POPS: More Opportunities to Refine Arts Education During Summertime

Summer break is when many educators think about, collaborate, improve, and refine their plans for the upcoming school year. Professional Outreach Programs in the Schools (POPS) can provide the needed resources to integrate the arts into those plans. 

POPS is managed by the Utah State Board of Education and sponsored by the Utah State Legislature. The program brings arts education and professional artists to educators and schools for free or subsidized costs. Read on to discover different and accessible ways to integrate dance and visual arts into your classroom, all available through POPS.

Ballet West

Ballet West has a variety of virtual learning opportunities available on its website for educators and students. The student in-theater presentation of Snow White, along with Getting the Pointe Workshops and study guides, helps viewers connect to the arts through an engaging and entertaining presentation of this classic fairy tale. 

The virtual presentation of the Ballet West for Children lecture demonstration Sleeping Beauty provides a broad scope of information about ballet and dance as art forms and professions. This demonstration also provides access to a study guide as well as hands-on Getting the Pointe workshops to enhance the experience.

I CAN DO classes are available for students and teachers who want to get up and move. These short lessons cover a wide variety of core curriculum concepts and are appropriate for multi-grade levels and ages. Happily, these classes can be viewed online multiple times to help improve skills and comprehension.

All of these experiences address the Utah State Core Curriculum, life skills development, and career and college readiness concepts. For more information about all of Ballet West’s virtual educational offerings, please visit https://balletwest.org/outreach.

Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art

Using art from the museum’s collection, Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art’s educators have created grade-specific online learning modules that address different themes. The modules prompt students to create their own artwork. Each workshop fulfills different core learning standards, including science, fine arts, and social studies. 

The museum’s Junior Curators experience is now offered online and will soon be joined by an online Elementary Curators experience. As participants go behind the scenes at NEHMA, curators will explore different ways to think about art and learn about art collection, displaying art, and creating exhibitions. These programs are well adapted to both home and classroom learning and can be undertaken individually or as class projects.  

Alongside the new digital tours of five exhibitions at NEHMA, which are available to everyone on the website, there is a High School Digital Tour Activity, which guides students through the galleries, including prompts for further consideration of the artworks on display and response activities that can be done at home or in a classroom. 
Repertory Dance Theatre 

Repertory Dance Theatre has an expanded blog on its website that includes lesson plans, career mentorship, videos of works from RDT's historical and contemporary library, and also hour-long performances of VOYAGE, RDT's in-school assembly, and MOSAIC, a tapestry of music and movement from around the world. Teachers of grades K-12 have the opportunity to use the movement lesson plans, which include core subjects, such as science, math, and language arts. Also included are folk dances, technique warm-ups, ballroom, jazz, hip hop, ballet and movement exercises from dance pioneers Ito, Graham, Limon, Humphrey, and Cunningham. 

RDT dancers and artistic staff have been working to contribute to the site daily and will continue to do so to build a large online education resource. During this challenging time, RDT is prioritizing its efforts to offer teachers the full measure of opportunities in providing dance education to their students.  

Tanner Dance

Tanner Dance at the University of Utah is providing online resources for educators and families this summer. Students, teachers, and families can take a sampling of virtual classes from the Arts-in-Education program on Tanner Dance’s website. Examples of these lessons include rhythm patterns, rocks and shapes, and negative space. A rotating library of past Tanner Dance performances can also be viewed from home.  

This summer, Tanner Dance is offering weekly live Zoom classes for toddlers, children, tweens, teens, and adults, as well as Flipgrid camps that include dance technique, improvisation, composition, visual art, and drumming for dancers in grades 1-12. Registration for camps and classes is available at https://tannerdance.utah.edu/programs/summer-session/.

When school resumes, Tanner Dance can provide virtual dance lessons for K-6 classrooms through YouTube or through live distance-learning sessions. For more information, please contact Rachel Kimball at rachel.kimball@utah.edu.

More information on POPS resources can be found in this earlier post.

