16 Ideas for Teaching Dance in PE


Keeping students interested in physical education can be a difficult task. This is especially true in the case of larger classes, limited equipment, and a wide range of student abilities. To combat all of these issues, some PE instructors have started incorporating dance into their lessons. By using dance as a teaching tool, these instructors are able to use creativity, involve more students, teach life skills,  and use resources wisely, all while allowing students to become fully involved in the teaching process. Also, keep in mind that Dance & Rhythms is in the National Standards and should be considered when teaching physical education.

Why Teach Dance in PE?

  • Many students can feel left out or inadequate in traditional PE activities such as team sports. Often, these activities focus on the students who are already good at sports, which discourage others. Dance can offer a break from these activities and allow these students to shine.

  • “Dance” is an incredibly wide area of study. This means you can appeal to a number of backgrounds through dances from the hula to line dancing.

  • Teaching dance teaches students skills they can use at events outside of the classroom, such as social events. Additionally, exposure to rhythm helps children understand other concepts, such as music.

  • Instructors can adapt dance lessons for any ability or age group. This allows for a wider range of students to feel as if they can succeed in the activity, which encourages enthusiasm.

  • Students can bring in their own music, which also allows for more involvement.

  • Teaching dance uses little equipment—generally, all an instructor needs is a large space, something to play music, and maybe a screen to show moves more easily. This helps with keeping costs low.

  • Forming dance steps can easily incorporate other fitness ideas, such as calisthenics, in a fun way.

How to Use Dance in PE

  • As stated above, using student input to choose songs allows for more involvement.  Using different kinds of songs can get students with all kinds of backgrounds more engaged.

  • Make sure that there are large spaces and enough room for everyone to move around.

  • Consider using steps that can be modified to fit abilities. This will help more students feel as if they can participate and do well.

  • On a similar note, remember that the main goal of this is to keep students moving. This means that it’s better to encourage students to do their best rather than emphasizing doing the steps perfectly.

  • The jigsaw method can empower students to feel as if they are capable. In this strategy, the instructor organizes students into small groups and assigns each group to learn a step of the dance. When the groups have learned that step, they teach it to the rest of the class.

  • Starting with small steps helps make the process seem less daunting and easier to learn.

  • Websites such as YouTube and Vimeo have many examples of dances and ideas that other instructors can adapt or build off for their students.

  • If you have a space with a stage or a screen, you can use it to your advantage. Showing steps on a stage elevates you, so more students can see you. Additionally, using a screen allows for video use.

  • Make sure to encourage students that all sorts of people dance, regardless of gender or other interests.

Teaching dance in physical education classes can benefit both teachers and students. Dance allows instructors to be creative and engage students who might not get as much out of other activities. Students also benefit from being more involved in the planning process and having flexible goals that allow them to feel achievement in these lessons.

Have you ever used dance in your classroom? What are some of the ideas you used to keep students engaged in the process?

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  • Kara

    The past year I have really started to like dancing, note that I am 6'4 and uncoordinated when it comes to dancing. I definitely will use dance in my classroom and this blog post helps and gives me lots of ideas to use when I do become a teacher.

  • Jackson Dickerson

    Incorporating dance into the physical education classroom can be great. Allowing students to express themselves through dance can be motivating for students who may not see a purpose in a physical education classroom.