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Dance & Movement Activities

Traffic Lights
Submitted by Robyn on 3-1-11

Size of Group: 6-18

Equipment/Supplies Needed: chairs, green and red card

Activity/Treatment Objective or Expected Outcome: Physical game, one winner but this is not a favourism game, make sure everyone who participated gets a prize, this is not a competitive game

Description of the Activity: It is a bit like musical chairs but without the music, instead you use red and green card (red meaning stop moving about the room and find a chair, green meaning go and move about the room)you must have one chair less than the number of people playing the game in order for this game to work.The last person with the chair wins taking one chair out of the game in every round.


Jam Fest
Dance/ movement activity for children and Adults with MR and DD (wheelchairs & ambulatory)
submitted by Joy Schoffer on June 11, 2006

Size of Group: 10-15

Equipment: warm bodies, and some dancing music

Objective: to increase socialization skills, cognitive skills, good for following directions. Provides opportunity for independence during activity.

Description: Have individuals stand around in a circle. One by one, a person will go in the middle of the circle and do a movement while people around the circle, imitate that movement. When that individual feels they are ready to move on, they will point to another person in the circle to come into the middle to make another movement, for the group to imitate. Go all the way around the circle until everyone has a turn. You can go as many times as you like. You'd be surprised how many smiles come out!!


Wheelchair Dancing
submitted by Judy Kimmons on Wednesday, August 8, 2001

Size: 2

Equipment: None

Objective: Social dancing for couples where one person is in a wheelchair. This gives both parties exercise as well as an additional social activity.

Description: We teach progressive dancing (two-step, waltz) to couples where one person is in a wheelchair. The person need to be in a manual wheelchair and have a fair amount of upper body strength and range of motion.


Submitted by Lynn Benway, West Virginia University Student and member of WVU Orchesis

SPACE REQUIRED: Activity Room with all the tables and chairs moved to the side of the room or any open area.

EQUIPMENT/MATERIALS: Drum or music, 3 pass card (chips, tokens, etc) for each person

SIZE: Small Group or Large Group


  1. To acquaint participants with another.
  2. To share feelings or events of themselves with the group.
  3. To acquaint feelings and events with movement.
  4. To promote physical movement.



  • Sit on the floor in a circle.
  • Have a discussion covering the following:
  1. " Do you know me (if not) Does that mean I am a nobody? (Wait for a response) NO!
  2. "I am a person - We all are people" "I have a name - you have a name"
  3. "My name is _____________________"
  • Go around to each person stating your name
  • Next state the rules: Each person has 3 passes to use on a turn they wish to pass. (Suggestion to give: tell them to save the passes till they really feel the need to use them.)


1) Pick five (use fewer if group is larger) open-ended question (there are several at the end of this program description) that would be appropriate for your group. The leader starts first and states the open-ended question with their response. Then the next person in the circle states the open-ended question and response. As the open-ended questions get harder give everyone time to think then start in the circle.

2) Pick one open-ended question that the group already responded and prompt the group to put hand and body movement to it. Give them enough time.

3) One at a time, each person show by: saying the open-ended question with their response along with their movement. Go around 3 times, each time with a different open-ended question (This is for the leader in their head to pick 3 open-ended questions that would be appropriate)

4) The leader will ask one person to do theirs and teach everyone it. Make sure everyone is saying the question & response as they move. Repeat many times.

5) The leader ask another person to do theirs and teach everyone it. Make sure everyone is saying it as they move. Repeat as necessary.

Example: My worst memory was..................................

"When my brother beat me up....."

Movement with the sentence:

Point to myself, then hold my head, then raised my arms up to show big, punched my hand , pointed to myself.


  • Do a simple body warm up: head, shoulders, arms, back, hamstrings, and calves.
  • Spread everyone out: explain that no one is wrong and just concentrate on yourself and no one else. This takes imagination.
  • The leader will say something and you have to imagine and move to what you think in your head.
  • Give an example: Play baseball- one can pitch, run, hit..
  • The leader can announce any sport
    • animals
    • events
    • emotions
    • descriptive words
  • If the group is responding well, the leader can give direction with the sport, animal or emotion. Some would be to move to the floor, travel, move slowly, shake.


The leader will announce something and the group or individual can move across the room how ever they want. They can walk, run, or move their body any way they want.

How would you move across the room when......................

You are happy

You feel good about yourself accomplishments

  • You have lost a game
  • You feel rushed/ hurry
  • You are concerned with time
  • You feel free
  • You powerless
  • You feel like you have done something wrong
  • You had an experience that made your life worth living

The leader will play music that is dramatic. Prefer if it had no words like opera music

Next, two at a time will travel going across the room doing anything you want, but they have to stop and yell, then continue to move and jump and say "bye".

End with a warm down of a walk across the floor. Then sit in a circle on the floor and have a discussion on what they thought or learned.

OPEN ENDED QUESTIONS:(for use with activity in Part I)

  • What one of your greatest achievements are..
  • My favorite activities is ...
  • A place I spent one of my happiest days was ...
  • I go to be alone ...
  • My future goal is to ...
  • What make me happy ...
  • When I get enough money I will ...
  • When I have enough time, I want to ...
  • If this weekend was 3 days long I would ...
  • I feel most bored when ...
  • I feel most satisfied when ...
  • I enjoy being ...
  • My fondest memory is ...
  • I can really get excited about ...
  • A new leisure activity I tried this week ...
  • How did I feel about this week in participating in activities ...
  • I feel proud when I ...
  • I feel best when people ...
  • I am best at ...
  • I get angry when ...
  • I have accomplished
  • The thing that amuses me is ...
  • my greatest strength is ...
  • I have never liked...
  • like people who...
  • Someday I am going to ...

Sit Down Dancing
Submitted by Jacqueline Mills of CDTA  on Sunday, January 26, 2003

Size: up to 30 people

Equipment: dance music, variable speed tape recorder (karaoke often works,) large enough space for participants to sit in a circle

Objective: A chance for people to dance again, adapted for sitting down

Description: I do a program of modified folk dances from round the world in nursing homes, ADP's and seniors lodges. Usually I use music familiar to the participants (such as the Irish Washerwoman, a polka from a European country, a little jazz dance) and I modify the movements for sitting down. There's a web page that describes a bit more what it's all about. If you have a dance background you could adapt a program too.

Do What I Do
submitted by Pam and Dawn of MHT

Target Population: Seniors

Size: medium

Equipment: Have a cassette player with a tape of square dancing music played low in the background.

Objective: To bring cohesion to the group through the use of enjoyment, stimulation, and releasing tension.

Description: Ask your participants to all stand in a circle. The leader will ask the participants to follow what he or she says out loud. For example: Hold hands and move to the left in a circle. Hold hands and go to the right in a circle. Hold hands and go towards the center. Drop hands and go back from center of circle. Then go towards center and hold hands again. Repeat this sequence until the group becomes accustomed to the routine.


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