Laura Giles is a lover of all things art, a first-grade teacher in Alpine School District, a writer for The Daily Herald newspaper, an Arts Leadership Academy graduate and has earned the Arts Integration Endorsement from Brigham Young University. She can be reached at LauraCGiles@gmail.com

Online Resources for Arts Learning:
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POPS: Resources for Professional Development and Remote Learning in the Arts

Recently, the quick shift to remote learning presented a unique challenge to many educators. Though school may be out for the summer, we know teachers are continuing to work hard, preparing for the unknowns of next year through summer team collaborations, individual development, or lesson planning. POPS (Professional Outreach Program in the Schools) has resources to help prepare for the upcoming school year. There are also great resources available to share with your students during the summer months. 
POPS is a resource managed by the Utah State Board of Education and sponsored by the Utah State Legislature. POPS is designed to connect schools, teachers, students, and administrators with arts education. POPS empowers educators to expand their confidence and capacity in arts education by providing free or subsidized access to high-quality professional development and performance programs, including professional artist visits to schools. Learn more about pops at POPSUTAH.org.
Plan-B Theatre
Due to the recent transition to remote learning, Plan-B Theatre provided a unique, fun, and engaging curriculum that is easily accessible (and free!) on Plan-B Theatre’s remote learning page. These materials apply to a wide range of core standards and easily translate from the classroom to the living room, and back again. Videos of past tour performances (with accompanying study guides) include three plays each for grades K-3 and 4-6. Additionally, a free, downloadable picture book of Plan-B Theatre’s most recent tour, Flora Meets a Bee by Morag Shepherd (K-3), includes a read-aloud video featuring the cast and the playwright.
Ideal for use at home and in classrooms, Playwriting with Young People is a 13-page booklet available online, written by Julie Jensen and illustrated by Andrew Livingston. This resource explores the essentials of playwriting for students in grades K-6, accompanied by video tutorials in both English and Spanish languages.  
You and your children or students can try your hand at radio making at home through Plan-B Theatre’s RADIO SLAM, designed for grades 4-6. An inspiring project teaching participants how to create their own radio play at home, RADIO SLAM pops boredom bubbles and sparks innovation in a socially-distanced living room environment. Kids or adults can listen to four recently premiered episodes to guide them through the process outlined in the study guides that accompany each episode, exploring multiple elements of core curriculum including mental and emotional health, reading, writing, nutrition, and social studies. 
Look for Plan-B Theatre’s 2020-2021 FEST (Free Elementary School Tour) of Presenting: Super Cat and Reptile Robot by Rachel Bublitz, coming to serve and excite students in grades 2-4 at an elementary school near you!
Downloading Plan-B Theatre’s free app enables all users to access tickets, updates, and information about free elementary school tours. 

Spy Hop Art Shop
Explore the Spy Hop and discover a digital media arts center offering in-school and after-school programs, summer camps, youth-in-care and satellite programming for all students who carry aspirations in filmmaking, music, audio production, and design. The Spy Hop Art Shop is an extension of Spy Hop’s POPS curriculum and is available to everyone, providing on-demand video tutorials for hands-on, STEAM-based art projects. Professional artist mentors produce step-by-step videos that show how to make cool stuff! Kids or parents can create just once, or tune in weekly to catch new videos that enable you to make projects with a Sky Hop mentor as your guide. Share your creations with the Spy Hop team via email (artshop@spyhop.org) or tag #spyhopartshop on social media to receive feedback and digital “high-fives.”
Teachers or community members can even schedule a two-day online Zoom and video tutorial intensive workshop sessions for groups of up to ten students in a variety of subject matter. Please email adam@spyhop.org  to schedule a customized online lesson and learn more about ways Spy Hop can serve your classroom. 
For more information about the Spy Hop Art Shop, summer classes for your children or students, and to learn more about Spy Hop’s “Voices of the West,” an online summer program for kids aged 13-19, go to www.spyhop.org.

Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company
If you’re a classroom teacher or dance educator from any public or charter school in Utah, you can enjoy the many benefits of Ririe-Woodbury’s live-stream sessions. The specific date, time and content can be tailored to each classroom’s particular needs: the company can schedule a convenient time to conduct a creative movement class, have a dance party, or set up a shared movement practice with students–these dance professionals will help create a unique and memorable dance experience for your students. These free classes are available on either Zoom or WebEx. Please contact the Ririe-Woodbury Education Director, Ai Fujii Nelson, at education@ririewoodbury.com
While planning for the upcoming school year, teachers can access many other online lessons and remote learning-related resources here. Some Spanish versions and audio versions of lessons are also available. 
We believe that all teachers are artists: we hope these ideas inspire you to explore and use the many and varied resources offered by POPS as you bring art making to your classroom. Art will add depth to your teaching and create fun, new, and engaging learning experiences for your students. Check out the POPS website, and watch for our next blog post to learn about more amazing POPS resources and opportunities. 
Laura Giles is a lover of all things art, a first-grade teacher in Alpine School District, a writer for The Daily Herald newspaper, an Arts Leadership Academy graduate and has earned the Arts Integration Endorsement from Brigham Young University. She can be reached at LauraCGiles@gmail.com
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Arts Integration and Online Learning: Frindle, Dinosaurs, and Chalk Art

Arts Integration and Online Learning Go Hand in Hand

by Laura Giles

Arts integration is continuing, even during these months of digital learning. Across Utah, teachers are integrating the arts with other curricular areas to keep their students engaged, spark creativity, deepen learning and make home education enjoyable.


