Locomotor Patterns – Lesson Plan

Through a nursery rhyme and folk dance, students explore origins of food. Students perform dances based on a pattern and create a dance using the same pattern.

  • Length: 5 30-minute lessons
  • Grades: K-2


  • Students understand and apply locomotor and non-locomotor movement in performing and creating dances.
  • Students recognize the elements that plants need for growth and the need that humans have for plants.
  • Students recognize historical changes in bread consumption.

Resource Used:
“Weevily Wheat,” Program 3 in the KET-produced series Dancing Threads: Community Dances from Africa to Zuni. It is taught by Appalachian storyteller Anndrena Belcher.

Vocabulary, Materials, and Handouts

locomotor, non-locomotor, grain, barley, sow, harvest

Pine cones, day-old bread, types of grain, construction paper, glue sticks

Oats, Peas, Beans, and Barley Grow

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Instructional Strategies and Activities

Day 1

  1. Read Inch by Inch: The Garden Song by David Mallet.
    • What makes a garden grow?
    • What tools are needed?
    • How much is an inch? How much is a foot?
    • Why does a garden grow inch by inch and not foot by foot?
  2. Sing the song or ask the music teacher to teach the class the song. You may also find a recorded version.
  3. As a class, create a simple circle dance to this song. Move slowly around in a circle, holding hands while singing the chorus. This moving in a circle is locomotor movement. Now do a non-locomotor dance to the verses: Have students stand in one place while acting out the verses.

Day 2

  1. Provide samples of oats, peas, beans, and barley. Pass them around in clear plastic bags and discuss these questions:
    • How would you describe this?
    • How do people eat this?
    • Which of these foods do you eat?
  2. Sing the nursery rhyme “Oats, Peas, Beans, and Barley Grow.” (See the handout for the words.)
  3. Use locomotor and non-locomotor movement to create a dance. As on the previous day, use the locomotor movement of moving around in a circle, holding hands on the chorus. On the verses, have students do motions while standing in place. Depending on the class, this activity may take longer. Continue until the class can sing and do the movement.

Patterns in Dance
The dancing of the first two days’ lessons followed similar patterns. Locomotor movement in a circle dance was followed by non-locomotor movement with pantomime possibilities. Discuss how this pattern can be used to create new songs and new dances. This pattern can be used in the culminating activity.

Day 3

  1. Briefly demonstrate, explain, or review locomotor and non-locomotor movement in dance.
  2. Have students perform the dances from the previous days. After each dance, ask them to identify the locomotor and non-locomotor movements.
  3. Play a type of freeze dance. Set limits depending on the space available. If available, play music about gardening, such as the song from the previous day’s lesson. Students are to dance in 20-second intervals, using ideas from the garden. Ask for locomotor or non-locomotor movements before each segment. For instance, you might say “locomotor dance as a tractor” or “non-locomotor dance as a growing plant” before starting the music. Then stop the music after 20 seconds and have students “freeze” while you give the assignment for the next segment.

Day 4

  1. Discuss how Kentucky’s early settlers got their food, presenting it as a story. Here’s a suggestion:

    Life was very different for girls and boys in 1850. There were no televisions, CD players, DVD players, computers, or video games. People didn’t have electricity or drive cars. Water for cooking, cleaning, or drinking was outside in a well. Most people in Kentucky were farmers. They ate what they grew in their gardens. People did not pick up a burger at the drive-through. They made their own bread. People would use the oats, peas, beans, and barley that they grew in their gardens each summer for food all through the winter. Grains like oats and barley were very important to people. People ate bread every day. Oats and barley are called grains.

  2. Ask students what kinds of bread they eat every day. Talk about how bread provides us energy to move. Show different kinds of grain from seed and after harvest. You could obtain different kinds of grain from a local farm supply store.
  3. Direct students in making a collage of grain. Give each student a piece of construction paper and a glue stick. Distribute the grain by type, one at a time. Have students repeat the name of the grain and think of types of food that come from that grain. Students who are writing could incorporate the written name of the grain in their product.
  4. An option or addition to the grain collage might be a bird feeder. Have students bring in pinecones and different kinds of bread. Decorate the pinecones with bread. Tie a string and hang the feeder up outside. Discuss how wheat produces such a variety of bread.

Day 5

  1. Tell students that bread is so important, people dance about it. Ask students to discuss what they’ve learned about bread. Here are a few prompts:
    • What is wheat used for?
    • How is bread important to us today?
    • How was bread important to Kentucky settlers 200 years ago?
    • What is barley?
    • What does a plant need to grow?
    • What do farmers do in order to grow plants?
    • Show me an example of locomotor dancing.
    • What is locomotor dancing?
    • Show me an example of non-locomotor dancing.
  2. Tell students they’ll be watching a dance called “Weevily Wheat” that people began dancing more than 200 years ago and still dance today. “Weevily wheat” could mean that there are weevils (bugs) in your wheat. Discuss why this would be a problem. Watch the “Weevily Wheat” dance performance from Dancing Threads (you may choose to watch it once through and then review, using the pause button, for discussion). Analyze the dance as a class:
    • What kinds of movement do you see in this dance? (locomotor or non-locomotor)
    • What kinds of locomotor movements are part of this dance?
    • Why do you think this dance may have started?
    • Why was barley important to the people who did this dance?
  3. Have students consider what kind of bread is as important to them as barley and wheat were to people long ago. Either individually or collectively, ask students to create a dance based on a bread common and important in their lives. They could pick a common nursery tune and sing the name of the bread while doing motions (e.g., “I like to eat a tortilla” to the tune of “Mary Had a Little Lamb”). Before or after performing them, the students should describe their dances using these questions:
    • What is the dance called?
    • Why did you pick this bread?
    • What kinds of movements are in the dance? (locomotor or non-locomotor)
    • What is special about your dance?

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Applications Across the Curriculum


  • Provide a thinking exercise about patterns. Make a circle representing the first part of the dance, where children are moving in a circle, and separate dots in a circle representing non-locomotor movement in the circle. Put the symbols on the overhead and have students say what will come next. Add symbols one at a time to represent other dance formations. Form the symbols into a pattern with blanks and ask students to make predictions on what goes in the empty spaces based on the patterns. The patterns should include more symbols as students master this exercise.

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Performance Assessment

Performance Event: Students create and perform dances based on bread. Before or after performing the dance, students describe the dance.
Directions: Create a dance using locomotor and non-locomotor movements based on a kind of bread you eat. Be prepared to describe the dance.

Performance Scoring Guide

4 3 2 1 0
Student performs the dance with enthusiasm and discipline. Student explains the title and the dance. Student clearly explains locomotor and non-locomotor movements. Dance shows creativity and rehearsed effort. Student performs the dance with moderate enthusiasm and discipline. Student explains the title and the dance. Student generally explains locomotor and non-locomotor movements. Dance shows effort. Student performs the dance with moderate enthusiasm. Student explains the title and the dance. Dance shows effort. Student performs the dance. Dance shows effort. Student does not participate.

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