Three favorite folk dances

Favorite folk dances for the music room: Three great folk dances for your elementary music lessons!

With the start of the new year, many of us are thinking about being more healthy and getting more exercise. As music teachers, we are very lucky that we aren't sitting behind a desk all day and can get up and dance with our students! Below are three of my all-time favorite folk dances, as well as three of my favorite folk dance resources. These dances are GREAT for getting exercise, working with a partner, understanding dance formations, keeping in time with music, and so much more!

“Highway No. 1” by the Shenanigans

This is one of my absolute favorites! You can buy the track on iTunes here, and the directions are within the song itself. Students simply listen, pretend to drive a car around the room, and make stops on Highway No. 1 (which is a highway that goes around the perimeter of Australia.) At each stop, students do motions, like “walk, walk, run, run, run,” or “step, together, wiggle.” Students really love this dance! I've used it at informances, at performances, and in class. The album also has a backing track which has space for students to make up their own motions! Here is a picture of my first graders from two years ago doing the dance:

I Love a Rainy Night

I found this dance in Sanna Longden's “More Folk Dance Music for Kids and Teachers,” which is now posted for free on her website. The dance is done with the song of the same name by Eddie Rabbitt. The first time I did this with my 5th graders, I was floored by how much they loved it! Many of them knew the song, even though it's from 1975, and they loved singing along as they danced!

After a discussion about why we did the dance, my 5th graders decided we should try it with “Feliz Navidad.” My favorite moment was when a kid yelled out, “It'll work if it's in 4/4!” (Yay for big ideas!) Although the tempo is a bit faster, it totally worked, so I had them perform it at our school-wide singalong!

‘T Smidje

I learned this dance a few years back from my good friend Andrew Ellingsen. Andrew is a master at sequencing folk dances; if you ever get a chance to have him present for your district or chapter, you should! Here is a video of the dance; you can purchase the music here:

For detailed directions for the dance as well as the song's meaning, check out David Row's fabulous post here.

And now for my three favorite folk dance resources! I call “Teaching Movement and Dance” the “Folk Dance Bible.” Click on it below to see it on West Music:

  You can purchase the CD's for the dances separately. It's initially an expensive purchase, BUT then you have them for years to come! Totally worth it!   Chimes of Dunkirk is another excellent purchase (as well as any book in the New England Dancing Masters series). The set includes the book with directions for several dances, as well as the accompanying CD:  

Sanna Longden's CD's and dances are great…and as stated above, she now has all of the directions for  her dances for free on her website! Click on “products” to purchase her CD's, and “teacher guides” to read the free directions.

Looking for more folk dance ideas? My Facebook group, Mrs. Miracle's Chat Room, discusses our folk dance favorites every Friday!

What are your favorite folk dances? Feel free to comment below, and happy dancing!

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