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Arts Toolkit

Arts Toolkit: Dance Lesson Plan



Lesson Plan:

The Story of Wheat

Students learn the story of wheat as they explore its significance in the lives of pioneers and in their own lives.
  • Length: 4 30-minute lessons


  • Students understand how bread is made from wheat.
  • Students recognize differences between past and present daily life.
  • Students apply elements of dance to perform and create original dances.
  • Students experience different purposes of dance.

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.
Available on DVD from KET or online through KET EncycloMedia.
Length: 00:30:00


purposes of dance, recreational dance, shape, space, wheat, harvest, mill


TV/VCR or DVD player, video of and instructions for “Weavily Wheat” from Dancing Threads, classroom musical instruments


Instructional Strategies and Activities

What Is Space in Dance?

Space is the area in which you create a dance. Space includes direction, size, pathways, levels, and shapes.

Day 1

  1. Make cornmeal or barley pancakes to share with the class.

    • 1/2 cup whole wheat, barley flour, or cornmeal
    • 1-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    • 4 tsp. baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp. salt
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 cups milk
    • 4 Tbsp. cooking oil

    Mix dry ingredients. Stir in wet ingredients. Makes about 24 small pancakes.

  2. Discuss the types of grain ingredients used in the pancakes. Tell students that grain has long been important in people’s diets. Show students examples of different types of wheat from the CyberSpace Farm (

  3. Ask the class to think of what the pancake and the dance might have in common. Watch the dance “Weevily Wheat.” The two things they have in common is the circular shape and the wheat or barley.

  4. Talk about shape and the way circles are important in many social dances. If time allows, practice some social dances that use a circle, such as “The Hokey Pokey,” “The Farmer in the Dell,” and “Ring Around the Rosie.”

Day 2

  1. Play music and experiment with the shape of the circle in dance. Have students stand in a circle and hold hands. Give students various instructions to follow for eight counts each. Have students count aloud to 8 after each dance instruction.

    Some sample instructions:
    • Walk forward to make a smaller circle.
    • Step to the right to turn the circle. (Teacher should point.)
    • Step to the left to turn the circle the other way.
    • Walk backward.
    • Drop hands and spin around.

  2. Practice the dance until students can remember without your verbal instructions.

  3. Once the pattern is learned, allow students to take turns changing or adding elements to the routine to make new dances.

Day 3

  1. Tell the folktale of “The Little Red Hen.” (Choose a book from the library, or use the handout.) Discuss the steps necessary in making bread from wheat; e.g., planting, growing, harvesting, milling, mixing, and baking. Discuss how at one time many people went through these steps to get bread. Use the web resources listed in the Support section to show how grain is grown and harvested today.

  2. Use the handout “The Little Red Hen” to read as a class script. Have the students sit in a circle. Read the story through 2-3 times with different students playing the roles.

Day 4

  1. Discuss dance as a form of storytelling. Ask the students to consider how they could turn the story of the “Little Red Hen” into a dance.

  2. Read the script again. Discuss how motions and music could help tell the story. Talk about dancing for different purposes. Talk about the dance as a social or recreational dance.

  3. Using classroom instruments to keep a steady beat, direct students to create a rhythm that dancers can follow. Alternate selecting different students to play the roles in the story. The narrator’s part could still be read while the other parts are danced. Work toward creating an atmosphere where students respect others’ efforts and feel free to be expressive.


Support • Connections • Resources

  • From the CyberSpace Farm:Classes of Wheat
  • Wheat Mania! has history, activities, and trivia about wheat production in the U.S.
  • Crop Profile for Winter Wheat in Kentucky 


Applications Across the Curriculum

Social Studies

Study the history of pioneer farming.

Performance Assessment

Performance Event: Students create a dance to tell the story “The Little Red Hen.”

Directions: Use expression and movement to tell the story as cast in “The Little Red Hen.”

Performance Scoring Guide
4 3 2 1 0
Student shows creativity in expressing the story through dance. Movement is appropriate to the story. Student moves to the beat. Student is respectful of other students’ movements. Movement is appropriate to the story. Student moves to the beat. Student is respectful of other students’ movements. Movement is appropriate to the story. Student is respectful of other students’ movements. Student is respectful of other students’ movements. Student does not participate.


Academic Content

Academic Expectations:

  • 1.15: Students make sense of and communicate ideas with movement.
  • 2.22: Students create works of art and make presentations to convey a point of view.
  • 2.26: Through the arts and humanities, students recognize that although people are different, they share some common experiences and attitudes.

Program of Studies:

  • AH-P-SA-U-1: Students will understand that the elements of music, dance, and drama are intentionally applied in creating and performing.
  • AH-P-SA-S-Da1: Students will begin to recognize and identify elements of dance and basic dance forms using dance terminology.
  • AH-P-SA-S-Da2: Students will use the elements of dance in creating, copying, and performing patterns of movement independently and with others.
  • AH-P-PCA-U-1: Students will understand that the arts fulfill a variety of purposes in society.
  • AH-P-PCA-U-2: Students will understand that the arts have value and significance in daily life.
  • AH-P-PCA-S-Da1: Students will begin to develop an awareness of the purposes for which dance is created.
  • AH-P-PCA-S-Da2: Students will observe and perform dance created to fulfill a variety of specific purposes.
  • AH-P-PA-S-Da1: Students will be actively involved in creating and performing dance alone and with others.

Note: This lesson also can be used to address social studies standards.

Core Content for Assessment:

  • AH-EP-1.2.1: Students will observe dance/movement and describe elements and movements using dance terminology.
  • AH-EP-3.2.1: Students will experience dance created for a variety of purposes.
  • AH-EP-4.2.1: With a partner or in a small group, students will perform dances using the elements of dance and various movements.


Mary Henson


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