Movement Reflection – Day 7

Level Ones,

What a day! Each and every one of you gave it your all! After cleaning the space with our scarves, we learned a longways set dance, a double circle rhythm stick dance from Mexico, and explored egg shakers and improvisatory movement through lines. And we can’t forget about the movement ostinati in small groups – wow! What are your thoughts on today?!

With Love, Matthew


  1. Paul

    The cleaning with scarves- great! Low/high, fast/slow, length vs shorter motions… so much to explore.

    The stick dance was fun, and as the video showed later in the day, adjustable to the level of the students.

    Movement ostinato… I’d like to see where this is leading. Will there be movement ostinati while others do some other prescribed movement or song? At any rate, the team activity was memorable. I feel like I’ll be forever connected with Brian from that activity.

  2. Barb English

    I have read the directions for the first dance that we did and always wondered why you take the path around the other line. Now that I’ve danced it, the form makes sense is I found it quite fun.
    I did better with the ostinato’s today but it still is not my favorite activity.
    The stick dance would engage my older students and I can see how it could become a great group activity that includes improvisation.
    I have never let the littles explore or discover the instruments. I teach Pre-K and I think I will try this method when I introduce them to some of the non pitched instruments then I will try showing them the correct way to play without using my voice.

  3. patrickh

    and thank you for all the little sounds when I make the slightest movement; which I now have to make when I have a thought just so it has a corresponding sound!!

  4. Emily Loftgren

    Cleaning with scarves is an activity that I do with my first grade students. It is an excellent way to explore the different levels in a fun and playful way. But I have never used the music Matt did. I’m looking forward to doing this activity with the music we used today.
    The dance with sticks was awesome. It was so easy to follow Matt. I am going to do this with my kids. I like how he doesn’t muddy up his teaching with lots of talking and instead has the students follow him without words. I know I talk way too much.
    Emily Loftgren

  5. mattcarlson

    We have a box of scarves in my classroom that has never been opened…that is going to change, and pretty early in the year too. I also really enjoyed the egg shaker activity, I could see my kids having fun with it, especially my ELL students when we don’t have to use words to communicate. I’ve enjoyed the sounds, expressions, and signals given throughout the course, so much fun.

    • svanhoecke

      Scarves are so fuuuuun! They can be so many things…leaves, wind, rain, rainbows, snow, and now cleaning rags!

    • Kris Curtis

      When I first started teaching Matt, I had absolutely no idea how to use the scarves, they just essentially sat in the box. Through workshops and this course, I’m beginning to gradually see the benefits of working with them as movement props. Had great success with first graders using them in the GamePlan curriculum last year. Totally planning on using scarves more with the kids in various grade levels too. We should totally share our insights and successes on the Orff Level I Facebook page throughout the course of the year to further our growth.

  6. hillary miller

    I asked last year if I could get scarves. I never got an answer. I think I am going to have to ask again. I have enjoyed the scarf activities, and I definitely want to try these activities with my students. I can see using the maraca activity too. I also happen to have a bin of small maracas, so I’m set to go. I also want to try the xylophone exploration with my students. The use of nonverbal instruction has so many positive attributes. I think the fairly silent environment would make students focus more, as they know they will miss instruction if they are not paying attention.

  7. jcompto2

    I continue to be amazed at how I already have so many things in my music room that can be used in new ways as part of the ORFF approach. I have used scarves in various ways over the years, but the lesson this morning was so engaging, creative, and most of all FUN! It feels really good to be creative, make interesting sounds in response to actions, and pay attention to the teacher (Matthew) with such a high level of focus. I am trying to embrace and hold on to how this feels, so I can create the same opportunity for my students.

    I believe it will be the “letting go”, that will humble me. I will work to be present in the moment with my students and not be worried about following the lesson plan or watching the clock. I love the idea of being a “facilitator” and partner alongside my students to create amazing experiences, some small, some big, but all very meaningful.

    Who would ever have guessed that a tiny egg shaker could be such a powerful creative tool? Hmm. What other things can I find around to try out with my students?

    I LOVED seeing the video of Matthew’s students! It was so powerful to learn it first, then see the children in action. Thanks, Matthew for sharing that with us!

