Dance Stations | Ophea Teaching Tools

    Dance Stations

    Physical Activity Level
    • Moderate

    • Gymnasium

    • Multipurpose

      • Appendix B

      • Appendix D

      • Audio equipment and music

      • Index cards (1 per student)

      • Station Cards (see GETTING ACTIVE)

    Safety Considerations

    Before starting, inspect the activity area to eliminate any potential hazards. Remind students to be cautious when moving and to be aware of the personal space of others.


    Students will actively and safely explore dance through a series of stations.

    Warm Up

    And Switch

    • Give an index card to each student and instruct them to write or illustrate a warm-up activity on the card (e.g., shoulder shrug and roll, arm circles, ankle rotations, knee lifts, stretch arms up high).
    • Play music while students stand in a circle and do the activity they wrote on the card.
    • After 1 minute, stop the music and call “And switch.” At that point, students pass their card to the left. Restart the music, and students do the activity on their new card, until the music stops again.
    • Repeat this process for the duration of the song.
    Getting Active

    Dance Stations

    • Set up stations around the activity area.
    • Divide students into groups of 2-4, and assign a starting station to each one.
    • Groups work at each station for 1-2 minutes while the music is playing, and then rotate to the next station when the music stops.
    • There are some fun, upbeat songs by Aboriginal artists that would work well for the warm-up. See a list and examples in Appendix D.
    • Explain to students the history of the various types of powwow dances.

    Station 1 - Grapevine: Students do the grapevine to the right (sidestep right foot to the right, left foot behind, right foot to the right, feet together) for 8 counts, then grapevine to left for 8 counts. Repeat. As a variation, they can add a clap as the feet step together, and/or do the grapevine in 4 counts.

    Station 2 - The Sprinkler: Students extend right arm to side, and move hand toward centre in 4 jolty steps. Repeat with left arm. Repeat from beginning. Then, moving to the right, students slide, step, slide, together. Repeat, moving to the left. Repeat from beginning.

    Station 3 - Snake and Roof: With a bounce, students snake the right arm across the front of body (2 counts), then follow with the left arm. Repeat 3 times. They then raise the roof (move one bent arm upward, palm raised) for 2 counts with the right hand, followed by 2 counts with the left. Repeat from the start.

    Station 4 - Fancy Scarf Dance/Grass Dance: Students form groups of 2. One member of the pair brings foot down with the beat of the drum, taps the ground, and makes wide sweeping motions, pretending to stomp the grass. The second student follows the drum beats by lifting and moving feet while twirling and moving arms. Students move quickly, kicking and twirling to the beat. (Consider playing a powwow song.)

    Station 5 - Slide Shapes: Students take large slide steps from side to side, with a clap as the feet come together—use 2 counts for each step, then slide and clap. They then slide-step to “draw” different shapes (e.g., square, triangle, hexagon).

    Station 6 - Smoke Dance: (Requires a smoke dance song that speeds up.) Students make various arm and leg movements with the beat of the drum, keeping their feet on the ground.

    Station 7 - Aerobic Steps: Students sidestep to right and left, 4 times. Repeat, while pushing both arms forward. Then they do heel kick-backs, side to side, 4 times. Repeat with elbow pull-backs. Do a quarter turn and repeat from start.

    Station 8 - Traditional Dance: Students bounce on one foot and then the other, dipping and swaying to the beat of the drum. They stay upright, move slowly and always have one foot on the ground.

    Station 9 - Shimmy and Shake: Students shake the whole body, high and then low, as they travel about in a small area.

    Cool Down

    Round Dance

    • Play a Round Dance song (see Appendix D).
    • Students form a circle and hold hands.
    • Moving clockwise, students do a side-shuffle step with knees bent, keeping to the beat of the drums’ long-short pattern.
    • To finish, students inhale deeply and slowly as they stretch up as tall as possible. While exhaling slowly, students bend forward at the waist, letting their arms relax and sway. Lead (or ask a student to lead) a series of stretches. Consult the examples in Appendix B.
    Other Considerations
    • For the warm-up, ensure that students understand the importance of moving their joints through a full range of motion.
    • Demonstrate the moves from each station (or have students do so) before beginning DPA. Consider posting written instructions at each station. For the powwow dances, consider showing the students a video of each dance (women’s and men’s traditional, fancy shawl, grass and round dance).
    • If there are dancers in your community, invite them to your class to demonstrate the dances.
    • To make cross-curricular connections, have students practice information technology by researching different dancing styles such as salsa, folk, square dancing, and their origins (world cultures), the types of musical instruments commonly used, and rhythm (music appreciation). Teach them (or have them conduct research) about any dances that are common in your community, or are part of the cultural traditions of the First Nation or region.