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Swing Your Partner

Choose your partner and do-si-do! Use Crayola® Sidewalk Paint to create a squared set to help you learn basic square dance moves.

  • Grade 2
    Grade 3
    Grade 4
  • 60 to 90 Minutes
  • Directions

    1. Square dancing has a long history in American culture. Its roots can be traced back over hundreds of years. When learning the art of square dancing, allow students to create their "dance floor" with the help of Crayola Washable Sidewalk Paint. With administrative permission, assist students in locating a section of concrete or asphalt on which they may safely paint a squared set. Test a small area to make sure the paint does not stain the surface. Do not use the paint on surfaces less than 6 months old.
    2. Inform students that square dancing’s name comes from the square formation used while dancing. Although the squared set is an imaginary set on the floor, they can learn new moves easier if they paint it to get started. Ask students to begin by determining the correct size for their square. With the assistance of 8 friends, position each pair of dancers in the middle of each side of an imagined square. Everyone stands with their arms outstretched so that the couples can tough fingertips at the square's corners. Once the length is determined, students are ready to begin painting.
    3. Advise students to use one color of Sidewalk Paint to make four smaller squares, one on each side of the larger square. Use a different color to paint a circle for each member of the couple.
    4. Mark the positions. The dancers with their backs to the music are couple number 1 in Position 1, or the head couple. The dancers across the square from this couple are also called head couples, but they are in Position 3. The side couples, or couples number 2 and 4, are in Position 2 and Position 4. Use another color of paint to label the positions. Air-dry the paint.
    5. Once paint is sufficiently dry, it's time to dance! Student pairs stand in their starting positions. Honor your partner by facing each other. Bow if you are a boy and curtsey if you are a girl. Now honor your corner by turning to the person on the other side and bow or curtsey again.
    6. A caller (or use a recording) calls out the steps for the dancers to perform. Dancers continue to perform each called movement until the caller gives another direction.
    7. Circle to the left and circle to the right by joining hands and moving in either direction in a circle. Students may walk, skip, or do the shuffle step (lift heels and slide forward on the balls of one's feet).
    8. To perform the do-si-do, stand face to face with your partner. Walk forward past your partner’s right shoulder. Then step to the right and walk backward past your neighbor’s left shoulder. You should end up face to face.
    9. An allemande left is executed by stepping forward and grasping your corner’s left arm with your hand. You keep walking forward in a half circle until you are in your corner’s starting position. Now pull gently with your left arm and move past your corner’s left shoulder. When you face your partner, you may drop hands.
    10. The right and left grand is a circular movement. Partners start by facing each other. Give your partner your right hand and gently pull forward past your partner. Drop your hand and give your left hand to the next dancer in line. Move by each dancer alternating with your right and left hand, until you meet your partner again.
    11. There are many more square dance moves such as the courtesy turn, weave the ring, right-hand star, and the pass thru. Encourage students to research more square dance moves and practice them on the squared set. Students may use the squared set over and over, but do not leave the paint on the surface longer than 2 weeks. To remove, wash surface with the water pressure from a garden hose.
  • Standards

    LA: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency tosupport comprehension.

    LA: Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words or phrases in a text relevant to a grade level topic or subject area.

    LA: Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.

    LA: Paraphrase portions of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

    MATH: Classify two-dimensional figures based on the presence or absence of parallel or perpendicular lines, or the presence or absence of angles of a specified size. Recognize right triangles as a category, and identify right triangles.

    SS: Describe ways in which language, stories, folktales, music, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence behavior of people living in a particular culture.

    SS: Give examples and describe the importance of cultural unity and diversity within and across groups.

    SS: Give examples of and explain group and institutional influences such as religious beliefs, laws, and peer pressure, on people, events, and elements of culture.

    SS: Explore ways that language, art, music, belief systems, and other cultural elements may facilitate global understanding or lead to misunderstanding.

    VA: Use visual structures of art to communicate ideas.

    VA: Demonstrate how history, culture, and the visual arts can influence each other in making and studying works of art.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: Square Dancing (Let's Dance) by Mark Thomas; All Time Favorite Square Dances audio CD

    Invite a professional dancer from the community to visit with the class to discuss and demonstrate various types of dance steps. Encourage the speaker to talk about the history of square dancing and the role of the caller in this activity. Students may want to practice while the dancer is with them. Post learning to a class blog after the meeting concludes.

    Student groups research dance steps such as the fox trot or other line or circle dances. Encourage students to use Crayola Sidewalk Paint or chalk to paint the steps or formations for these dances. Each group will present their dance investigation to classmates.

    Students groups use their new learning to invent a new dance or dance steps to perform to a popular song. Students write directions for the steps to their new dance. Teach the new steps to classmates and/or perform for the class.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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