Nathan Turton

Section J1

Native American Music and Dance Activity

Grade Level: Lower Primary

Lesson Time: 45 Minutes

Subjects: Music/Steady Beat (Focus — Rhythm) and Dance


Artistic Perception: The students will demonstrate keeping steady beat through practice exercises and stepping to the beat. By using instruments such as conga drums, tambourines and rhythm sticks, student will demonstrate several different beat and rhythm patterns.

Creative Expression: As a class, the students will demonstrate how to keep the beat in many different body positions, heights and movements in high, medium and low spaces. They will invent a dance using and expressing their knowledge of Native American heritage.


Children today need to be aware of cross-cultural differences. They also need to be aware of cross-cultural similarities. By using the Native American-style music and dance moves, they will not only see the "normal" Native American customs, but also start to build a bridge over the gap of their differences. By creating the dance themselves, the students will get learn aesthetic value and practice their creativity.


Leading, encouraging, direct instruction

Music and Dance Vocabulary

Tom-tom — small drum

Tambourine — a jingling bell-studded drum

Rhythm Sticks — sticks to whack together



The teacher (specialist) will come into the room dressed as a Native American. Children will more likely identify with the traditional local tribes. He will learn legends of the local tribes and will tell the stories accordingly. The stories will be true, as they are known, about bears, eagles and other image-invoking legends. After these are over, the teacher will turn on a tape of Native American music and ceremonial chanting.


  1. Let the students brainstorm about the ideas that they had after listening to Native American legends and music. Write everything on board.
  2. Teacher will demonstrate how to use instruments [handing them out as s/he sees fit (Either by random order or for "deserving" students").
  3. Play music for children. To the beat of the music, review high, medium and low level body movements. While doing this, incorporate local tribe dance moves to authenticate the dance. List dance moves on board so they will not be forgotten.
  4. Ask for volunteers to demonstrate their dance in front of the class.
  5. Play music and let children do the dance that they invented.


Ask students what they learned from today’s lesson. See if they noticed anything in their dance that worked well or didn’t work at all. What should they change for next time? How do the children feel after doing their Native American dance? Going over movements in the different spaces would also be beneficial as the students are starting to figure out how their bodies work. Ask the children if they knew why brainstorming was a good idea for this exercise. Ask the children why it is important to keep the spirit of Native American ways of life "alive."

Clean Up

Children will return the instruments to proper receptacles, while teacher collects CD’s and tapes and puts them away.


Teacher will observe how well the students are keeping the beat and moving in time with the music. Are the students able to stay in synch with the music?

Teacher will observe the students dance through three different spaces with low, medium and high-body movements. Are their movements correlating with the instruments and the music?



Native American CD’s or tapes


Native American Outfit


Rhythm Sticks


References for myths and legends will vary with local tribes