Dance + Literacy: A Perfect Pair

By Megan Donahue

“Storytime Dance” sounds like a cupcake of a dance class. “How cute!” people say when I tell them I teach it. They're not wrong—it's adorable. But we're doing big work at Storytime, and that's combining dance activities with an important life skill: literacy. Dance offers a great opportunity for children to interact with books in a vibrant and impactful way.

1. Children learn through moving.

“Research shows that movement is the young child’s preferred mode of learning – and that children learn best through active involvement,” writes movement specialist Rae Pica in Early Childhood News. Listening to a story is one way to learn from it. Moving through the story is another, and one that young children may have an easier time understanding, remembering and internalizing. It turns the story into an experience that can be repeated and reflected on.

2. Kinesthetic activities reach a wide range of learning styles.

Each of us has a preferred way of learning. Some of us are watchers, some are listeners. Some of us need words to make sense of something, while others need to get hands on. Movement activities give watchers something to see, listeners something to hear, and kinesthetic learners something to do. Everybody can get something out of a movement activity.

3. Children make connections through movement.

I'm very interested in two kinds of connections children make when they move with a story—the personal and the conceptual. First of all, it's great to see kids make connections to the things they read with things from their lives. Children are more likely to enjoy reading if stories seem relevant. Conceptually, movement is a great way to explore all kinds of literacy skills—the shapes of letters, sequencing words in a sentence, the role of verbs and adverbs...the list goes on.

4. Dance is social, rather than isolated.

Reading is often a solitary activity, but moving with a group is fun. It gives kids an opportunity to be loud, active, and part of a group while they're working with books.

So if you stop by a Story Time Dance class, whether you see us skipping down Red Ridinghood's path, acting silly on every floor of the house in "There's a Wocket in my Pocket", or just sitting down reading abook, you'll know we're on our way to being strong readers and dancers.