Now is a great time to organize, order, and prepare your class props for your next session! As you are creating your early childhood dance class plans for the new season, remember a successful learning environment is a multi-sensory learning environment.
In order to support all learners in our dance classes, we must use props. Props allow children to visualize and solve problems, accomplish class goals, and assist with developing foundational, conceptual and codified skills.
Today, I’m sharing seven groups of props we use at DiscoverDance and why they are important for our young learners. I’ve also included class activities for each group. Let’s dive in!
- Solo Props (scarves, ribbon rings, streamers, small hoops, etc)
Solo props allow for individual creative exploration and tactile play. In addition, moving props through space promotes eye tracking and crossing the midline development.
Use these props for guided explorations and skill development, free dancing, or the freeze dance.
Class Activity with Scarves: Jiggle Your Scarf, Judi Cranston
- Group Props (parachute, stretchy band, octaband, etc)
Group props promote teamwork! Working with larger props also helps develop self-regulation, eye tracking, the vestibular system, and proprioception.
Use these props for guided explorations and skill development.
Class Activity with the Parachute: Parachute Time, Patty Shukla
- Gross Motor Props (agility hoops, domes, cones, poly spots, etc)
Gross motor props offer the most variety in early childhood dance classes. They assist in reaching many developmental goals such as body control, core strength, upper/lower body strength, crossing the midline, dynamic balance, and shoulder stabilization to name a few!
Use these props for skill development in guided explorations, obstacle courses, or across the floor activities.
Class Activity with Poly Spots: Create a pathway of poly spots alternating one spot then two spots. Dancers jump both feet together on one spot then a part on the two spots across the path.
- Balancing Props (balance beam, bean bags, wedge mat, etc)
Balancing props assist in helping us develop our proprioception and vestibular system which improves our static (not moving) and dynamic (while moving) balance.
Use these props for guided explorations, obstacle courses, or across the floor activities.
Class Activity with Bean Bags: Take That Bean Bag, The Learning Station
- Musical Props (shaker eggs, rhythm sticks, noodle sticks, etc)
Musical props will not only help us connect with the music, but they will assist in developing our eye tracking, crossing the midline, hand-eye coordination, and fine motor skills.
Use these props for guided explorations, freeze dance, or obstacle courses.
Class Activity with Noodle Sticks: Music Music, Tumble Tots
- Reinforcement Props (flash/movement cards, toys, dance props, etc)
Reinforcement props are a creative and fun way to reinforce skills and class goals.
Use these props during any portion of class that needs visual or tactile reinforcement.
Class Activity with Scarves: When traveling along the balance beam, place scarves across each arm reaching in jazz second position. The goal is to keep the scarves flat across the arms by keeping arms straight. If arms start to bend, the scarf will bunch in the elbow crease.
- Management props (poly spots, floor marking tape, inflatable campfire, etc)
Management props support our classroom management plan. When we have a classroom management plan, our classes run with greater ease, control, and flow.
Use these props to teach working in a circle, moving in a line, or as space markers.
Class Activity with the Inflatable Campfire: When working in a circle, place the campfire in the center of the circle. Teach the dancers that if they are too close to the campfire it’s too hot. If they are too far away from the campfire, it’s too cold. The circle should remain right in the middle where it is warm and toasty.
I’m excited to hear which of these props you will be adding to your early childhood lesson plans. Comment below and let me know!
Andrea Trench is dedicated to helping dance teachers create and deliver content that is research-based and developmentally appropriate for children under the age of 6. Her primary focus is classroom management, conceptual teaching, and foundational movement skill development in early childhood dance education. In addition, Andrea uses her 12 years of experience as a partner in a dance studio to inspire, equip, and empower educators.