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GRADE LEVEL: Grades Any, I have taught square dance to all levels

EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Record, cassette or cd player, square dance music

HIGHLIGHTS:  Timing, moving to pattern in relationship with a group, rhythm, endurance, and social values of dance

INSTRUCTIONS:  The key to teaching square dance, in my opinion, is to state rules and objectives up front.  To begin,  we have a discussion over feelings and what it feels like to have your feelings hurt.  The the students will understand why I have the rules that I do.  
     Rules about feelings:  students may not say or do anything that could hurt the feelings of others, including:
          1.  No negative remarks when they find their partner (No ewws or yuck, etc)
          2.  Students must join hands when required to do so.
          3.  Students may not have their sleeves over their hands.
     After discussing these rules and stating my no warning policy, we very seldom have a problem.
     A key to having the students enjoy square dance is to present it in a positive manner and with enthusiasm.  I explain to the students how I enjoy square dancing.  I also tell them that to me square dancing is kind of like a puzzle that we are trying to solve.  Whenever possible, I will join in the dancing.
     To begin, I partner my students randomly.  There are 3 ways that I do this:
    1.  Have the boys form a single file line to my left and the girls form a single file line to my right.  I then have the first people walk forward to meet their partner, then second and so on.  I watch for students who try to switch positions, as this would be an insult.  (I would only use this once).
     2.  My favorite way to make partners is to number 2 colors of poker chips 1-20.  I use red and white.  I then count the number of boys and girls, take the highest number, then put that many numbered poker chips into 2 separate containers.  The boys draw from one container and the girls draw from the other (whichever gender had the fewest dancers, will have chips remaining).  I use the remaining chips to partner with each other, if we need more dancers to make sets even.  
     3.  I also will use a deck of cards (regular, pokemon, etc).  I make sure each card has a match, then I will pass out the cards, i mate to the boys and the other to the girls.  If I use regular cards, I will call for the 2's, then 3's etc.  If I use special cards (ie: pokemon, old maid), I will have the students find their own match.

Disclaimer -   First, let me explain that I am not an expert, nor will I attempt to explain all of the possible moves in square dancing.  I will share with you what has worked for me over the years.  The basic moves that I teach will get me through more dances than I will even be able to use in a unit.  If I do a song that has a new move that the students do not know, then I will take time to teach it.  But, the way that I do my square dance unit must work well, as I have so many students who want to come in and dance at recess, that I have to turn some away until the next day.

If possible use "fundamentals of Square Dance" record to learn the following moves:
     The square:  The square or "set" is comprised of 4 couples, each representing a side of the square.  With each couple facing to the middle of the square, the girl should be on the boys right.  
     The moves: First, I use a wonderful cd called "The Fundamentals of Square Dance".  I started with the record, but now the cd is available.  This cd allows you to teache a move or two at a time, then makes a song incorporating that move.  Personally, I do not teach all the moves on the cd, but I use the ones that will allow me to do actual square dances.  Following are the moves that I teach first, and the order that I teach them:

a.   circle - all join hands and circle to the direction indicated. (with higher grades (5th and up), I teach that the boys hands are palm up, girls hands are palm down.  All elbows are slightly bent in order to keep the circle round. (watch for students who push or pull the circle).
                                                       Circle                                         Do-Si-Do

b.   do-si-do - facing partners with arms folded, walk past partners right shoulder, then backwards passed left shoulder.

c.    promenade -   I use a skaters promenade, due to ease.  (note): there are other ways to promenade).
join right hand with partners right hand, left hand with partners left hand, face same direction and walk counter-clockwise.  Boy is on the inside, girl to the outside.
                                                         Swing                                            Promenade

d.    swing - I use an elbow swing, due to ease.  (note): there are other ways to swing.  partners join right elbow with right elbow of partner and swing.

e.    grand right-left - face your partner and join right hands, walk passed your partner and give your left hand to the person coming, keep going in the same direction, alternating hands until you get to your partner.  (boys will be moving counter-clockwise, girls will be moving clockwise).

f.    allemande left - face your corner, walk around your corner left hand to left hand, end up where you started (facing your partner).  Many time followed by a grand-right and left.  (Note:) Students will get the allemande left confused with a grand-right and left.  Take time to explain that the grand right left starts with your partner.  The most common mistake I have are students who do not finish the allemande left, then head the wrong way for a grand right and left.

g.    two ladies chain - The two ladies indicated walk passed each other with right hand, give left hand to the man they are coming to, they will give the ladies a courtesy turn.

h.    four ladies chain - four ladies come to the middle, form a right hand star and walk a clockwise direction until they come to their opposite, he will give a courtesy turn.

i.    courtesy turns - left hand to the girls left hand, the gentleman will place his hand on her back and turn her in a clockwise direction.  (Higher grades, I will also teach a California Twirl).

j.    right left through - couples indicated face each other, give right hand to the person across from them, gentlemen will courtesy turn the ladies.

     These are the basic moves that I use to start square dancing.  After these moves we can start actual dances.  (Hinky Dinky Parle Vous, Red River Valley, Take a Little Peek, Irish Washerwoman, Duck for the Oyster, etc.

HELPFUL HINTS: The important part of this activity is to make it enjoyable.  After learning these moves students are ready to try a full square dance.  If there is a new move in the dance, then I take the time to teach it.
     Personally, I found it very helpful to review the songs before playing them to the students.  I then made note cards of each song, listing all of the moves in that song.  This way, I could play songs that I knew the students knew all the moves to, or I knew which moves needed to be taught before the song started, so I had time to learn the move myself.

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