Thursday, March 13, 2008

Hey Mr. DJ! Dancing Activity for the Special Education Classroom.

I learned this activity in my music therapy internship, but I do not know where the original idea came from. We called it, "Disco Nerf!" This group activity can be done in a variety of special education settings or even at home as a family. I think it works especially well for junior high and high school groups. Dancing is an age appropriate activity, but these kids don't usually get to attend the regular school dances and parties.


- Nerf Ball
- CD player (remote control makes things easier)


- Whoever has the ball when the music stops has to make up a dance move.
- Whenever you get the ball you have to do your dance move if you have made one up.
- If you get the ball a third time when the music stops, then you become the DJ!
- Everyone starts over with no dance moves when there is a new DJ.


Form a circle making sure that there are teachers or peer facilitators at strategic locations in the circle to assist students with disabilities. (Remain sitting in chairs to add more structure to the activity if there are students who get too excited or lack focus of attention skills.) Select a person to be the first DJ and have them control the pause button on the CD player. The DJ should be facing away from the group so that he or she cannot see where the ball is. The DJ starts the music and the group quickly passes the ball in a circle like it is a "hot potato." The DJ randomly stops the music and waits for the person with the ball to make up a dance move. The dance moves should be kept simple and the dancer should be able to do the move while holding the ball. Request the DJ to restart the music and continue passing the ball. If a person who has made up a dance move gets the ball while the music is going, he or she should do their dance move before passing the ball to the next person. Prior to starting, you should determine if dancers will have to make up two different dance moves if the music stops while they have the ball on two different occasions. (Sometimes I just have them do one dance move depending on how well they can remember.) Once a person has the ball a third time when the music stops, they become the DJ and everyone starts over without any dance moves. The ball just moves quickly as a "hot potato!"

Applications, goals and objectives:

This activity can easily be used to collect data on objectives. It is also an easy way to have peer assistants partner with students who have disabilities. Many students with cerebral palsy or other disabilities will need help to hold and pass the ball, but in my experience they always love the activity!

Here are some suggested goals to observe:

- Following one and two-step directions.
- Gross motor movement.
- Peer interaction.
- Focus of attention.
- Sequencing skills.

Now go and, "Shake your booty!"

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