your right foot forward and lean in. 3. Move your left foot forward and lean back on your right. 4. Move your left foot back and lean back. Repeat.

4 Hula Dance

Give your students a taste of Hawaii by sharing a fundamental hula dance. 1. Step with your right foot to the side two times. Step to the left two times. Your arms should make waves in the same direction as your feet (to the right and to the left). 2. Put your hands in your pockets and move forward two steps. 3. Repeat step one and offer your hands to the audience as if spreading out a blanket. 4. Move your hips side to side and put your hands on your heart. 5. Repeat step one. You can alter this dance by repeating the basics of step one and using your hands to make gestures that tell a story. Have your students do this and explain the story they have created.

Dr. Kelly Meier earned her doctorate from Minnesota State Mankato in Educational Leadership. She is the author and co-author of 12 books and serves as a consultant in K-12 and higher education. Dr. Meier is is a regular contributor for The Equity Network and has worked in education for more than 30 years. She has numerous publications with Talico, Inc., DynaTEAM Consulting, Inc. and Kinect Education Group.