No Series: Exploring Symmetry Through Dance

Exploring Symmetry Through Dance

Lesson Objective: Use dance to demonstrate understanding of symmetry
Grades 3-5 / Arts / Math


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Discussion and Supporting Materials

Thought starters

  1. How does using dance encourage a deeper understanding of math?
  2. What strategies does Ms. Caspersz use to help her students give each other meaningful feedback?
  3. How does Ms. Caspersz gradually prepare her students for the group dance?


  • Private message to Melanie Hwang

I actually was an old student of Ms. Caspersz, and she was a memorable favourite of mine for so many reasons shown in this video incorporating creation and movement into otherwise very static subjects. For someone who struggled with math, and lack of creativity in most lessons, innovative teaching like this is what inspired me to become a primary/junior teacher! You really are changing students' lives!

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  • Private message to Marc Soltis

Dance is a spatial understanding of symmetry and timing. In math, as lesson plans advance it is important for students to have the freedom to create symmetry through new spatial understanding.

The teacher, Ms. Caspersz lets the students warm-up on their own and then progresses to work with partner before the larger group begins.

The students understand the basics and are asked openly to reflect on what they liked. Later peer feedback allows students to give advice to the groups after they viewed their performance. 

This class allows the students to explore creative expression and communication through movement. These traits are vital for adults to optimize their knowledge in any field. This was fun to watch and gives greater meaning to a topic that can seem mundane to some.

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  • Private message to Su Wilterink
Has the video been pulled down? It wont load...
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  • Private message to Zaida Puyo
Thank you so much for sharing this video about symmetry, It's very engaging and meaningful . Worksheet free activity!
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  • Private message to Caroline Chumo
This video is a major inspiration for engaging students.
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  • Exploring Symmetry Through Dance Transcript
    CSC (Curriculum Service Canada)
    Teacher: Shereese Halley Caspersz

    Integrating any subject with dance is just another

    Exploring Symmetry Through Dance Transcript
    CSC (Curriculum Service Canada)
    Teacher: Shereese Halley Caspersz

    Integrating any subject with dance is just another way for students to communicate their understanding. The way that most educators work is it’s a pencil and paper task but dance is another way that they can communicate. So by showing their understanding through the movement of their body it’s actually easier than most think to determine if a child understands or not.

    Teacher: Today we have a very exciting lesson plan. We’re going to take the math lesson that we did yesterday and we’re going to integrate it with a little bit of dance. So we get to dance our math lesson. So our topic today is symmetry. So can you think back to math class, what is symmetry?

    Student: Something that divides an object?

    Teacher: What is it that divides that object in half?

    Student: The line of symmetry

    Teacher: The line of symmetry, excellent. Are we symmetrical?

    Student: Yes
    Teacher: We are. I’ve got some…

    A lot of students have trouble with the spatial aspect of math so even those who are straight A students in math, when we get to geometry and flipping shapes and moving shapes and symmetrical shapes, they just don’t understand it, so bringing them in, having them actually get up and do would actually solidify that concept in their heads.

    Teacher: I’ve got some dance pictures that we can take a look at because today we are going to be making our bodies into symmetrical shapes.

    The first task was really about the students using their own body to create symmetry and they really need an awareness of the right side of their body being identical to the left side of their body. I decided to focus on levels, so creating a low-level symmetrical pose into a higher level shape and then going to a high level shape, so they could be outstretched or reaching straight up

    Teacher: Should we do our dance warm-up?

    Student: Yeah …

    Teacher: OK, so let’s stand up, and can we go to our lines …

    There are two types of warm-ups, an isolation which is a standard warm-up going from the head down to your hips and just moving the body, one body part at a time, similar movements as in phys ed class, but we do it slower with the dance music. They really have their own creativity here so students can do what they wanted to do and kind of get their energy out as they were warming their bodies up.

    Teacher: Show us a symmetrical low-level pose. Good. Is it symmetrical? Yes…

    Student: Like math we learned how to find the symmetry and doing a symmetrical pose was pretty fun because you had to figure it out just like math.

    Teacher: Why don’t we all get up and dance together. So today we’re going to be taking those symmetrical shapes that we just practiced and we’re going to be using them low, medium and high and high, medium and low.

    Teacher: We’re go to have half the class dance and half the class watch and then…

    Teacher: As you watch we’re going to be thinking of one thing that they’re doing really, really, well and maybe one thing that we can do to improve their symmetrical movements.

    Student: In the low pose like her feet are really stretched out and she’s really balancing very well.

    Teacher: Do you think we could make it better? Any suggestions?