Lori Nickerson, a second-grade teacher at Westland Elementary in Jordan School District, has been reading “Frindle” by Andrew Clements to her students. Class members culminated this literature experience by joining a Frindle Fair through Google Meet. At the fair, each student showed how he or she created a project to demonstrate understanding of the story.

The students were encouraged to incorporate as much art into their projects as possible. Some of these projects were dioramas, games and even a flipbook presentation, using media arts.

Nickerson often integrates drama and literary arts by asking the students to act out parts of the story that she is reading online. They also make facial expressions to represent characters. Music, math, and dance are other areas of the curriculum that Nickerson has integrated during the weeks of online learning.


Kelleen Leslie teaches fourth grade at Blackridge Elementary in Jordan School District. “I am trying to include art in my online classroom as much as I can, but it can be daunting,” Leslie said.

Leslie does the “Brain Dance” with her students through Zoom meetings as well as doing happy dances together periodically. While learning about rocks and minerals, the students were tasked with creating their own dances to demonstrate how weathering and erosion occur.

Leslie’s students have also created visual artworks using things from nature. During the weeks of online learning, their study of fossils included creating a new dinosaur and drawing what it would look like.

A first grader from Orem Elementary School sits by the chalk mosaic
that she created before writing a "how to" nonfiction piece about
how to create this artwork, integrating literary arts and visual arts. 


The first-grade students at Orem Elementary School in Alpine School District were learning about writing nonfiction “how to” pieces during the first couple of weeks of online school. They were asked to create an artwork of their choosing. Keeping in mind that not all students have the same materials at their homes, class members were invited to use any materials they liked, including found items, such as rocks. Then, students were to write a how-to piece, describing step-by-step how to create their particular artwork.

A large variety of artworks emerged from this assignment: paintings, realistic and abstract drawing, a rock sculpture, a Lego sculpture, and chalk mosaic art, among others. The writing that resulted from this activity was more detailed than usual and the students proudly showed off their writing and art with photos to their teachers.

Rather than filling out a worksheet about the life cycles of plants and animals, the first graders at Orem Elementary had the opportunity to choose one of the life cycles that they had learned about via online learning. Then, each student drew and wrote about it on a blank piece of paper. The goal was to encourage each student to use their own creativity and the knowledge they had gained to create something meaningful to them while demonstrating understanding of life cycles.

After learning about life cycles through digital learning,
a first grader at Orem Elementary drew, colored and labeled a diagram
of a butterfly life cycle, integrating science, writing and art. 

These are just a few examples of the many ways that arts integration is living on, even during these days of online teaching. Teachers are discovering that the arts are not just for in-person learning. Students are discovering that they can create, even while at home.

Laura Giles is a lover of all things art, a first-grade teacher in Alpine School District, a writer for The Daily Herald newspaper, an Arts Leadership Academy graduate and has earned the Arts Integration Endorsement from Brigham Young University. She can be reached at LauraCGiles@gmail.com.
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Non-tech Arts Activities at Home: Visual Arts

Tired of tech? Sick of screens?

Try these non-tech VISUAL ARTS activities!

Non-tech arts activities provided by professional educators in dance, drama, music, and visual arts on the BYU ARTS Partnership leadership team.  

Visual arts include drawing, painting, sculpting, and three-dimensional object art. Using easy-to-find materials from around the house, these fun activities engage both sides of the brain, relieve stress, create unity, boost self-esteem, and encourage creative thinking. See if you can inspire your students or family members to think of their own activities!
1. Draw a map of your house. Include all the rooms. Add people in your family.
2. Write and illustrate four-step instructions for how to: wash your hands; become invisible; make a sandwich; teach a crocodile to dance; or, tame a virus.
3. Use chocolate pudding as finger paint. Tape your paper down first, so that it won’t wrinkle so much when it dries. Then, try ketchup on another piece of paper. On another piece of paper, try mustard. Compare the different textures of the dried “paints”. Can you think of something else that might be good for finger paint?
4. Write and illustrate a love letter, poem, or song to your favorite place.
5. Find an empty toilet paper roll. Create a character using markers, yarn, tape, glue, paper, magazines, glitter, etc. Find a habitat outside somewhere, place your character in it, and take a photo. Next, draw your toilet roll character on a piece of paper.
6. Create a paper bag puppet. Put on a puppet show.
7. Find a rock and wash it off. Paint it. Write a positive message on your rock if you want to. Then go for a walk and leave it somewhere for someone to find. This is called, “A Random Act of Art.” You are sharing art. You could make other random acts of art on paper, and tie them on a tree  or a fence for someone special to find.
8. Make a dancer out of aluminum foil. You can put some wire in it first, if you have some. Then hold you dancer up on the edge of a piece of paper, shine a light on it, and trace its shadow. Finish drawing the other details of the foil dancer on the paper.
9. Use a squeeze bottle full of water, or a spray bottle with a stream setting, and “paint” with water on the sidewalk.
10. Play “Exquisite Corpse” with your family. Divide a piece of paper into three sections. Draw a head on the first section, then fold/cover it and give it to someone else. They will draw the body and arms. Cover it again, and pass it to someone for the legs. Unfold the paper and see what you have. Refine your creature. Give it a name. Research “exquisite corpse”, and see how surrealists use it to create fantasy drawings.
Written by Cindy Clark, visual artist, educator, and member of the BYU ARTS Partnership Leadership Team. Find more resources at http://advancingartsleadership.com/node/21 

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Congratulations to the Arts Integration Endorsement 2018-2020 participants!

by Heather Francis, BYU ARTS Partnership

Last week, sixty-six elementary school teachers completed the BYU ARTS Partnership’s Arts Integration Endorsement Course. The two-year program provides training in the arts, aesthetics, arts education, and arts integration. Participants expressed pride, joy, and accomplishment as they shared their personal journey in the arts. Excerpts from homework assignments and final sessions (held via Zoom) demonstrate how deepening their experience with the arts changed these teachers’ perspectives and level of engagement, as well as inspired a creative approach to teaching.

“The arts were an absolutely refreshing break from the regurgitated methods of other professional development programs. Because of what I learned in the course, I gained a completely new perspective of my students. My teaching struggled as I followed school-mandated programs. Applying the arts lessons and practices in the classroom gave me a new toolbox and mindset that filled the years-long gaps in my teaching. –Brandon Parks

“I felt rejuvenated as I came to class each week. As I applied my learning, I quickly discovered that by adding a little of the arts to my classroom, my students and I were more excited to be there. I enjoyed teaching more and they enjoyed learning more.” –Vanessa Black

Self-Study and Teacher Research

During the last semester, the culminating activity of the course is a self-study project. Self-study is a systematic form of research that allows teachers to deeply examine their own teaching practice. Looking closely at the strategies they use in the classroom helps teachers gain a deeper understanding of daily teaching habits, encourages self-advocacy and develops better teaching. Completing the course and engaging in the process of self-evaluation transforms classroom teachers into more fully-developed, professional educators with an arts-integration endorsement attached to their teaching license.

Below are summaries of a few of the self-studies conducted by the participants of the 2018-2020 Arts Integration Endorsement Course. As you join the journey of these educators by reading the results of their learning, we hope you feel the transformative power of the arts and notice how arts learning deeply impacted their personal lives, classroom perspectives, and professional experience. Find more inspiration for integrating the arts in the links throughout the post!

Tami Anderson

First Grade, Rock Canyon Elementary School, Provo City School District

Tami Anderson used video, observation, lesson plans, written reflections, and field notes of conversations with her critical friend to answer her self-study question: “What do I know about pantomime and tableau to engage students during vocabulary instruction?” She synthesized her learning to five points:
  1. Learning how to pantomime is difficult for first graders, but not impossible. Over time and with practice they get very good at it.
  2. My critical friend suggested making all the words visible to the students during the pantomime performances.
  3. Observably, one hundred percent of my students were absorbed and excited to use the dramatic arts to express comprehension AND engagement.
  4. Comprehension and retention of the word meaning was doubled. Students started using the vocabulary words in their conversations and in their writing.
  5. I heard students cheer and say, “Yay! It’s Tuesday! Time for pantomime!” There were students who asked me if it was time for vocabulary. 
Tami concluded her self-study with the following reflection: “This self-study held great relevance for me personally because I remembered how much fun it can be to teach hard things. I felt reinvigorated in my role as the students’ teacher. I realized that if I am not personally presenting an engaging lesson, then my students are not engaged either. This self-study was significantly relevant on a professional level, because I actually measured (through video, fieldnotes, and review) my improvement as an educator. I’ve added new tools to my professional collection. The self-study was a very beneficial experience and I’d do it again in the future.”

Find more drama integration ideas here.

Rita Lewis

Fourth Grade, Valley View Elementary, Alpine School District

Rita Lewis looked at incorporating the six art forms into her teaching practice for read-alouds. She questioned whether her students would show a measurable increase in literacy achievement. Collecting over a dozen artifacts used as formative assessments during the read-aloud, including video data, student reflections, student journal entries, class and one-on-one interviews, and student surveys, as well as her note-taking, reflections, and a single summative assessment (computer-based comprehension and vocabulary quiz), she discovered the following results:
  1. Incorporating the arts into my instruction taps into my students' abilities and different learning styles.
  2. The arts opened up a whole new world of books to my students who read at different levels.
  3. The different art forms allow students to make connections to the text and promote higher-level thinking and communication, in contrast to a direct read-aloud.
  4. Collaboration, communication, citizenship, and creativity naturally surfaced in the class because the students were intrigued and vested in each of the art-infused activities. 
As she reflected on her self-study, Rita explains: “I found new excitement and engagement within myself as I taught. I went out on some uncomfortable limbs with dance and drama as a teacher, and I was surprised at the full involvement and buy-in from my students. I conquered my fears. The day of students sitting at their desks in quiet, orderly rows listening to the teacher giving direct instruction is a thing of the past. Today's students must be allowed to develop creativity by using communication and collaboration skills during learning. By embedding the arts and the six C’s, teachers can help students succeed on a much deeper level. This study created the intended outcome, but more importantly, my personal growth as a teacher, how I teach, and a newfound love for teaching far exceeded my most significant expectations.”

Renee Jackson

Academic Support Special Education Teacher, South Jordan Elementary, Jordan School District

Renee Jackson explored the way she taught special-needs students the movements of the Brain Dance. After reading several articles about the importance of movement as a part of learning, she became convinced that mastering the brain dance was essential for her students, because of the crucial connections the dance creates in the brain. Renee took video of her practice teaching the Brain Dance, consulted her critical friend, and recorded personal reflections of her practice. Results of her study included recognition of effective teaching practices that improved engagement, including hand-over-hand assistance and personal invitations. As she worked through the self-study project, Renee noticed students voluntarily becoming more involved and showing more effort without any prompting. 

Renee concluded her self-study project with the following reflection: “During the three weeks of data collection, I watched videos of my teaching. Over time, I noticed changes in my teaching and how my kids responded to what they were being asked to do. For me, the most personally rewarding element was how my kids responded to me and to the dance. Students’ behavior transformed from very passive and non-responsive into high levels of engagement and excitement. In turn, their energy inspired me to try new things and helped me remember that teaching is still what I love to do, despite the challenges. Even as I write this, that recognition and resolve is strengthened in my heart."

Learn more about dance integration, and click here to discover even more ways to implement the arts in your class! 

Apply for the Arts Integration Endorsement Program

If you are interested in participating in this program, the CITES office at BYU is accepting applications for the 2020-2022 cohort. Space is limited. Participants gain basic skills in six art forms as well as strategies to integrate the arts across the curriculum. The endorsement will be posted on the USBE teaching license. This is a blended learning course with online and in-person components.

The course is funded by the Beverley Taylor Sorenson BYU ARTS Partnership. Participants are responsible to pay for the BYU credit which is forty-three dollars per credit for twelve credits, and credits for elective courses, which vary.

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Non-tech Arts Activities at Home: Music

Tired of tech?  Sick of screens?     
Try these non-tech MUSIC activities!
Non-tech arts activities provided by professional educators in dance, drama, music, and visual arts on the BYU ARTS Partnership leadership team. 

Keep it simple! Facilitating joyful and uncomplicated musical activities will enrich children’s time at home. Parents and teachers can implement these easy, effective, and low-tech ideas with participants of all ages and diverse levels of musical experience. Create a whole-family musical experience using any of the activities listed below:
  1. Go outside for a “listening” walk and make a list of everything you hear. 
  2. Sing your favorite song, alone or in a group. 
  3. In a group of two or more, see how many times you can sing a favorite round. 
  4. Create a 4-beat body percussion pattern and teach it to someone. Can you both do it to the beat of a song? 
  5. Play the steady beat as you sing a favorite song. (Clap, pat, or use household items to create the beat.) 
  6. Play the rhythm of the words as you sing the melody of a favorite song. (Clap, pat, or use household items to create the rhythm.)
  7. Ask a friend or family member to teach you their favorite song.
  8. Pick a familiar tune and create new words to a song, describing your day at home.
  9. Create a dance to your favorite song.
  10. Make musical instruments out of household items.
  11. Invent and draw a new musical instrument. To which instrument family would it belong? 
  12. Listen to a piece of music. Pay attention to how the music makes you feel. Draw your feelings. Listen again. What comes to mind when you listen? Write down your response, including memories that are associated with this music. Imagine this music was playing in a movie: write down or draw a picture of what might be happening.
  13. Write down the lyrics to your favorite song, including the chorus. Underline any repeated words or phrases in the song. Underline four other words. Sing the song and make a sound (clap, pat, or play an instrument) with the underlined words as you sing.
  14. Perform a song four ways: whisper, speak, hum, sing. 
  15. Say a nursery rhyme while tapping the beat. 
  16. Have a singing conversation. Instead of speaking, students or family members can sing normal sentences with others or create a two-sided conversation between toys, stuffed animals, or imaginary friends. 
  17. Create pictures out of musical notation symbols.
  18. Pick a favorite story or book. Figure out how to represent the characters and setting using sounds (voice/things found around the house/body percussion.) Assign each character a different sound. Using only those sounds, tell the entire story. Different individuals could make the sounds for various characters.

Written by Jennifer Purdy and Emily Soderborg, music educators and members of the BYU ARTS Partnership Leadership Team. Find more resources at Music Home | AdvancingArtsLeadership.com

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Non-tech Arts Activities at Home: Drama

Tired of tech? Sick of screens?
Try these non-tech DRAMA activities!
Non-tech arts activities provided by professional educators in dance, drama, music, and visual arts on the BYU ARTS Partnership Leadership Team 

Drama encourages playing with others. Even when the audience is only those with whom you are sheltering in place, using drama in ordinary moments will refresh, rejuvenate and remind children that daily living can be filled with wonderment and joy. The drama activities listed below provide much needed centering, and will help family groups deepen relationships. The following are easy, non-tech ideas and only require materials already around the house.

  • Use character voices. (Gandalf is distinct from Bilbo, right?) 
  • Build tension by speaking faster or slower. (Remember when Hermione is trapped in the ladies room with a troll?)  
  • Speak in a high or low voice. (How does Miss Honey sound, compared to The Trunchbull?), 
  • Laugh together at the rhymes ("...I will not eat them in a box/I will not eat them with a fox...") or silliness in a story. ("[Pippi] could lift a whole horse if she wanted to. And she did.") 
  • Focus deeply on the emotional meaning of a story. (Remember when Charlotte stays up all night to weave "Some pig!" to save Wilbur? ) 
  • Let imaginary worlds take over. (Remember Lucy's first glimpse of Mr. Tumnus the faun, in snowy Narnia?) 
During times of steep uncertainty (like right now!), familiar stories become friends of comfort, and new stories become joyous distractions. Most homes have books on the shelves just waiting to be revisited. Anne (...of Green Gables), or Percy Jackson (The Lightning Thief), or Meg Murray (A Wrinkle in Time) or Klaus (A Series of Unfortunate Events), or Stanley Yelnats (Holes) are hearty characters that can be discovered and re-discovered at all developmental stages (adults too!).

Don't hesitate to include tweens, teens and adults in read alouds! Remember that even little ones can comprehend the spoken word far beyond their reading level. Take turns, having one person read two pages and then passing the book to the next reader. Make reading aloud part of a comforting routine: just after lunch or dinner, right before breakfast or bedtime, whenever. Don't worry that you don't sound like a voice-over artist or movie actor. Reading with commitment and energy will engage listeners of all ages.


Inspire children to play dress up with grandma's old things or clothes you saved from high school. Let each child choose a style decade and create fashion shows. Hand out scarves, wigs, old jewelry, hats, or the old Halloween costumes you've tucked away. Create weekly theme days like Pajama Day, Old Folks Day, Artist Day, Book Character Day, or Superhero day.

Encourage children to make zoos, create puppet shows, or have tea parties with stuffed animals. Challenge them to create new and different worlds with Legos: what if Batman visited Middle Earth? Children learn through play and choices: imaginary and creative play situations do not need to be formal performances. Dramatic developmental benefits result from pretending alone or collaboratively.

Doubtless it is tempting to maintain a focus on order, calm, and cleanliness in living spaces especially while sheltering in place. However, creative play often results in disarray and mess. Set a few reasonable clean up rules, but avoid creating shameful feelings. Embrace the process. To you it may look a mess, but to them it looks like a vast jungle, a broad desert, a wizard in a magical castle, or an impenetrable ancient fortress. Engage and celebrate with your children as they create.


