Ready to get moving? Set up a series of fun dance activities — or start a club — at your school. Your dance activities can be held daily, weekly, or as special events that will bring your school community together in an exciting — and healthy — way!
Dance is a low-cost way to get people moving — and keep them moving and active for life! Starting a dance club at school or adding dance activities before during or after school are great ways to get more students moving. Dance gets people active and it’s been shown to help people connect and make the day more energized and fun!
- Study is nation's first to examine prevalence of dance among youth. 2011. Columbia, SC: Arnold School of Public Health, University of SC.
- Video Game-Based Exercise, Latino Children’s Physical Health, and Academic Achievement. 2013. American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
- Partnership for 21st Century Skills, in Becker, K.M. Dancing Through the School Day: How Dance Catapults Learning in Elementary Education. 2013. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance. (84:3).
- Cockeysville students step lively as youth ambassadors of dance. The Baltimore Sun. March 27, 2012.
Huddle up with your school's physical education teachers to help with ideas, scheduling and gym time. Remember to include the whole team: the principal to give your plan a thumbs up; community members and your school's parent organization to contribute games and other resources; and students to suggest activities and spread the word. The more people who want to participate, the more successful your program will be.
Talk with students, teachers and the administrators to plan regular and fun dance events that will get students excited about participating. Come up with a list of things you need from the community to make your program work — and last. Think about dance spaces, music, supervision, instruction and clean-up. Welcome families and community businesses or organizations to help you get the things you need to make your ideas come to life.
Get teachers on board! Maybe you can convince a few teachers to perform their own dance routines at lunch in the cafeteria. It will be fun for the teachers (and funny for the students) — and it will spread the word that your school supports healthy programs that encourage physical activity.
Organize a school challenge. Have different departments of the school (math, science, etc.) create a dance routine to be performed at lunch or during an assembly. Don’t forget to mention that dancing is both fun and healthy. That will encourage more people to participate.
Work with parents, community businesses or the PTA to turn your dance program into a fundraising program for your school. Or apply for Funds for Fuel Up to Play 60 to receive donations or loans of video games such as Dance Dance Revolution® (PS), Just Dance® (Wii) or Dance Central® (Xbox), or even full-blown, school-ready programs like HopSports®. Make the games available during special times during the day or set up a way for students to earn time to use them.
Plan school-wide dance events:
- Start a "Dance Walk" routine as a recess activity or for students to do as they walk to lunch, between classes or on their way out of school. This is a fun activity that will get everyone motivated to move more all day.
- Think about adding a monthly dance "theme" to P.E. classes, so students can learn new types of dance moves each month. Have individual classrooms come up with dance activity ideas, and ask the principal (or a committee) to pick a winning activity to highlight at school each month.
- Work with your school's sports teams and cheerleaders to come up with some school-spirit dance competitions. Ideas could include a contest for a new school dance theme, or the best school touchdown dance based on celebrations by your favorite NFL players. Challenge students to be like their favorite NFL players on "Dancing with the Stars".
Start a before- or after-school dance club.
- Contact your school district's arts or dance department for help. If you or your parents know someone at a local dance studio or college, try to partner up with them to have instructors come to school to teach different dances. (Be sure to work with a school administrator to make sure this idea works within your school’s policies.) Find volunteers to choose music for the classes, and to help with set-up and clean-up before and after each class. Consider asking your school band to join the project and play some of the dance music!
- Think about different types of dances and what's popular with students (like Zumba, Cupid Shuffle, Hoedown Throwdown and the Cha-Cha Slide).
- Invite adults in the school to demonstrate dances that were popular when they were in school. Consider a "dances through the decades" theme for a month or more, where students learn "old" dances and teachers/parents learn the new ones! Have students vote on different themes for each month, and teach a dance that goes with the winning theme.
Note: Each school has its own policy and/or guidelines about age-appropriate media. Be sure to work with adult decision makers in your school to consider appropriateness as you select songs and dances.
Spread the Word
Create posters to spread the word about your dance activity and put them up in high-traffic areas. Distribute flyers in classrooms and advertise your events and opportunities during morning announcements. Get the word out on your school's website, blog or in your school's eNewsletter. Remember: dancing is fun and your announcements should be fun, too!
- Identify areas in classrooms or other school locations where dance activities can be held
- Work with adult team members to organize ways to "sign out" and store dance videos or HopSports® games
- Talk with your principal about the process for inviting members of the community to help with the dance program at your school
- Publicize the dance program and get more classrooms involved
- Ask local businesses to help support the dance program
- Encourage friends and classmates to participate in the dance activities
Homefield Advantage provides useful, practical ways for parents and family members to get involved in making this Play a success — in school and at home! Click here for a printout that is ideal for students to take home to share!
This Play may help you meet the goals of the USDA's HealthierUS School Challenge!
Funding and Outfitting Your Play
What might help?
• Music and videos for dance demonstration
• Dance-related video games, video game consoles
• Culture-specific instruments (e.g., Djembe drums)
Funds for Fuel Up to Play 60
Up to $4,000 per year is available to qualified K-12 schools enrolled in Fuel Up to Play 60 to kickstart healthy changes!