    James Compton

  8. Kedra

    I also really loved the scarf activity and accompanied music. I decidedly also need to let go and just have more fun in my classroom. I am constantly focused on completing the lesson and making sure that all the music concepts are covered and really learned, but going back to a childlike play state is something I need to do much more often. The egg shaker activity was also fun and engaging. The way we got the shakers out was very different for me. When I have my students get instruments like sticks, shakers, or scarves I tell them to look away from the box and reach in so that they don’t spend a ton learning time picking out their favorite color. I go back and forth on this because I only see my students once a week for 45 min and I want to get as much out of the time as possible, but I do see how important it is for children to get time to simply play with the instruments and explore them in a fun and yet meaningful way. I also loved the stick dance! How fun!

    • svanhoecke

      Kedra- what if you did this same exploring a new item/instrument in a circle but instead of passing it around it was in the middle of the circle and whoever had an idea of how to use it or demonstrate it would jump up and show a way. Kind of like how we did with the scarf and the cork during responsive classroom time. That way you could manage exactly how much time you actually spend on that. 🙂 Just an idea because I know I can relate to feeling pressed for time.

    • Amberlynn

      I’m thinking that this suuuuuper careful deliberate approach is perfect for the first (or first few) times of getting an object, and could easily be adapted to set the tone for whatever will be coming next. And, as students become experts at getting objects for themselves this careful training will set them up to go quicker without needing to stand gaurd.

  9. Lisa Marxer

    I have used scarves for several activities with music and movement, but never cleaning the room! That was an engaging lesson in AB form.
    Everyday is filled with something new to learn in this course. I have never tried “leader on tracks” using the lines on the floor (and ceiling!). I have taught the Los Machetes dance before but never like that! What a cool way to focus in on movements that may be new to the students. I could definitely adapt to this new way of teaching movement.
    The egg shaker exploration was really intense. I was grateful that some colleagues were willing to break rules to see what would Matt do. Even in non-verbal instruction, there are ways to communicate expectations and boundaries. I agree with Emily and Hilary: non-verbal communication is very effective when used well. I will have to explore this method of teaching very carefully.

  10. Kathleen

    Scarf cleaning dance made me think of the practical life aspect of montessori. Those activities—mimed—could be varied from time to time( mopping, window cleaning, dusting, scrubbing etc). I really enjoyed thinking about this.

    I am still enjoying learning new ways to teach dance without words and trying to analyze the dances I usually teach to see which requires talking and which can i use mouth sounds.

    Egg shakers into movement machine:
    I appreciate the time taken to pass out materials, teaching care of materials and ownership as a class. I know it will engage and maintain focus. The correction of students is also refreshing, as I hear a number of my other colleagues (not at this class) do not take time to correct or teach respect to the environment.

    I’m thinking my older students could handle the machine project. I have to admit to thinking, as you were closing that activity, that I might need to really think hard on how I would teach this, incorporating which concepts to achieve a machine. What learning is necessary before attempting this lesson? 🤔

    “Leader on the tracks” will be very useful for all ages, including my 3yo PE class, obviously adapted for their abilities.

    I do wonder how this lesson and perhaps other lessons would be used when teaching those with vision impairment.

    Los Machetes: This is another old friend. Love the possibilities here. As my classes are so small, we can not manage a double circle, usually, but partnering up will change the game a little. I wonder what other manipulatives could be used instead of rhythm sticks? A tennis ball? Egg shakers? Just to get a different perspective. What other ideas would the students come up with in C? I don’t think I realized I was stuck in my teaching patterns. I feel so liberated!

  11. BrianEJanssen

    Good stuff today (again)! I think the Machete dance would be fun and different for my middle grades, and I look forward to teaching it!

    I’m glad we got to do more with the movement ostinati today. This last year I dipped my toe into having the students make up body percussion ostinati, but I’m now seeing the possibilities go WAY beyond what I was thinking. I appreciate the constant reminders about adding levels; it’s my tendency to forget, and such a simple reminder adds a lot to what’s happening. Adding the connection points and then the rattle passing upped the difficulty level dramatically! The pace of our changes in that exercise were almost too fast for me to keep up, so I’m wondering how much slower to go with students (or is it better to keep pushing fast)?

    I just taught ‘Alabama Gal’ to my classes last year, and most seemed to enjoy it, so I might try teaching ‘Sweets of May’ early in the fall! The two follow-the-leader lines at the beginning would be a fun addition to casting off they learned last year.

    And the scarf thing at the beginning was fun, too! I think an activity like this might be a nice complement for the “Move Its” I do with my littles…a small percentage of kids within these classes say these choreographed moves are “boring,” so something like this that has plenty of changes and lots of room for variation/improvisation would be nice (if I can keep them from crashing into each other, that is).

  12. svanhoecke

    Today’s Movement class felt particularly tied to our Pedagogy and Recorder lessons because of the extra focus on improvisation. I feel fairly comfortable helping kids explore improvisation on instruments but haven’t had a lot of experience facilitating movement improvisation. I think I just run out of ideas of ways to encourage kids to explore. I am enjoying the examples of “What if…” that we can take back and use in our own setting.

    I am loving the concepts we are learning in Movement and Responsive Classroom that turn introducing a new instrument into a whole fun event. I never thought of allowing students to really explore everything an instrument (or object) can do and giving them the freedom to discover and try different things before landing on what I actually plan on them doing with the instrument.

    With enough creativity you don’t really need anything but yourself, a partner, or a small group to create meaningful movement and/or music experience. All the extra stuff like scarves, egg shakers, and xylophones are just a bonus. I need to remember that I don’t always have to use a bunch of “the stuff” to get kids engaged and excited about a lesson. There is so much we can do without it.

    I will definitely be borrowing the scarf cleaning activity! So much contrast and super fun. Especially when you wear a dress that twirls when you spin. Highly recommend it.

  13. Allison

    I absolutely LOVED the stick game and the machine/egg shaker activities! I would love to utilize the machine activity as a team building activity at the beginning of the year (fingers crossed!!!) . I tend to have to rely on the classroom teacher to set the tone of a given class…but during this activity today, it really made me think that I could help each class try to work as a team!

    I mentioned this with Jennifer when she was here too, I love the music selections that have been used! (I am seriously making a list of either cds to buy or songs to download!) . In regards to the longways set dance, stick game, machine, etc; is there opportunity to use ANY song as long as it fits the form of the activity OR should we stay with the specific song that was used?

    I have never been a huge fan of scarves…it may be possible that I hadn’t seen them used properly until today!

  14. stalsberg87

    I absolutely loved the opening activity with the scarves accompanied by music. I also enjoyed finding ways to connect to another classmate with my movement ostinato, I enjoyed the response from my classmates when I pulled out the first shaker without a handle!!! There was a strong connection between mirroring and leading our partner with the shaker. I feel like I am getting more toned after each one of these lessons too!! 🙂

  15. Andrea Dinkel

    I loved everything about today! The opening scarf cleaning/dance was so much fun. It was easy to differentiate between the two sections and I can see myself using it with quite a few classes! The movement ostinato was challenging, but it surprised me how it came together once our group put it to the music at a faster tempo. I think our group was doing a lot of overthinking and when the music came on we were forced to all put it together and make it work, and it did!

  16. Grace Johnson

    Some of my favorite activities have been the instrument explorations. This will be a super useful with my primary students. Today the activity with body part isolation and the egg shakers was so fun, silly, and beneficial to learn about how to use it! I would love to try the machete dance with my students but the sticks make me nervous 😂 I will need to work on my pre teaching plan to set us up for success!!

  17. ggoodson

    I’m sorry if my comment ends up twice–i thought it worked and then it didn’t show up and booted me off the site!

    I have really enjoyed how the instrument exploration has been demonstrated. This is going to be a very useful tool for me. The activity with the egg shakers and isolating body parts was fun, engaging, and silly…I know my primary students would love it! It ties in so well with the responsive classroom work that I can’t wait to see how those changes positively affect my classroom.
    I also loved the machete dance…but I’m nervous about trying it with my students and stick related injuries! I need to really think how I will build up their skills with the sticks to avoid gouging eyes and smashing fingers. I’m sure with the right scaffolding it will be successful!

