Learning Resource Type

Learning Activity

Character Movement

Subject Area

Arts Education
English Language Arts




Students will create a 16-count dance that communicates and describes a character in a story. Students will base their dance on a character's traits. 

This activity was created as a result of the Arts COS Resource Development Summit.

    Arts Education (2017) Grade(s): 3 - Dance


    Create a dance phrase that communicates an idea or feeling and discuss the effect of the movement choices.

    Unpacked Content



    • prompts
    • use elements of dance
    • movement problem
    • choreographic devices
    • structure
    • dance phrase
    • concept and inspirations for choreography
    • feedback and revision
    • dance study
    • notation
    • dance phrase

    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

    • Use a variety of prompts for inspiration (i.e., music/ sound, text, objects, images, notation, observed dance experiences).
    • Find a way to travel across the floor only using a low level.
    • Select a choreographic device and create a dance phrase (i.e., retrograde, scramble/ deconstruct, transposition, inversion, or fragment).
    • Create a short movement phrase and perform with "sad" emotion then "happy" emotion. Discuss how the movement changed.
    • Discuss and use peer feedback or instructor feedback.
    • Create a floor map, using different colors for different levels of movement.

    Anchor Standards

    Anchor Standard 2: Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.
    English Language Arts (2021) Grade(s): 3


    Describe literary elements within a story, including setting, plot, characters, and themes.

    Unpacked Content



    • Describe
    • Literary elements
    • Story
    • Setting
    • Plot
    • Characters
    • Themes


    Students know:
    • Literary elements within a story include the setting, plot, characters, and themes.
    • Setting is when and where a story takes place.
    • Plot is the main events of a story (often referred to as the beginning, middle, and end of a story).
    • Characters are any person, animal, or figure that affect the plot.
    • Theme is the main, recurring idea in a text.


    Students are able to:
    • Identify and describe the literary elements, including setting, plot, characters, and theme, within the text.


    Students understand that:
    • Identifying and describing literary elements within a story will help in comprehending the text.


    Learning Objectives

    Learning Objectives

    Students will use dance to describe a character in a story.

    Students will develop a dance that communicates an idea. 

    Activity Details

    Read aloud the book Anansi the Spider by Geral McDermont. 

    After one read through, return to the page that displays each son of Anansi and their name. Make a chart on the board with a column for each spider. 

    As a whole group, students will list character traits for each spider. After listing traits ask the students to think of a way they could use movement for each spider. How would Road Builder be different from Stone Thrower? Add these movements to the chart. 

    Students will stand up behind their desks and practice each spider's agreed upon movement. Students MUST be able to defend why they are moving their body a certain way to communicate their spider. 

    Students will pair up to create a 16 count dance movement that communicates ONE spider. They must use low, middle and high dance space.

    Assessment Strategies

    Assessment Strategies

    Students will perform their movements for the class. The class will have to determine which spider the students are trying to communicate. 

    Background and Preparation

    Background / Preparation

    The teacher will need to get a copy of the book Anansi the Spider by Gerald McDermott.

    The teacher will need to create space for the students to move throughout the classroom.