Learning Resource Type

Classroom Resource

The Way West - The Oregon Trail: Theme and Variation Folk Dance

Subject Area

Arts Education




Students will study and learn various folk dances from the Oregon Trail.  They will choreograph a folk dance based on the steps they learned throughout the unit.  They will perform the dance for their class.  

    Arts Education (2017) Grade(s): 2 - Dance


    Create a dance phrase with a main idea that has a clear beginning, middle, and end.

    Unpacked Content



    • prompts
    • elements of dance
    • locomotor
    • non-locomotor
    • dance phrase
    • structure
    • concept and inspirations
    • for choreography
    • dance phrase
    • improvisation
    • notation

    Essential Questions

    EU: The elements of dance, dance structures, and choreographic devices serve as both a foundation and a departure point for choreographers.
    EQ: What influences choice-making in creating choreography?

    Skills Examples

    • Execute a sequence of movements in different ways (i.e., different levels, timing, directions, body parts).
    • Create a dance based on a short story, with a beginning, middle and end.
    • Create a dance to a short poem and explain why movement expressed the idea.
    • Improvise movement to verbs and adjectives. Recall the movement and sequence to repeat.
    • Using basic stick figures to draw shapes used in a series of movements.

    Anchor Standards

    Anchor Standard 2: Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.
    Arts Education (2017) Grade(s): 2 - Dance


    Perform a dance in a space where the audience and performers occupy different areas while focusing on projecting to the audience.

    Unpacked Content



    • Space
    • Shape
      • Symmetrical
      • Asymmetrical
    • Facing
    • Pathway
    • Time:
      • Accented beat
      • Downbeat
      • Duple meter
      • Triple meter
    • Utilize quality of movement
    • Embody
    • Locomotor
    • Non-locomotor
    • Personal space
    • General space
    • Spatial relationship
    • Body awareness
    • Space
    • Projection in performance
    • Production elements

    Essential Questions

    EU: Dance performance is an interaction between performer, production elements, and audience that heightens and amplifies artistic expression.
    EQ: How does a dancer heighten artistry in a public performance?

    Skills Examples

    • Identify symmetrical and asymmetrical body shapes and examine relationships between body parts.
    • Differentiate between circling and turning as two separate ways of continuous directional change.
    • Recall and practice given steps or sequencing with facing or level changes (what was up, make it down, face the back instead of the front).
    • Create body shapes that change level and facings.
    • Demonstrate locomotor movement on a straight pathway, circular pathway, zig zag pathway; making clear changes when called out.
    • Identify the beat in metered music and execute movement on the downbeat (the 1) of duple and triple meter.
    • Demonstrate an accented movement (clap, stomp, or jump) only on the downbeat of a piece of music. Practice with different tempos and 2/4, 4/4, and 3/4 music.
      • Other examples: Waltz, triplet, walking, or marching.
    • Review the terms adverb and adjective and make a list of descriptive words, choose several and execute a given movement or sequence with the word in mind or explore the word with their body in free movement.
    • (i.e., bouncy, jiggly, loose, strong, etc.).
      • Other examples: Bouncy leap or floppy fall.
    • Demonstrate movement and sequencing that utilizes a variety of pathways for personal space and group formations.
      • Skipping across the floor followed by skipping in place.
    • Identify modifications for spatial placement in a dance phrase.
    • Repeat movement or sequencing in a group formation or group dance using an awareness of his/her own body in space and make modifications to adjust placement as needed or requested.
    • Practice using production elements (i.e., multimedia equipment, scenery, costumes, lighting).

    Anchor Standards

    Anchor Standard 6: Convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work.
    Arts Education (2017) Grade(s): 2 - Dance


    Observe or perform dance movements from a specific genre or culture and describe or demonstrate the movements.

    Unpacked Content



    • Identify recurring movement.
    • Create recurring movement.
    • Perform dance movements from a culture or genre and describe movement.
    • Identify meaning utilizing simple dance terminology.
    • Identify and explain movement to convey a theme or concept.

    Essential Questions

    EU: Perceive and analyze artistic work.
    EQ: How is dance understood?

    Skills Examples

    • Students create a call and response hand clapping rhythm and allow students to identify the pattern.
    • Students create a short phrase that includes a pattern of movement, then have other students identify the pattern.
    • View and/ or perform the Russian Troika, Charleston Bump, or Hoe Ana cultural dances.
    • Sauté to show surprise, melt to show sadness, leap to show happiness.
    • Identify the characters and describe the story in a narrative dance.
    • Draw a picture and write a caption in response to a live or recorded performance of dance.
    • Create short sentence that tell a story and have students improvise movement to describe the sentence.

    Anchor Standards

    Anchor Standard 7: Perceive and analyze artistic work.
    Link to Resource

    CR Resource Type

    Lesson/Unit Plan

    Resource Provider


    Resource Provider other

    Colorado Department of Education