Dance Activities for Kids


Move your feet to the jazz beat.
Move your feet to the jazz beat.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Set a toddler in front of a radio, and watch the dance activities for kids begin. Whether the music is hot or sweet, classical or Top 40, kids start moving with the beat. Dancing is easy, great exercise, and just plain fun for all ages. It's also a simple way to introduce kids to many different styles of music.

Your kids can take a musical journey from the fluid beauty of ballet to the hot rhythms of jazz dance, and from the insistent shaking beat of a Native American rain dance to the all-American clicking and clacking of tap dance. Find a style your kids like, and you'll be ready to dance through a rainy afternoon or even put on a show for the neighborhood.

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Ready to start tapping and twirling? Check the links below for some dance activities that your kids will enjoy:

Take a Turn at Ballet

Capture the fluid grace of spins and turns to classical music.

Groove with Jazz Dance

Get down to the sound of crooning clarinets and swaying trombones.

Shake with a Rain Dance

Kids might bring some needed rain when they pick up the beat of a pow-wow.

Step into Tap Dance

Kids will sound like they've tapped off the stage of a Hollywood musical when they learn these swift steps.

Take a turn at graceful ballet -- discover how on the next page.

For more fun dance and theater activities and crafts, check out:

Take a Turn at Ballet

Try some ballet moves.
Try some ballet moves.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Looking graceful and flowing with the music can be hard work, but encourage kids take a turn at ballet just the same -- the results are worth it. You'll find this can be one of the most dramatic dance activities for kids. It's a good workout, too!

What You'll Need:

  • Soft, flexible shoes or socks.
  • Music from your favorite ballet.
  • Smooth floor.
  • Mirror (optional)

Step 1: Begin by slowly stretching out your arms, torso, back, legs, ankles, and feet. Don't bounce.

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Step 2: Listen to your selected music as you warm up your muscles. Imagine how you might dance to each part of the music. How would you move to soft parts? How would you move to fast, dramatic parts?

Step 3: When you're done warming up, start the music again and use your body to "interpret" what you hear.

Ready to move beyond classical? Keep reading to find out how you can groove with jazz dance.

For more fun dance and theater activities and crafts, check out:

Groove with Jazz Dance

Anything goes with jazz dancing.
Anything goes with jazz dancing.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Kids can move to their own groove with jazz dance, one of the coolest dance activities for kids! Pick up the beat, grab the mood, and strut to classic jazz, bebop, or Dixieland swing. Use the basement or family room for your kids' personal jazz club.

What You'll Need:

  • Comfortable shoes
  • Fast or slow jazz music
  • Smooth floor
  • Mirror (optional)

Step 1: Help kids explore several types of jazz music by finding radio stations that play jazz. Find the kind of music they feel like dancing to.

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Step 2: Listen to the rhythm, and then try to follow it with your feet and other parts of your body. Be creative!

Step 3: If you want, practice in front of a mirror to refine your moves. You can "interpret" the music with your steps and with your movements.

If you're hoping for rain or just want to get kids connected with African and Native American tradition, look on the next page for a rainmaker craft and rain dance.

For more fun dance and theater activities and crafts, check out:

Shake with a Rain Dance

When the sun is too hot and the earth is too dry, it's time to shake with a rain dance, a dance activity for kids in the tradition of Native American and African peoples. Start by making a Uganda-style rainmaker's shaker, and then dance and play music to invite the skies to send rain! Whether it works or not, the kids still will have fun while getting some exercise.

What You'll Need:

  • Cardboard tube
  • Stapler
  • Beans, buttons, or other small objects
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush

Step 1: Staple one end of a cardboard tube closed.

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Step 2: Fill the tube with beans, buttons, or other small objects that will make noise when the tube is shaken.

Step 3: Staple the other end closed to seal the rattle.

Step 4: Paint the tube, and let it dry.

Step 5: Invent a dance using the rainmaker, and invite the sky to send forth water!

For perpetual desk tappers or kids whose feet won't stay still, try tap dance for noise with a purpose. Keep reading to find out how to channel that untapped energy into dance.

For more fun dance and theater activities and crafts, check out:

Step into Tap Dance

Show your kids Gene Kelly in the movie musical Singing in the Rain, and they'll see one of the all-time best dancers step into tap dance. Turn this into one of your dance activities for kids, and you can tame restless feet and channel that energy into nonstop action. Make everyone's feet sing, just like in the old-time Broadway and Hollywood musicals.

What You'll Need:

  • Comfortable, old pair of shoes
  • Self-adhesive metal heel clips from the shoe accessories department
  • Concrete floor, patio, or sidewalk
  • Your favorite music

Step 1: Help kids turn an old pair of shoes into tap shoes by attaching self-adhesive metal heel clips. (Don't use nails!)

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Step 2: Attach the clips to the toes, balls of the foot, and heels. Tap dancers use these and other areas of the foot while doing their step combinations.

Step 3: For beginning tap, first practice walking only on the balls of your feet, with your heels in the air. Like the sound?

Step 4: Place only the ball of one foot on the floor. This is called a "step."

Step 5: Transfer your weight to the ball of one foot, and let your heel down with a "click" sound. This is called a "heel."

Step 6: Try this beginning combination slowly: While standing in place, step right, heel right. Step left, heel left. Step right, heel right. Step left, heel left.

Step 7: Practice the combination until you feel a rhythm. When you feel comfortable, try picking up speed.

Step 8: Try walking that way with music. Very cool, huh? You might even consider a beginning class just for fun.

For more fun dance and theater activities and crafts, check out: