"Equality is not in regarding different things similarly, equality is in regarding different things differently." - Tom Robbins
Celebrations of independence often bring to mind visions of parades that include bands with big bass drums, firing cannons and rifles, loud motorcycles and horns, and none of these celebrations would be complete without a culmination of fireworks.
For some children these celebrations are a nightmare. These are the children who are sensitive to any type of noise – they include those with sensory processing disorders and those on the autism spectrum, and they are often found right in the middle of creative movement classes.
In honor of America’s Independence Day, I thought I would use this week’s post to share a lesson plan that I use to help my students experience all of the celebrations without the noise and fear that can sometimes accompany them.
I use John Philip Sousa’s marches, and I let them play continually throughout our class which incorporates different rhythms, marching in several different directions and pathways, and lots of level changes and jumping.
We discuss the parades that might be happening to celebrate the holiday, and then we have our very own parade. Each child gets to have a turn as the leader and decides what imaginary instrument we will play. We have a great time playing trumpets, flutes, trombones, base drums and bells. We all end this activity by waving our imaginary flags and scattering throughout the room.
Our celebration concludes with our firework display. We begin by counting together and jumping up and exploding into fireworks on the number 8. We then do the same counting to 4 and then 2. At this point I assign each child a number (1-4), and he or she must explode when I call his/her number. I begin by calling numbers individually and then begin grouping them together. For the grand finale the students may choose when they wish to explode while the music plays, and I watch the dazzling display.
Our job as dance educators makes us responsible for all children, and this class gives them the chance to experience the celebration without trepidation or fear and is great fun. If you try it, let me know how it works for you!