Music and movement helps children develop an understanding of the numerous possibilities of physical movement and how their body works and moves. Use of hoops in musical play, songs, and games supports timing, rhythmic flow, energy, effort and an understanding of space. Through a variety of movement activities children develop movement efficiency and expressiveness.
When children are sitting in the middle of their hoops in a circle watching, listening, moving their hoop in time and doing the actions of a song such as “Wheels of the Bus”, they are learning how to follow the sequence of sung instructions such as round and round, up and down, side to side, backward and forwards. They learn how to move their hoop quickly and slowly in time to the music, they develop social skills, listening, playing in synchrony with others in the circle. They are also observing and experiencing how everyone has their own space within their own hoop.
When each child places their hoop on the floor and follows sung instructions such as: one foot in the hoop today, the other foot in the hoop today, one hand in, the other hand in, both hands in and both hands out, noses in and noses out etc. they are learning how to organize their body in relation to weight, space, time, energy and rhythmic flow.
Circle dances with each child holding a hoop helps them to be able to keep in their own space within the circle, to walk around for eight steps, to change direction and walk around for a further eight steps, holding their hoop they go into the middle for four steps and walk backwards for four steps. The hoops promote spatial awareness and ensure that children can’t get too close to others. Songs and dances from my CD “DANCING IN A CIRCLE” such as “Shoo Fly” and “Floating Down the River” teach listening, timing, anticipation, directionality skills and ability to move and play together in synchrony.
Songs that use ascending and descending notes or pitches of the five note C major scale C, D, E, F, G…. G, F, E, D, C with the instructional words “Up, Up, Up, Up, Up, Down, Down, Down, Down, Down” help children to listen and respond, taking their hoops up or down, following the direction of the notes in space and to begin to know where those notes are in relation to their own space. This helps children to visualize where the notes are in space and to begin to sing in tune. If you are not sure about singing these notes, purchase a box of chime bars from a good music store. These chime bar sets have the 8 tuned notes of the C major scale and are a great way of ensuring that you are singing in the young child’s pitch range.
Hoops are a great way of helping children socialize and develop a sense of rhythmic flow as they move their hoops from side to side, up and down around and around, using jig zag patterns etc. They can hold a hoop with a partner doing a dance together, or spin or bowl the hoop backwards and forward with their partner. The children are feeling, seeing experiencing the continuity of movement. Their movement might be very controlled, careful, contained, or fluid, flowing, depending on the sung instructions or music accompaniment.
Sing songs about what the children can do with their hoops. To the tune of “Skip to My Lou” sing “What can you do with your hoops today? X 3 Show us what to do”. Enjoy a wide range of music and movement experiences and creating hoop songs and games. Explore space standing in one spot (non-locomotor) and moving through space (locomotor) walking, running, skipping, galloping, or jumping with hoops. Explore, create, imitate and appreciate. When children’s ideas are appreciated and validated through imitation they develop self-confidence, movement dexterity, timing, expressiveness and self -esteem.
A Brief Overview of the Framework of Laban Movement Analysis