Level heads

9th June 2000 at 01:00
DANCE IN STEPS, Key Stage 1. By Andrea Hayley Mallen. Dance in Education Services, Tel: 01274 620887. pound;49.95 plus pound;7.50 postage

This teaching manual, with laminated flash cards and CD of original music, aims to provide key stage 1 teachers with a structured dance programme. It includes 26 different dance topics incorporating original stories, characters, poems, and activity sheets.

For Year 1 the topics include: space, warm up, breathing and direction; for Year 2: shapes, action-jump and "the adventure comes to an end".

The manual concludes with some suggestions for assessment, including photocopiable records of assessment and dance certificates. Activity sheets provide additional resources for the various topics.

Each topic is clearly explained and supported with a series of tasks for the teacher to follow. The topic on level, for example, starts with a short story for the teacher to read to the class and features the Level family. The next task is for the teacher to show the children the Level family flash cards which are on white A4 card featuring simple black line draings of the characters in the story. Pupils are asked to perform two movements at each level. The topic also includes rhymes and short poems with accompanying movement ideas. The musical tracks range from a lively Caribbean-style tune to more atmospheric sounds, varying in length from 30 seconds to one minute.

The manual is clearly presented and avoids jargon. It would, however, be advisable for teachers to include some creative tasks. Content is limited mainly to movement skills, with little help or advice on how teachers could support children in making and appreciating dance. The flash cards might engage the interest of younger children, but may contribute little to their knowledge and understanding of the subject.

While some of the ideas may be useful, the addition of a variety of imaginative children's stories, a range of stimulating visual resources and the inclusion of music from different styles and cultures would be necessary adequately to support the key stage 1 dance curriculum.

Linda Rolfe is a lecturer in primary dance and PE at the University of Exeter

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