Storytelling is different from reading aloud. A story can be a family tale, story song, a fairy tale, a fable, or a funny family incident. Storytelling is always done from memory, and includes anything without a written text between the teller and the listener. Telling stories is easy, engaging, and creates generational belonging in children. Requiring zero physical materials, storytelling can be done anywhere and anytime: while eating dessert as a family, riding in the car, at bedtime, over weekend breakfasts, or during family devotionals. Story prompts are limitless. Here are a few:

  • Did you ever get into trouble and not tell your parents what happened?
  • Tell us about your favorite pet.
  • What is the most exciting place you ever visited?
  • Did you ever save up for a special toy or activity?
  • What is your favorite story your mom or dad used to tell you?
  • What is the most surprised you've ever been?
  • Who is the funniest of the older generation in your family?
  • Did you ever get a Dear Jane/John letter?
  • What is a fairy tale your grandma told you?

See what other prompts come to mind, and make a list to put on the fridge for easy reference during witching hour.

Collaborative stories are often fun. One person starts a tale, and at a certain point of their choosing (e.g. “When suddenly...") the story is passed to the next person. Group sizes can range from two to ten people. Creating different rules as the story develops adds depth: "You always have to include a color in your part of the story before you pass it along." Or, "You can't deny what someone else has built into the story." Or, "Nobody can include dogs, zombies, dinosaurs or guns in their part of the story.” Or, "Each person gets five words per turn.”


Often a natural outgrowth of previous drama activities, plays can be improvised, developed from a written script, or memorized to create a more formal performance feeling. Costumes can be created or puppets can be made to take on all or some of the parts. Furniture can be rearranged to accommodate a performing space, and/or sets can be constructed from cardboard boxes or other bits and pieces found in garages and sheds. Music and dance can add to the performance. Plays can also use pantomime, creating dialogue and expression without words. Or, plays can be pantomimed with sounds. Like silent movies, plays can also be pantomimed to music.

Plays can be performed by those sheltering in place to family members. Because plays are meant to be shared, safe performance ideas include following social distancing guidelines, sharing behind picture windows, or outdoors on patios or sidewalks with people watching from yards or balconies. Using a tiny bit of tech, plays can be recorded at home and sent to grandparents, teachers, extended family and friends, or broadcast on a social platform. Regardless of how the play is shared, experiencing the creative moments of the play’s development and performance offers the greatest level of excitement and connection.

Written by Teresa Love, drama educator and member of the BYU ARTS Partnership Leadership Team. Find more resources for drama activities and more at Drama/Home | BYU ARTS Partnership
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Non-tech Arts Activities at Home: Dance

Tired of tech? Sick of screens?
Try these non-tech DANCE activities! 
Non-tech arts activities provided by professional educators in dance, drama, music, and visual arts on the BYU ARTS Partnership Leadership Team. 

Do I really have to move my body? 
Why can’t I just sit and watch movies or play video games?
Why can’t I just read all day? 

Most of us have been at home constantly over the past weeks. Have you, your students, or your children been asking these questions lately? Here’s some information to support moving your body, especially during a time when sitting and screen time have increased.

Dr. Joan Vernikos, the former director of NASA’s Life Sciences Division, is the author of “Sitting Kills, Moving Heals: How Simple Everyday Movement Will Prevent Pain, Illness, and Early Death -- and Exercise Alone Won’t”. She states: “The human body is designed to be much more physically active than most of us are today. Yet we have an understandable craving for comfort, and [new] inventions provide comfort to a degree previously unknown to even the wealthiest humans. As with any craving, our technological addiction leads us on a never-ending spiral of wanting more and more gadgets to do things for us that our ancestors used to do for themselves.”

She describes the health problems that result from these tech cravings: obesity, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, muscle degeneration, arthritis, balance and coordination issues, poor sleep, and a lack of energy. Even in a highly developed world, consequences like these that used to be associated with aging are now appearing much earlier, even in children.

Despite the many advancements designed to make our lives easier and longer, these same conveniences can make our bodies age more quickly! Sitting isn’t a new invention, but it is a fast track to aging according to Dr. James A. Levine, co-director of the Mayo Clinic/Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative and the inventor of the treadmill desk. His research provides evidence on how sedentary lifestyles directly connect to sluggish brain function and wandering thoughts.

