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Lesson Plans

Circle of Names

  • Lesson Plan Creator: Lynne Larson
  • Grades: Grade 3, Grade 4, Grade 5, Grade 6
  • Subjects: Language Arts, P.E.
  • National/State Fine Arts Standards: Create, Perform/Present, Connect, Respond
  • Tags: Creative Movement

This creative movement lesson using syllables is a great ice breaker for the beginning of the year or semester, a time when students are getting to know one another and the teacher is getting to know students’ names as well.

Learning Objectives/Goals

Using movement in combination with syllables to create a sequence and a rhythm. Students use focus and memorization skills as well as working as a team.

Materials Needed

A large open space, music and or a drum


State the Class goals and expectations, space boundaries


divide students into groups of 5-8 students and have them form a circle. Select one student to be the leader.  What is the student’s name?  How many syllables are in the name?  For example: Lynne – 1 syllable, Lynne creates one movement and others follow and repeat the name Lynne while doing the one movement.  Repeat this with the next student, Joseph – 2 syllables – 2 movements (stress they need to look different than Lynne’s movement.  Start the sequence – Lynne’s movement, Joseph’s movement, then add the next student, working all the way around the circle.  Start the sequence from the beginning each time a new student’s movement is added.


Practice the sequence in order, trying to move together as a whole.  Add some challenges, such as: don’t say the names, moving through the sequence as slowly as possible, moving through the sequence as quickly as possible, changing the level of the sequence, turn around and face the outside of the circle, etc. Have student come up with other ideas as well of ways to manipulate of change the way they are moving through their sequence.


Have each group of students create their own pattern using the sequence they created. Select 3 different ways to manipulate the sequence. For example, first time slowly, second time sharply and third time traveling to a new location in the space.  Rehearse as a group.


 Select some music and have students perform their sequence with variations for one another. Have the audience guess what manipulations each group decided to use. 

Extension to the Lesson

Ask each group to create a pathway through the space for their sequence. How do they create ways to make the sequence travel?

Follow-up Resources

Dance to Learn video lesson plans.


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What People are Saying

The diversity of the dancers really spoke to my students! It was great to see boys and girls dancing, and different races. The high level of engagement was so refreshing and got students excited about thecontent.
This activity was valuable because it helped students make connections between dance, rhythm, healthy lifestyles, and expression. The students were impressed by the talent of the dancers and it was motivating to them.
Opportunities for art and expression are so limited at school but so essential and valuable for all students, especially those who struggle to learn through traditional methods. My Kindergarteners have been dancing since you left!
This was so engaging. I looked around the auditorium and every student was watching. Not one person was talking or distracted
This activity is valuable to teachers and students because it gives them a creative outlet. We need movement in the classroom to engage, energize and deepen student learning.
I got great ideas on how to incorporate movement into math and science lessons.
I loved how you made movement and exercise relatable to the students. The dancers were full of energy and there was very little down time so students stayed engaged.
Our children were captivated by the performance. They listened to you and they were learning without knowing. They usually giggle when bodies are shown and talked about. But the way you presented it was so tastefully done, they now do poses and movement around the room and outside. You brokesome barriers and they took that permission and literally ran with it!