  18. Kris Curtis

    Today was an amazing day of movement. So many takeaways personally and realizations of what I could do in my classroom to expand movement throughout all the grade levels. First off, the Scarf Cleaning Dance was an eye opener of how to use scarves in a folk dance setting. Also a big fan of the Klezmer music. It brought forth the difference between tension and release with force. The A section was heavy with force with extended movement. The B section was more lively and freer with the musical characteristics, which became a natural extension of my movement today. This will be one folk dance that I will definitely add to my repertoire. Secondly, the movement with exploring egg shakers was extremely insightful. Instruments used as a prop for movement can bring out the most elemental discovery in students especially with the really little ones (e.g. Kindergarten – 1st Grade). The guided exploration and improvisation of how we react with the instrument provides reaction training to our students. Also being engaged with partners in this activity, facilitates cooperative learning in small groups and as a whole class. It was cool to see the egg shaker – maraca hybrid instrument. I’ll have to see if I can get some for my classroom. Lastly getting to experience the “Los Machetes” folk dance with lumni sticks was great on sooo many levels. The drummer and dance sides of me felt in heaven with experiencing this with the class! I felt like this particular dance would resonate well with my 5th and 6th graders. I like the aspects of it building on form gradually with movement and percussively using the sticks. I noticed when we did improvised rhythms with one person being vertical and the other horizontal with their sticks; their needed to be non-verbal communication happening with the eyes and hands of the other person or didn’t really work well. Great day of artful movement through and through. 🙂

  19. Amberlynn

    What if… Leader On Tracks was played like a game with a goal? Like, lines of people tried to get to a goal point while keeping other lines from reaching that goal. Like mobile human Blocks. Is there already a video game like that? I feel like there is.

    I really enjoyed Los Machetes.

    I am sore tonight! I need to stretch more but also be easier on myself with the creative expression. But there’s so much to explore it’s so hard to hold back!

  20. Tracy Cripe

    The Scarf Cleaning Dance was so engaging for everyone. I can’t wait to see the kid’s faces when we use the scarves in a whole new way!
    I really enjoyed the Movement Machine and finding a way to pass the shaker through our connections and poses. Building from individual poses to partners and then to a group with the prop was eye opening.

    I’ve seen “Los Machetes” performed by a colleague’s class a couple of times and even had her teach me the dance, but have never gotten around to teaching it to my classes…….but this is the year!

    The Spanish action song/dance we did at the end of the class?…Is that on the google drive? 🙂

    • matthewstensrud

      Soy Una Taza and it’s in your Responsive Classroom notes on paper, on the website, and on the Google Drive! 🙂 – Matthew

  21. apeterkort

    Even though I don’t have my own music classroom there are a lot of movement activities that I could do with students. For example, telling stories like “Clean” the room, or the story about fixing the barn in a storm. These stories allow students to move in atypical ways and students love to show how they can work so hard.

    I could also use the egg shaker activity with students provided the teacher has the shakers. I was amazed at all the different creative ways people handled their eggs. Then when we formed partners and our partner led our body part attached to the egg it was a challenge to keep coming up with different body parts to lead.

    Again I could also use the lines with leader lesson plan although I think the individual following the lines would be better for me from a classroom management standpoint.

    I am becoming more aware of just how many different activities I can take into the classroom that these movement classes have introduced me to, and so creative too. Students get very little time in their day to be creative in school. Playing opens the door to creativity.

  22. griebeew

    Scarves – I have really run out of ways to use them in classes, and pretty much only use them for color props (when doing color theme songs) or K students. Using the them to “clean” (and unknowingly explore levels) is brilliant, and a great way to do something other than fly, float, toss, or spin with them.

    My favorite of the day was the machete dance. I keep getting distracted when I look for repertoire that includes dynamic and engaging stick movements/rhythms, but that is exactly what I have wanted! I would probably want to do it more than the kids. 🙂

    And it was great to see the result of the “crayon” exploration. Looking forward to trying that more.

