Halloween: Dancing With The Skeletons

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This is a choreography song… A Halloween dance number. There are almost no words to to this song. When you listen to the mp3 file, you’ll notice sections of the song are numbered: a voice will say 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. For example, here are the dance directions for Section 1: Hold both arms out, but bent at the elbows, hands pointing to the ground. Turn slowly around in a circle.

Once students in groups learn Section 1, they have an example. They can begin choreographing the remaining 7 sections of the song. Play the song. Assign one section per group. Their dance must be simple enough that they can write the instructions on the board or on poster paper. We want all dance “steps” on the board so that the entire class can perform the dance, following the instructions.

For basic learners, the directions for one section might be as simple as “Put your right hand on your head.” More advanced groups may write, “Raise your left leg, open your mouth like a fish, jump up and down.” Perform the dance together, reading the directions from the board. Later, perhaps even the next day when the instructions have been erased, ask students to re-create them – the whole dance, either writing the instructions as best they can in pairs, or verbally.

Real skeletons have been creating dances this way for centuries. This activity is still very popular at traditional skeleton weddings. But wait. Is this an effective activity for language learning? Well, students will have to create language describing movement, write the directions on the board for all to see, listen and follow others’ directions, with the physical movements reinforcing the meaning of the language. That ain’t bad.

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