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Back to School with Newspaper Dancing

Hurray!  We are back in school and back to making music!  This week my students learned how to do the newspaper dance.  We started with a section of the paper, unfolding it and laying it flat.  This was our "dance floor".  Students then could dance in their space.  Before we started, each group decided what they considered to be "dancing".  Most groups said that to be dancing you had to move your arms and legs in some fashion.

And so the dancing began...
Now, as fun as that was...it was just getting started.  Next, we stepped off the newspaper and folded it in half and stepped on again.  After a while, students had to move in very creative ways to stay on the newspaper.
We had a great time defining "dance", practing making the fraction 1/2 and movin' and groovin' to some great tunes.  With older students we created math sentences like "We are standing in 1/8th of the space that we started on."

Some of my favorite tunes to use with this activity:
"I Like to Move It" by Crazy Frog
"Thank God I'm a Country Boy" by John Denver
"Get Jiggy Wit It" by Will Smith
"Happy" by Pharrell Williams
"Best Years of Our Lives" by Baha Men
"The Twist" by Chubby Checker
"Goofy Goober Rock" by Spongebob
"Walk Like an Egyptian" by the Bangles
"Everything is AWESOME" from the Lego Movie
"Boot Scootin' Boogie" by Brooks and Dunn

Are you looking for movement ideas for that first week of school?  How about ribbon dancing?  You can create really inexpensive ribbons or streamers with plastic table cloths and pencils (or chopsticks or dowel rods or something of similar size.  Check out THIS blog post to learn how to make them.  Then check out these:

This collection includes cards with pictures and cards with word prompts to use with your students.  Pass out your scarves, ribbons or streamers and start the music.  Then hold up the cards and let students choose how to interpret them.

I also love to use other sets of movement cards that don't always have one correct way of being interpreted.  I have several sets of Freeze Dance and Creative Movement cards that you might be interested in.


  1. Awesome idea! Thank you so much for sharing. I have seen this with hoola hoops but newspaper is so much easier!
    stop by some time :)

  2. Thanks for sharing!
    I am your newest follower! I am a new blogger and love connecting with other upper grade teachers!

    Fancy Free in Fourth

  3. Great idea! I'm going to try this!

  4. Great idea! Would you share some of the tunes that you moved to?

  5. Gettin' Jiggy Wit It by Will Smith
    Rock Around the Clock
    Fun, Fun, Fun -Beach Boys
    Thank God I'm a Country Boy
    We Got the Beat
    That's the Way I Like It
    ...there were more I just can't remember them! :-)

  6. Wonderful idea and very tangible way to reinforce "personal space." Karen


  7. Love this idea, so stealing it! Please please please post about your lap packs - I'm a music teacher without a classroom, and this looks like something that could be really helpful!

  8. What a wonderful idea I can share with my daughter's second grade teacher. I can also work this into a fractions lesson for my preservice teachers.

  9. What a great idea. I will have to share this with my daughter's second grade teacher. I can also work in a fractions lesson with my preservice teachers.

  10. I am an elementary school counselor and love this idea. I have done hula hoops, but the kids would love to be able to dance as well as learn the personal space lesson. Thank you

  11. As a Pre-K teacher we talk about "personal space bubbles"...this would be a great way to illustrate and have them understand it in a visual way...thanks for the idea.

  12. Excellent idea with minimal resources! Thanks for sharing! Lisa from Blackburn Primary School Melbourne, Australia

  13. Excellent idea with minimal resources! Thanks for sharing! Lisa from Blackburn Primary School Melbourne, Australia

  14. This is a great idea. I plan to use it in my social skills classes to help us defeat the Unthinkable, Space Invader. I just started a blog, look for a link to your great idea there!


  15. Fun and creative way to reinforce the concept of personal space!Thanks for sharing.

  16. great idea! thanks for sharing:) definitely using it for my movement class:) would love to hear more ideas too:) thanks again:)

  17. This is genius! Thank you so much for sharing your ideas!

  18. This is a great activity that could also connect with the musical, Newsies! They dance on newspapers in the Broadway version!

  19. Fun, creative, purposeful. Love it!!! Thanks for sharing!

  20. awesome idea..I'm so going to try this... thx for sharing :)

  21. I'm going to try this with grades 1 and 2 the first week of school. (3rd grade has chorus first half of year so we don't begin with music class until Feb.) But, I'm so greedy for time with them since we meet once a week that I feel like this is lacking in substance for my kids, so I'm going to add a rhythm reading element to review from last year. When the music stops, they freeze and have to do some rhythm reading performance as well. Did you use the entire song or just parts of different songs? How long did you play until they changed their paper? And, how long was the full activity? Thank you in advance!

  22. This is a great back to school activity for a couple of reasons. First, it allow students to move and be silly in a controlled manner. To prep them you discuss what dancing and creative movement can look like. Refer back to this conversation throughout the year when someone is just tapping a toe or is going crazy running around the room. Secondly, it can be scary to get up and get moving. This is a great way to get kids thinking about their personal space, which just happens to fit nicely onto the newspaper before it is folded. Use this alllll year long as a reference to what their personal space area is. So, it may lack in-depth theory or music reading, but the substance comes in the groundwork you are laying for future activities.

    I select different pieces of music throughout the activity. By using different genres/styles students get to experiment with different ways to move (ballet, headbanging, disco, etc...). You don't have to do it this way, but I like to mix it up. I play anywhere from 20-45 seconds for each turn and then we fold our papers and begin again. We talk about the fraction we are making each time in the older grade. Younger students just work on folding in half. This activity takes about 8-10 minutes. Well that's not true! LOL. With some groups it takes three turns and then everyone is out. *giggle* I usually PLAN 10 minutes and we just play as much as we can in that time.

  23. Great Idea! Would this be too "silly" for my 6th graders? You know how they can be silly one minute and then think it's totally uncool the next lol.

    1. I don't know. For mine it was VERY competitive. I'm not sure if that was the best, but it did keep them all dancing and trying to the end. Even when there was NO way they could stand on the newspaper because it had been folded so small, they tried!

  24. I can't wait to try this with my preschool class! I know we will have a wonderful time learning and dancing! Thank you!

  25. Overall that's amazing thoughts.

  26. Amazing Idea! I work with young adults and this can also work to get them going.
    Thank you.