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Over, Under, Around and Through - Prepositions and Geometry in Movement

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

In this lesson designed for elementary grades 4-6, students explore shapes and positive and negative space through movement.

Learning Objectives/Goals

Use of Prepositions and movement (over, under, around, through, in, out, etc.), shape design of the space and the body (straight, curved, zig-zag, diagonal, spiral, etc.), positive and negative space

Materials Needed

600 Black Spots by David A. Carter, drum, music


Class expectations (Good listening, following directions, be creative, be active), Spaceboundaries, personal boundaries, goals for class today


Explore 3 types of shapes: straight, curved and angles (zig-zag). When given a signal, Instruct students to create a frozen straight shape on a level of their choice. Memorize the straight shape. On the next signal, create a curved frozen shape on a different level. Memorize the curved shape. On the final signal, create an angled frozen shaped on a different level. Memorize the angle shape. Students will have 3 separate frozen shapes (straight, curved, angled) on 3 different levels. Connect the 3 shapes using slow, sustained movement (8 or 16 counts to transition to each shape), then use fast, staccato movement arriving in each shape in 1 count. Ask students to compare the two speeds of moving.


Group students in 2s, 3s or 4s. Have students combine their straight shapes, curved shapes and angle shapes using the words such as: over, under, around, through, etc. They are creating shapes with negative space. Try the same activity with positive space, meaning the shapes would now touch.


Show the students, either the 3rd or 4th pop-up picture in 600 Black Spots. Ask them to identify the different lines and the prepositions they see. Using the pictures as a movement map, have the students create a sequence of movements that mimic the “map” in the 3D pictures. Decide where to begin, what pathways to follow and where to end. Give the students some time to work. Remind them to include straight, angled and curved line, and the prepositions they worked on before.


Have the students perform for each other. Ask the audience to look for line design and use of positive and negative spaces.

Extension to the Lesson

Have the students add in their combined frozen shapes they created during the investigation section inside their map sequence.

Follow Up Resources

What about using this with 3D maps?

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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!