Not quite the foxtrot: Dancing games for toddlers
Your little mover may not be ready to memorize choreography, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start grooving at home. Dancing is a great way for toddlers to express themselves, as well as to engage in physical activity. Here are some fun dancing games to get those little bodies in motion.
- The Hokey Pokey: This classic song and dance is a big hit for young toddlers. Not only is it easy to follow, but it’s also a great learning tool that teaches about parts of the body as well as opposite sides. When they're dancing, Baby will also work on their motor skills as they balance putting that left foot in and out, then shaking it all about! They might need a little help from you to do some of the more complicated moves – like standing on one foot – but it’s a fun, silly way to build those physical skills.
- Freeze: A catchy song makes following the directions of this dance feel like a game for your toddler. Not only is this a great dance for encouraging Baby to follow directions (you call out when to stop and start), but it will also teach them to move in new ways, to have fun with music, and to control the way their body moves.
- If You’re Happy and You Know It: Hooray for this classic dancing game that incorporates fun dance moves with teaching about body parts, and encouraging language. Your toddler will have a ball clapping their hands, stomping those little feet, and trying to shout, “hooray!” as they follow your lead. This action song will also help Baby concentrate on sequencing.
- Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes: You know this one: eyes and ears and mouth and nose… with these lyrics, you’re teaching Baby several body parts while they wriggles around to the beat. Join them in the dance, and demonstrate by pointing out the body parts you’re singing about as you go. For an enhanced dancing performance? Bring out one of their favorite stuffed animals and ask them to point to where its head, shoulders, etc. are located.
The benefits of dance are vast, and getting your toddler moving early will help them grow in many ways. Following your lead will help them develop socially, and listening to the sequences will build their cognitive skills. As they focus on the movement, they will continue to develop coordination and balance. Now grab your partner and do-si-do!