Dr. Levine writes, “The true cost of sitting disease is even greater than the litany of medical illnesses. Most at stake is your sense of well-being. We all have a capacity for happiness. Sitting somehow suppresses it. Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death. How did no one notice?”

Dr. Levine wants us to despise our chairs, claiming that sitting is a sickness. We agree. However, chairs can make great dance partners. Movement is life! If we aren’t moving, we aren’t living. So don’t pull up a chair, pull out a chair! Or a broom, or a vacuum, or a blanket, or a scarf. (Really anything you don’t have to keep 6 feet away from is a good option for a dance partner--including family members, especially children.) Move your body and live a long life!

Okay, you get it. On your feet! Stand up, grab a family member and try out some of these fun non-tech dance activities.

Non-tech Dance Activities 

Chair Dance: Pull out a chair and explore all the ways you can safely dance around, over, through, and under your chair. How many ways can you connect different body parts or find balancing shapes with the chair? Partner with a friend or family member and take turns teaching each other what you’ve discovered to create a chair dance. Take your chair to a neighbor’s front yard and perform for them!

Imaginary Dance: Children can write about and illustrate a dance they imagine creating if they had unlimited time, money, and resources. They can draw a picture of the dance and describe how it would be performed, the costumes, what the sound accompaniment sounds like, who would be in the dance, and why this dance is important to them.

Handwashing Dance Choreography: Use handwashing as inspiration for a choreography project! Invite children to explore all the creative ways they can wash their hands. How fast or slow can they scrub? What if the sink was on the ceiling or on the wall? What if they had to wash their hands backwards or between their legs?

Movement Scientist Log: Have children write down movements that they see each day. Depending on their age, children can draw pictures of the movements or record information about the movements. Their pictures or writing can describe the object or person moving, the setting, the energy qualities (how the dance makes them feel), and the motion, timing, spatial elements, or body parts involved. Children can then create a dance phrase from the movement they captured.

Family Dance History: Invite students to interview family members about their dance backgrounds and interests. What dances do they know? What does dance mean to them? What is their favorite dance and why? Children can record the responses they get and document their own answers as well. Children can also create their own dance based on the responses of their family members, and share the dance with that person the next time they are together.

Dancing Journal: Play a new song each day and invite children to dance along. Afterward, children can draw or write about what they explored and how they felt. They can dance along to a recording, make the movement up themselves, or dance with their family.

Texture Dance: Children, family members, or students can choose four objects with different textures in their environment. List three adjectives to describe the texture of each object. Then, choose three axial or locomotor movements. Together, explore four variations of each movement by using the adjectives for each of the four objects. Each person can use their favorite movement variations to construct a dance to share.

Obstacle Course: Have children use objects and materials found in the home to set up an obstacle course. After completing the obstacle course, layer challenges such as going backwards, traveling through holding the same twisted physical shape from start to finish, or completing the task without their feet. See how many challenges you can think of!

Name Choreography: Students can create movement for each letter of their name by using a different body part to draw that letter in the air. "Draw a “J” with your leg, an “o” with your head, an “h” with your elbow, and an “n” with your knee. Choose a partner, and swap drawing each other’s names!

Found Sounds Dance: Children can find or create different sounds around the house and explore the movement they feel inspired to make when they hear those sounds. Kitchen pots and pans, toys, toothbrushes, plastic trash, or even their own bodies can all be used to create singular sounds that inspire unique movements.

Muscle Madness: Identify six to eight different muscles of the body to explore through flexing and creative movement. Spend about 30 seconds with each, exploring as many movement ideas as possible. Identify which movements require the most effort and would help strengthen muscles the most. Consider learning the scientific names for the muscles you explored!

Breathing Through Space: With or without music, use your breath to direct your movement. When you inhale, you can grow big, and when you exhale you can shrink your body. Or, perhaps your inhales uplift you to the tips of your toes and your exhales push you into the floor. See how you can move when inhaling or exhaling in quick, small spurts. Can your breathing make you travel to a new place in the room?

Moving Elements: Pick one of these main elements: earth, air, fire, or water. Make a list of the adjectives, verbs and adverbs that describe the element. Using the list, explore how your body can move like the chosen element. Consider choreographing a dance about the element to perform for your family, or to record and share with others! What props could you use? How does dancing like each element make you feel?

Written and compiled by Chris Roberts (Provo City School District Arts Instructional Coach), Heather Francis (Dance Educator, BYU ARTS Partnership Staff), and Rachel Marie Kimball (Dance Educator, GAINS Coach, Nebo School District). Find more resources at AdvancingArtsLeadership.com 
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