Stretching is a form of physical exercise in which specific parts of the body are deliberately stretched. This is done as a means of improving the range of motion of those specific parts and also helps with muscle control.
Stretching is something humans and animals do instinctively and usually happens naturally after waking up from sleep; amongst other things. Stretching is also one of the basic components of physical activities such as sports or dance. It is done before and after the specific activity as a means of reducing injury and increasing performance.
Therefore stretching is an essential part of a dance class. It is essential because,
It increases flexibility.
It increases range of motion, especially of the joints.
It increases energy levels.
It can, in some cases, alleviate any pain or discomfort experienced by relaxing tense muscles.
It enhances muscular coordination.
It increases posture.
It increases posture.
It increases alignment.
It improves circulation and blood flow and,
It prepares the body for the physically taxing activities a dance class comes with!
That said, it is important to stretch with your students at the beginning of a dance class. It will benefit them greatly in the long run.
Sadly though, as essential as stretching is in a dance class, it is not always the easiest of activities to do with children. It can be tough to get them to focus and in some cases get them to actually do the activity or enjoy it for that matter, making stretching the hardest part of teaching a dance class.
Now, we are nearing the end of our "Ocean" theme, with our focus this week being oysters. So we thought long and hard in order to come up with an activity which focused on stretching different parts of the body but one that would be fun for our students to willingly do! So we grabbed a ball, pretended it was an oysters' pearl and protected the pearl by rolling it through and along four different positions and body parts respectively.
How did it go?
The ball totally enabled this activity. Our students were thrilled and managed to sit through the entire activity while excitedly rolling their ball through and along the four different positions and body parts respectively. They had tons of fun with this one and we were overjoyed. This activity helped our students stretch and warm up their bodies and made them even more eager for the rest of the class. This activity also proved to be successful with those students who were in need of more focused and individual motor skills activities.
One suggestion we have is to lay down the law regarding the use of the ball otherwise students will get carried away. If you would rather them not bounce, throw or play with the ball, then let them know before you pass the balls out.
Take a look!
So if you are looking for a fun warm-up activity to go along with your ocean-themed dance class then feel free to watch our video. You will see how we incorporated the ball throughout all four of the previously mentioned positions. We are confident that this activity will be a great addition to your warm-up activities and will be an easy one for your students to master.
Keep On Rolling,
Tiva & Randa