Do your kids love making noise with their feet? Have they asked you to take tap dance classes or even just love tapping away up the grocery aisles as you shop?
These free and easy online tap dance classes for kids can be done in any hard soled shoe. I slowly and creatively take your child through various tap steps to ensure they experience success, because lets face it trying to isolate the muscles of the feet to create something that sounds like rythmical noise is hard!
Click here to go straight to a playlist on Youtube of dance classes by Move Dance Learn. Don’t forget to subscribe to get notifications as the library is growing every week!
How old should my child be to begin tap dance lessons?
Kids can start tap dance lessons from the time they can walk – but obviously, these lessons would have to be short and modified for them to retain their attention. From the ages of 5-6 children are more aware of their bodies and are able to follow directions for long periods of time so these are great ages to begin tap. You will find the older your child is 7-10 the better they will be able to isolate the muscles and joints in their feet and ankles, but sometimes starting too late in tap can also mean there is a steep learning curve and many children quit after a term because taming their feet to create crisp, clean beats and sounds is actually harder than they thought it would be. But once over that curve, tap can become a great hobby and fitness activity well into your child’s adult life and today brings so much joy to many adults who decide to take on the dance form later in life.
What are the benefits of learning to tap dance?
Because tap dance focuses on using the legs, it means your child will be doing a deep aerobic workout as they move these large muscle groups in their bodies. Tap dance also strengthens the ankle and feet muscles which can help them avoid ankle injuries, or at least create a strong foundation if they were to have one. Tap dance also focuses on musicality and creating rhythmical sounds with your feet similar to a musician. It is well documented how learning to play a musical instrument helps children develop their understandings of mathematical concepts and for children who are more inclined to be kinaesthetically intelligent just like in music a tap dance helps to develop mathematical concepts such as identifying patterns and nuances. Lastly, tap dance and making rythmical noise with your feet is just plain fun!
Breakdown of Tap Terms used in this lesson and helpful information:
What is a stamp in tap dance?
A stamp in tap dance is when you lift one foot off the floor and place it heavily with a flat foot back onto the floor making a stamping sound. Stamps can be done with or without weight. What this means is that you can stamp from one foot to the other transferring your weight from one leg to the other or you can just stamp one leg continually bringing it back up off the floor after making the stamping sound.
In this tutorial we do both stamps with and without weight and we focus on trying to control the muscles in our legs to create loud and soft stamps. Usually kids can easily show the difference between a loud and soft stamp, but it takes more control to gradually increase or decrease the volume.
What is a hit in tap dance?
When I was learning to tap dance we had to recite the following – a hit is a hitting movement of the foot on the floor. A hit can be done with the heel, ball or toe of the foot. This really isn’t all the helpful so I will explain what a hit is in more detail!
A hit in tap dance is when you lower an isolated section of your foot such as the ball, toe or heel and sharply tap the floor lift the foot or that part of the foot immediately away from the floor to create a crisp and sharp tap sound.
We focus on strengthening the muscles in our ankles during the second exercise of the tutorial where we focus on making tapping or hitting noises with our feet in as many different ways as we can.
What is a brush in tap dance?
A brush in tap dance is when you tap the ball of the foot on the floor away or towards the body in a swinging motion. Little children begin learning to do a brush by swinging their foot from the knee joint. As a tap dancer becomes more experienced they learn to do this brushing action directly from the ankle and use the knee to help pick up the foot from the floor rather than make the brushing movement.
What is a forward slap or forward flap?
A forward slap or flap in tap dance is when you do a forward brush or hit with one foot and then step transferring your weight onto the ball of that same foot. They can also be done backwards.
What is a drop in tap dance?
A drop in tap dance is similar to a hit, except you do not lift the foot off the floor after the hitting sound, rather you leave the part that hit the floor in contact with the floor. You will see why this can be handy in the next step I describe which we do during the travelling section of the tap tutorial.
What is a Ball Heel (or Ball Heel Drop) in tap dance?
A ball heel or ball heel drop, in tap dance, is usually a travelling step where you lift one foot off the floor and drop your flat part of the ball of your foot onto the floor on the first count and then drop your heel of the same foot to the floor on the second count. Your would normally repeat this sequence with the other foot. You can do a ball, heel on the spot, but it is a good moving and traveling step especially for beginning tap dancers. Experienced dancers may incorporate ball heels into turns that travel from one side of the stage to the other.
LINKS TO THE SCHOOL CURRICULUM
Having been a teacher in Australia with a Bachelor of Education (Primary), I am always looking at ways to creatively teach children and regularly used dance and movement in my classroom to enforce learning of concepts and material we were learning about in different areas of the school curriculum.
The following are some links and connections that can be made from this creative dance lesson to other areas of learning!
Mathematics or Arithmetic
- Count forwards or backward as you do ball, heels, or walking on the balls of your feet, doing hits or stamps or any other tap step or exercise.
- Count how long you can balance on one leg. To make it harder balance on the ball of the foot (raise your heel)
- Measure your height when on flat feet and on the balls of your feet and work out the difference.
- Use a tap shoe or hard-soled shoe to measure objects around the house – which ones are shorter or longer than your shoe?
- Collect Data and make graphs about tap and dance – ask your family if they like tap dance, ever took a class, have seen a tap dance performance, or know any tap steps and tally, graph or chart their answers. Analyze and make statements about your results.
- Read a book about dance that encourages numeracy and counting – you can find some in this article on Dance Parent 101
English and Literacy
- Create your own tap or dance alphabet book – you could take photos of your child doing the movements to include in the book with the letters for example H is for Hit or S is for Stamp.
- Use Tap and dance terminology in a spelling list.
- Create handwriting tasks using tap and dance terminology.
- Create a list of adjectives to describe how we move our bodies in tap – sharp, strong, rhythmical
- Create a list of verbs to describe how we move in tap- strike, hit, slap, loud, soft, etc…
- Write or tell a Recount about doing your online tap lesson or another dance class you have taken.
- Write a narrative or fictional story about tap or dance.
- Research and then write a report about the history of tap or a famous tap dancer.
- Write an argumentative or persuasive essay to convince others about the benefits of tap dance and why they should start taking lessons.
- Read stories about dance and tap dancing.
- Learn the names of the different body parts we use doing various steps in tap dance especially those in the foot and ankle.
- Study the muscles, joints, ligaments etc… and how they move when we dance.
- Explore and learn about the best ways to strenghen and stretch the human body.
- Investigate forces such as push and pull and how these forces affect how our bodies move when we dance.
- Study the laws of force and friction and how these relate to making sound in tap dance.
- Explore different tap syllabuses and ways of learning and teaching tap dance.
- Study the history of tap and dance.
- Investigate maps and locations in relation to the history of tap dance or where major tap dance companies, schools, and theatres are located around the world.
- Learn about the history of dance in different cultures.
Art and Craft
For some great Dance based craft ideas head to my article on Dance Parent 101
Picture books are a wonderful way to add novelty, joy, and creative expression in your dance class! You can use a picture book to connect to a dance concept, to inspire improvisation or dance making,...
Whether you are a school teacher needing exciting and engaging ways to begin a dance class, a parent wanting to play some fun dance games at your kid's next birthday party, or a homeschooling mom...