Classroom Tips

Dance curriculum tips, lesson activities, and template

If you are looking to open your own dance studio or you have just started your business teaching dance to children, building a strong curriculum is an important early step. Getting a sense of who and what you are teaching will help you develop marketing and branding strategies so you can bring in customers.

In this guide, we will outline everything you need to know to write a dance curriculum. We will also provide some of our Sawyer educators’ favorite face activities for kids and include a lesson plan template that you can edit for your own use. You will be twirling, tapping, and pirouetting with your students in no time!

How to write a dance curriculum

Writing a curriculum might feel overwhelming, but once you get started, it will flow right out of you! Starting with your curriculum is important. It allows you to establish the bigger picture and then you can dive in deeper with individual lesson plans.

We recommend writing a separate curriculum for each class that you plan to offer at your studio. Curricula should be based on the style of dance being taught, the age of your students, the amount of time offered in each class, and the amount of classes offered in each semester. Once you have that information down, you can follow these steps to write your dance curriculum.

Step 1: Establish your goals

Your goals will likely depend on what you teach and the age of your students. Make sure you choose realistic goals so that you can set yourself, fellow instructors, and students up for success. Utilize the SMART goal framework: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. 

Step 2: Sketch out the course

Once you have determined your goals, you can begin to sketch the semester/camp/course out. How many sessions do you have? How long are your sessions? This information is important as you begin to write your curriculum, and later, your lesson plans. When planning a dance curriculum, make sure you give yourself and your students enough time to understand each motion and step before moving on. 

Step 3: Review previous lessons and curricula

If this is not your first time teaching, start by going through what has worked (and not worked!) in the past. Where have students struggled when learning this style of dance or choreography? What lessons and activities really helped them master the moves? Use these experiences to inform your new curriculum. If you are a new teacher to this topic, use the Internet to see what others have done to teach it or speak with other educators to get their advice.‍

Step 4: Write (and revise) lesson plans

Once you have your curriculum structured, it’s time to write the lesson plans for each class. Each lesson should also have a micro goal, which will help you accomplish the overarching goal. You should also include information about how you will assess and evaluate your success for each class. We will go into further detail on how to write dance lesson plans in the next section. Once you have your lesson plans written, go through and revise so everything works cohesively.

More questions on how to write a curriculum? Use our guide!

Photo of dance curriculum

How to write a dance lesson plan

With your curriculum set up, you can turn your attention to lesson plans. This is one of the most important parts of successfully teaching students. With accurate lesson plans, you can ensure you are providing the best instruction, keeping track of time, and engaging your students.

These are the sections of a dance lesson plan to keep in mind.

  • Lesson objective(s): What is the goal of this specific lesson? What are the students going to learn or be able to do at the end of the class? Make your lesson objective(s) as action-oriented and measurable as possible because this is how you will measure progress before moving on to new lessons. 
  • ~For example: Learn 30 seconds of choreography or understand 5 new ballet poses.
  • Materials needed: What materials, supplies, costumes, and music are needed to teach this lesson? 
  • Lesson activities: What will you be doing to help your students accomplish their objective? Break your lesson down into individual activities that will help your students learn what you want them to learn. Try to incorporate games and fun elements to keep them engaged. We’ll go over some great dance activities for kids in the next section!
  • Timing: As you plan the activities, include a time estimate with each one. It is best to add a little extra buffer time to each activity in case students are having difficulty mastering something.‍
  • Assessment: Include a measure of assessment in your lesson plans so you can keep track of how well the lesson actually went. Did the students achieve the goals set out? This can be as simple as running through the choreography or practicing the poses once more to see if you accomplished the lesson objectives.

Use our editable dance lesson plan template to get started preparing lesson plans for your classes!

Get your editable dance lesson plan template

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Dance activities for kids

The best part of teaching dance to children is watching them explore the art form, have fun, and learn! Here are some of our favorite dance activities for kids that you can incorporate into your lesson plans to get them moving, enjoying, and discovering dance.

Photo of dance activities

Storytime dancing

This is a great activity for any type of dance class with young children. Have the children create dance moves or dance routines to act out a story you tell or one that they choose. Fairytales and popular children’s books are great options for this. Children will learn to be creative, explore their bodies, and have fun!

Learn to dance games

Did you know that playing games can enhance learning? Incorporating learn to dance games can help your little students get more comfortable moving their bodies in creative ways. We like the animal game, where you call out names of animals and the children have to act out each animal. Simon Says is also a great learn to dance game for children of all ages!

Freeze dance

Yes, the old classic birthday party game can easily be incorporated into your dance classes and produce results! Have your students go through choreography they have learned and pause the music, causing them to freeze during the dance. This will help them practice controlled body movements and, once you turn the music back on, thinking on their feet to keep going with the choreography.

Be the mirror

For this activity, pair each student up. Then, have one student be the dancer and the other be the mirror. The student who is the mirror has to mimic the student who is the dancer. This will teach your students teamwork, collaboration, and concentration. Plus, it’s fun! After a few minutes, have the students switch roles.

Choreography building

Have your students stand in a circle. Start with one student who does one move. Then, the next student does their move and a move of their own. Continue through the circle with each student doing everything that was done before them and adding their own. When it gets back to the first person, see if they can do everything! This is a great warmup activity that helps your students get the mental and physical juices flowing. 

We hope this guide has provided you with the resources that you need to write and develop a strong dance curriculum for your dance studio or business. If you are looking for guidance on managing and running your children’s education and activity business, the team at Sawyer is here to help.

With our suite of tools, like custom forms to record allergies and t-shirt sizes, flexible payment options like gift cards and installment plans, and seamless scheduling and registration on any device, Sawyer saves business owners 28 hours per month. If you are ready to spend less time on admin and more time doing more of what you love, see how Sawyer can help with a free trial or demo.

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