    Student: Get it to where it’s like stretching, like maybe a little bit more closed or something, make like different actions.

    Teacher: Nice and…

    Student: Her moves were really creative and nobody copied them and they were her own.

    Teacher: OK excellent

    Student: When they were doing the ripples they did it very creative and it looked like they were actually real ripples.

    Teacher: Good, oh very nice. Excellent. He did very well exploring symmetrical shapes by ourselves.

    Student: When you do like math worksheets you usually do it for like a teacher for homework and when you dance it you’re just doing it for yourself.

    Student: It’s more creative.

    Student: Pretty fun because you mix it around and you get really cool creative dance moves.

    Teacher: Well I think that our next part you’re going to like as well. We’re going to be creative and we’re going to move on to using partners.

    So the mirroring is an exercise where there’s a leader and a follower and the leader will be in charge, they can move any body part they want and the reflection, or the follower, has to do exactly as the first person does.

    Teacher: As long as your partner is doing the same thing you will be symmetrical. You can do five moves, ready?

    Teacher: I'm just going to put the music on and I want you to do what we just did but with your own creativity, so going from low, medium and high using the upper body, using the lower body…

    Teacher: We’re going to add some local motor movements. Now moving around the room is really easy all by yourself but what’s todays lesson?

    Student: You have to move around the room and mirror the moves with your partner.

    Teacher: Exactly, we’re doing our math dances and math dance today is all about symmetry. So I'm going to put some green tape down on the floor so that we have a line of symmetry and as were traveling we have to come in together and go out together.

    The way that the dance curriculum has gone to the creative process is fabulous. As students who normally take dance outside it’s almost like a sport, it’s just a follow the teacher, just do replicating the same movements but here in school they have the opportunity to be creative themselves so it allows the students to be naturally creative, but then find maybe that inner artist in them that they otherwise wouldn’t have a chance to discover.

    Teacher: I want you to spread out around the room and come up with your own symmetrical pathway. Just like before we’re looking for things that they’re doing really, really well, and maybe something they can improve for next time.

    Student: Well it was very creative and they had a lot of movement, that’s like wow.

    Student: I just like doing it with the partners because you’re not alone and if you just kind of mess up you’re still doing the same thing and they’re still with you.

    Student: I like the partners because you get to see what it’s like to work with a partner and I like to do it yourself because you get to think of yourself what you can do and what you can’t do.

    Teacher: Excellent! OK give yourselves a pat on the back for a job well done. Your task, your final task, is our group dance. So using all the elements that we’ve explored so far we’re going to create a symmetrical dance.

    Student: No, no, no, no you guys walk back like in a motion – and then me and him, we go zigzag….

    Student: Ohh! That’s perfect!

    Student: I like working with groups because you mostly use team work and then you start with a pose but you use your brains all together to work.

    Student: Well for our group it was really fun because we put all the things together, all our ideas, and it sort of ended up in a really cool fashion and it was really fun.

    Teacher: We put it all together at the end it and it really was progression of the lesson but really it was to bring all the different concepts together so the individual and the partner, the locomotor or the non-locomotor and we put together into at a short dance phrase, which is what the juniors were expected to do at this point.

    Teacher: It’s time for us to show what we have, so have a seat. As we are watching we’re going to be thinking of the elements of dance so that when we give our feedback and when we think about what we did we are able to give specific feedback…
    When talking about the elements of dance it makes them aware that dance is a story, dance is a journey, and there’s a reason why you do every single move.

    Teacher: So just to remind you we’ve written down on the chart paper the areas that we’re going to be thinking about and talking about.

    Student: They show a lot of locomotor and moving around a lot and working together really well.

    Student: I like the relationship because it related with the music and they worked with it like that.

    Teacher: …so they kind of joined everything together and we didn’t even practice with the music. Offer some suggestions?

    Student: Since they were a little smooth, they should get some ___ work.

    Student: They could use some more power when they’re doing sharp movements.

    Student: It was really fun choreographing and doing it all together.

    Student: They used a lot of space and they had good timing

    Student: Mostly we were on time so that’s why I think the best was the mirroring.

    Student: I like the opening and closing poses

    Student: All of the moves were symmetrical and they used their space really well.

    Student: They did locomotor moves on symmetry path a couple times rather than just once.

    Teacher: I always give you a homework reflection to do at home but today I'm going to make it easier, we’re going to do it in our groups. I’ll come around and see how you’re doing.

    Having seen what I did see with these lessons it’s definitely something I would repeat again and I would recommend to other teachers.

    Student: It’s cool.

    end of transcript


Shereese Halley Caspersz


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