Making meaning through dance - teaching demonstration

Explores ways of using dance as a medium for children to make meaning and express themselves.

Featuring three dance experiences, the educators create opportunities for the children to engage with stories and learn new concepts and vocabulary.

Watch the video on Vimeo : Making meaning through dance

Reflective practice


  • The ways that children respond with their bodies to the opportunities to dance and move
  • The educators’ use of descriptive language to narrate and describe the dance experiences. The use of props, musical instruments, and changes in the educators’ body language and vocal expression
  • The educators’ use of a dance and stop game to develop children’s self-regulation. The different ways that each child responds to the dance opportunities.

Reflection questions

  1. How do the educators encourage children to experiment with movement and dance?
  2. How does dance allow educators to use alliteration and descriptive words?
  3. How do the children respond and move during the experiences, what are the potential reasons for differences in their responses?

Discuss strategies for when children do not take part in expected ways.

  1. How can educators shift their priorities and teaching-learning strategies according to the responses of children?
  2. How are you currently using music and dance experiences to develop children’s meaning making in your setting?
  3. What ideas come to mind from these example experiences, and how might you implement them in your setting?

Learning experience plan

This learning experience plan relates to:

  • interacting with others
  • early language users, language and emergent literacy learners (24 - 60 months)
  • learning Foci: concept development and vocabulary, stories and narratives
  • teaching practices: performing arts (interacting with others).

Outcome 5: Communication

Children express ideas and make meaning using a range of media. Use the creative arts to express ideas and make meaning, such as:

  • drawing
  • painting
  • sculpture
  • drama
  • dance
  • movement
  • music
  • story-telling.

Children begin to:

  • understand how symbols and pattern systems work
  • listen and respond to sounds and patterns in speech, stories and rhyme.

Victorian Curriculum level F-2: Language

Understand the use of vocabulary in familiar contexts related to everyday experiences, personal interests and topics taught at school.

Learning intentions

  • facilitating children’s vocabulary and meaning making through multiple media (movement, music, language)
  • developing children’s responses to the story of the dance using imaginative expression.

Assessment of learning

This is demonstrated when children:

  • respond to the educator’s narrations of the story using their bodies to move throughout the space
  • describe their recollections of the dance experience using descriptive language.


  • feathers
  • musical instruments.

Group size

Small group (2-5 children).

Experience process

Invite children to participate in the feather dance. Facilitate children’s imagination of what kinds of feather they will be during the dance.

Narrate the story of the dance, modelling physically and verbally how children can express themselves through dance and music. Use descriptive language to narrate how children can move their bodies as if they were feathers.

As you are dancing, another educator can provide background music and sound effects.

Use facial expressions and play with the volume and pitch in your voice.

After the dance, facilitate the children’s reflection and discussion of the dance, by using open-ended questions like:

  • Wow, what was that dance like?”
  • How did we move during the dance?”

Going further

This experience can be extended by allowing children to create their own dances, based on their own ideas and scaffolded by educators.

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Experience plans