Learning Resource Type

Learning Activity

Movement to Show Musical Phrasing

Subject Area

Arts Education




Students will create a dance to show musical phrasing of the song "You Are My Sunshine."

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

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


    Select movements that express an idea or emotion or follow a musical phrase and explain reasons for movement choices.

    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.


    Learning Objectives

    Learning Objectives

    Students will select movements that follow a musical phrase and explain reasons for their choices.

    Activity Details

    Play the song "You Are My Sunshine". Ask students to listen and sing along when they can. While they listen, use your arm moving slowly from one side to other to show musical phrasing. Ask students what they think you were doing with your arm. Explain that music is performed in phrases and that there is a clear beginning and ending to the phrase. Ask them to perform the arm movement with you and play the song again.

    Divide students into small groups of 3-5 students each. Ask each group to create a dance that reflects the phrases in the music. For example, they may move to the right for the first phrase, then to the left on the second phrase. Explain that they must stay on each selected movement for the entire phrase before going to the next movement. This should only be done for one verse of the song. Movements can be repeated for each successive verse.

    Allow each group to perform for the class.

    Assessment Strategies

    Assessment Strategies

    Observe students as they are working in groups and redirect as needed.

    Variation Tips

    This can be done with any simple song. You could also create the movement together as a class or individually instead of in groups.

    Background and Preparation

    Background / Preparation

    Listen to the song and identify musical phrasing.

    Digital Tools / Resources