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Adventures in early literacy

Dance Partay!!!!


In 2010 I saw a Groove ‘n Move presentation by some amazing ladies (Thank you Michelle Minerd and Trish Reid!) from the eastern part of the country about music and movement programs for young kids. One of the programs they mentioned was a Dance Party. After the presentation I emailed  Michelle requesting more information and she was kind enough to send me her playlist handout and some tips for running things. I went right to work on creating my own playlist (some of her tunes, some of mine) and set a date for my first ever Dance Party. At the time I worked in a small, kind of urban library inside a community center. This seemed JUST the program my patrons would love. For once, I was totally right! We did it once a month and got between 30 and 50 each time (that’s great for this tiny library).

Now, I’ve moved on to a different library, a much larger one in downtown. My first Dance Party here: 95 people and it has continued to be between 80 and 90 every time. WOW. Folks, we’re on to something here. We are running the program every Monday during the summer and they obviously love it.

Here’s what I do in case you’d like to start one at your library (you really should!):

1. Create a Playlist

I have always used an iPod, but you could use a CD just as easily if you don’t have the technology in your library to support an iPod. Most of you should at least have a boombox and that’s really all you need.

Here’s my current playlist. It’s a constant work in progess as I get sick of some songs and find awesome new ones to add. 

2. Round up any scarves, dancing ribbons, shakers or anything else you want the kids to play with while they dance. These will be well loved so don’t put anything out that you worry will break. The dancing ribbons are by far the most popular item, but everyone loves the egg shakers and scarves here, too. Place all these items in the middle of the room for kids to attack like the Hunger Games cornucopia. I also like to pick a few books on dancing/music for display and checking out.

3. Open the doors and let the hoardes in.

4. Play some music!

5. Stop the music after a song or two and make your general announcements: please don’t allow your child to kill another child, etc. For reals, though, this is a good time for a super quick sound byte about why music is so important to literacy or about dancing and bonding. Mine today was “Please everyone dance no matter how old you are. The more you dance, the more the kids will. This is a great way to bond with your child and make new friends with other grownups and kids. If you get tired, feel free to leave the room for a while for a break.” I also stop the music a little later to remind them about storytimes, summer reading, and show them the table with the events calendar, playlist handout, and some books to check out.

6. DANCE!!!! If you don’t dance, you can’t expect the other grown ups to. So get out there and shake that thing!

7. Stop the music before the last song. Thank everyone for coming and say anything else you forgot to earlier.

8. Lock the doors behind the last person and go take a nap. You deserve it.

Head over to Storytiming for info on her Bibliobop. It was super helpful, so Thanks, Cate!

Thanks for reading and I’d love to know if you’ve tried something like this at your library.

Author: Kendra

Children's Librarian in the Northwest. Lover of toddlers, twitter, and TV (T's, too, apparently!).

6 thoughts on “Dance Partay!!!!

  1. Awesome! I have a few posts on my blog about Bibliobop. I’d make one addition to #8 (pack a big lunch!) I am always starving on Bibliobop days! 🙂 Cheers!

    • Yes, definitely. And I eat a small snack before to keep the cranks away. Thanks for the comment and now I’m going to look at your other Bibliobop posts (great name, btw).

  2. This is very similar to my “Let’s Make Music” program that I like to do every so often. I make a playlist of 10 or so songs and we dance along! Except after each song I explain what we will be doing with the next song (scarves, shakers, jumping up and down etc.) Your program seems much more flexible as in you can pick whatever song you want, it doesn’t have to have special instructions to follow, I like that! Just dance!

    • That presi was so great I think it inspired lots of us to do music programs. They’re so fun and easy! I’ve been thinking about turning one toddler st a month in to just music, plus one song book.

  3. Would you be jealous to know that I used to work with Michelle and Trish? I bet you would! P.S. I’ve never heard my state referred to as being in the “eastern part of the country!” haha.

    • Lol! Very jealous! I just split the country down the middle- you’re on the east part and I’m on the west part. Geography was never my best subject!

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