Connecting to History and Culture
Producing, Executing and Performing
Communication and Collaboration
This lesson will introduce students to the history of square dancing as well as provide an opportunity to learn some basic steps and formations. Once students have mastered the steps, they will create a Kids’ Guide to Square Dancing for Kids by Kids as either a booklet or video.
Understand the history of square dancing in the United States
Learn basic square dancing steps
Perform a basic square dance
Created a Kids’ Guide to Square Dancing
Comprehensive Arts Education
What You'll Need
1 Computer per Learner
1 Computer per Small Group
Teachers should have knowledge of basic square dancing steps and an understanding of the role that square dancing plays in American culture and history.
Teachers should know how to stream video and project using an LCD projector. If teachers decide to make a video, then knowledge of how to operate a video camera is needed.
Prior Student Knowledge
Students should be familiar with square dancing and the concept of folk dances.
Large Group Instruction
Small Group Instruction
Test internet connection. Set up LCD projector Accessibility Notes
Students with limited mobility may serve as the caller for the square dance and the narrator for the video if you decide to make one.
Resources in Reach
Here are the resources you'll need for each activity, in order of instruction.
1. Ask students what they think of when they think about square dancing. List students’ ideas on the board. Ask students where they got these connotations and what influenced their ideas about square dancing.
2. Tell students that they are going to learn about the origins of square dancing by completing a web quest. Depending on how many computers you have available, you may decide to have students work individually, in pairs, or in small groups. The web sites used for the web quest are dosado.com and the Wall Street Journal
3. After completing the Web quest, reconvene the class and go over students’ findings. Discuss how their perceptions of square dancing may have changed by learning more about its history. Remind students that they should keep this information and history in mind as they begin to learn square dances.
1. Connect the LCD projector to a computer and stream a
video of a basic square dance.
2. Teach students some of the basic steps of square dancing using the videos.
3. Begin by assigning partners. Have each pair face the wall or screen where the video is being projected. Have the class follow the first three lessons (1a, 1b and 1c) to learn the basics of square dancing.
Lesson 1a: Heads, Sides, Positions 1,2,3,4, Circle Left/Right, Do Sa Do, Forward & Back, Swing, Promenade, Promenade 1/2, Single File Promenade
Lesson 1b: Includes Allemande Left, Right Hand Turn (Turn Thru), Right & Left Grand, Weave the Ring, Star Left/Right
Lesson 1c: Includes Pass Thru, U Turn Back, California Twirl, Partner Trade, Star Promenade
There are 15 lessons available on this web site. You may choose to do as many of the lessons as you have time for. There are also nine lessons for more advanced square dancing students.
4. For more sample videos of square dancing, show students the video from this demonstration.
1. Create the Kids’ Guide to Square Dancing for Kids by Kids as either a booklet or video. This product is a great tool to use in order to reach out to the community. If you make a video, consider asking a public access cable station to broadcast it. If there are local senior centers in the community, distribute copies of the booklet so that the seniors might give them to their grandchildren when they come to visit. Consider selling the booklets as a small fundraiser at a school fair or town fair.
2. Assign students different roles for the video or the booklet. The sections to be addressed are:
Narrator / Introduction
(Why learn about square dancing?) History
(How did square dancing originate? What influenced it?) Basic steps
(allemande, promenade, swing, do-si-do, pass thru, left hand turn, right hand turn, etc.). If you are making a booklet, include the move descriptions in this section along with the diagrams (see below). If you are making a video, have students demonstrate each step. Include diagrams of each step from a bird’s eye view
(use this . These diagrams can be included in either a booklet or video. web site to help students draw bird’s eye views of the various square dancing formations.) Resources
(if you are creating a booklet, list web sites and any local resources which will help students learn about this art form)
3. Distribute the following worksheets to students based on their role (the worksheets are available to you within the Resource Carousel):
Bird’s Eye View Illustration worksheet
(for the illustrator) Square Dancing History Information Gathering Worksheet
(for the students researching history) Square Dancing Move Description
(for the narrator)
4. If you are making a video, decide on the order in which information will be presented, who will narrate, and who will demonstrate.
5. If you are making a booklet, be sure to have students type or write their work neatly and follow the outline listed above.
6. If possible, upload your video or scan your booklet and post it as a PDF on your school’s web site.
1. Divide students into groups of eight Tell them that they will be making up their own square dance incorporating five of the different steps that they have learned. You may choose to have groups include some or all of the basic steps that they have learned: (four pairs).
Form a ring
2. Have each group perform its original square dance to music. Sites from which you can get square dance music are:
3. Tell students that some people believe that square dancing has become less and less popular over the years and that it may soon die out as an art form.
4. Ask students to write a paragraph or two about why think that square dancing has become less popular and whether they think it is worth preserving as a piece of American heritage. If so, how would they go about promoting it and if not, why do they think it doesn’t need to be preserved?
Assess your student's work using the 'Square Dancing Rubric' located within the Resource Carousel.
Extending the Learning
If you have any local groups that square dance, invite them to perform for and dance with students.
The National Standards For Arts Education:
Grade 5-8 Dance Standard 1
Identifying and demonstrating movement elements and skills in performing dance
Grade 5-8 Dance Standard 5
Demonstrating and understanding dance in various cultures and historical periods
Historical Understanding Standard 1
Understands and knows how to analyze chronological relationships and patterns
Historical Understanding Standard 2
Understands the historical perspective
Physical Education Standard 1
Uses a variety of basic and advanced movement forms
Common Core/State Standards
Select state and grade(s) below, then click "Find" to display Common Core and state standards.