  23. krismosch

    The scarves “cleaning” movement activity was fabulous and incorporated so much – slow, fast, stretching, form… If I teach it to my kindergarteners, they probably won’t stop asking me to “play” it again 😉

    It’s amazing how the “Following the line” activity provides a sense of direction visually – especially helpful for younger learners. It was amazing to see how the shadowing and echoing with other groups led to a “push and pull” or “tension and release” wavy motion. At this point I would have loved to not follow the lines in the room/on the floor any more, since the groups themselves actually created those. During shadowing exercises, I always enjoy joining different groups and watching the dynamics in the room!

    In regard to the responsive classroom, it helped having Matthew talk more about why we should do these exercises with the children. I can see the benefit of getting to know the instruments in such a way. I also liked the idea of giving the students the chance to pick their instruments (shaker) carefully and respectfully and avoid tantrums. I like Matthews suggestion above to put the object in the middle of the circle and have some students model it. This is indeed a time saving variation. I am wondering if the responsive classroom is all about teaching through these object focused exercises or are there other activities that are also used?

    The “machine” activity was very interesting. This time, though, I really liked the result, not so much the process, since I actually ended up with the same movements I started off with (we had to make the circle closer, so close movements). I would like to explore this machine idea some more and figure out how to make this work for younger children. The would love it!

  24. Brandon Day

    It was another day full of excellent activities (between movement, recorder and pedagogy) that I myself mentally, emotionally & physically spent at the end of each day. I particularly enjoyed the Los Machetes (mexican rhythm stick dance). This activity is something that I’ll definitely use at my main school because its SUPER fun and by incorporating it I’ll be breaking the European dominated music mold and it’ll resonate with my latino students (who make up about 30% of the student population). Thank you for sharing this activity Matthew! I also enjoyed watching the students performing in Matthew’s classroom. It should how much they like it and are all engaged in the activity.

    Once again, I found the use of non-verbal instructions, this time in regards to instrument treatment and care fascinating (the demonstration of all students with taking & returning the shakers/eggs to the basket as well as the xylophone key treatment). I definitely had an “aha” moment as Matthew gave his generic speech of instrument care, “these are expensive instruments, the range of the instrument is C to C sounding two octaves, etc.” I this point I realized how I probably come across this way to my students, or even sounding more like the “trombone from Charlie Brown.” It was nice to see non-verbal instruction used in a different form which is something I hope to emulate starting new Wednesday on the first day of school.

  25. Brianna

    Another awesome day in movement! I really loved the scarf dance! So much to unpack with that: legato vs. non-legato movement, form, movement levels, showing various levels of tension within movement, etc. I loved the way Matthew taught Sweets of May with almost no verbal cues. I observed this dance being taught with counts and verbal instructions when I was student teaching and it was so confusing and stressful that I haven’t attempted it with my students. I now feel confident that I could teach this dance to my students. I also really enjoyed Matthew’s instrument exploration with the egg shakers and xylophone. So many great ideas to remember! I’m glad we have notes.

  26. Adrienne

    Loved taking time to dramatize different dance parts and the use of simple props to do meny different connected activities. I will be reviewing the materials as well as my space when I return to school and thinking about how to incorporate these new insights.

  27. Diana

    I continue to enjoy the use of non verbal cues and feel like it contributes to a more focused, responsive and positive classroom. Loved using the scarfs (they had the perfect weight to them).

  28. apeterkort

    Today I learned about positive and negative space. Although I have experienced it in POSA workshops I didn’t know the terminology. It can be a little risky getting in people’s personal space. Emily and I explored different levels to fill the negative spaces.

    I noticed in the hand drum exploration that when Adrienne and I performed we were automatically coming up with high sounding rhythms when we made smaller drums and low sounding rhythms when we made big drums. I wonder if students would do the same.

    I really enjoyed making up our own folk dances in our groups. I noticed that when one group was trying to teach it to another group, it wasn’t necessarily easier for me, for example to pick up on the steps just because more people were involved teaching the dance. I found it confusing when so many people were involved in trying to get me to learn the dance. It was almost a sensory overload.

    I’ve definitely been coming out of my movement shell, and today was no exception. I was completely taken over with emotion during Barber’s Adagio (didn’t realize that there was a choral version until today). That was such fun! Thank you! Can’t wait to see what’s in store for us tomorrow!

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