Feel welcome to press PLAY and rock out to this awesome song while you read about grade 3/4 dance and social studies and how those two subjects make quite the delightful combination.

About six weeks ago Sean, the grade 3/4 teacher at my elementary school, told me he had friends coming to visit in late November.  These particular friends of Sean’s used to lived in New York City.  Sean’s friends wanted to see what the day to day life in grade 3/4 was like and thus, New York Day was born.

New York Day became the hype of Sean’s grade 3/4 class and for five weeks every lesson we did in music and dance was in preparation for New York Day.  We talked about Broadway, listened to various songs from elementary school appropriate musicals and we made up a New York dance to Jay Z and Alicia Keys’ “Empire State of Mind”, complete with subway seats (desk chairs) and newspapers/magazines for reading.  For the final touches leading up to New York Day I took on the Broadway musical poster portion of the New York City brochure Sean and I co-constructed six weeks earlier.  Sean’s class and I talked at length about all things Broadway (tickets, seats, directors, musicians, dancers, costumes, etc.) and the students created their own Broadway musicals, ensuring that all the details for a typical Broadway show were included in their work.  See a few examples below:


After weeks of practice, New York Day finally arrived last Thursday! That morning on my way to my super early high school dance job the radio played “Empire State of Mind” (which I haven’t heard for years before Sean and I dreamed up New York Day) and I felt a flurry of excitement for the coming day. Yes, even I was excited about New York Day!

We all got to meet Sean’s New York City savvy friends and the students spent the entire day asking the former New Yorkers all kinds of questions about the Big Apple. Sean’s class spent some time on Google Earth mapping out the best breakfast spots and other iconic sights, but I must admit, the best part for me was witnessing those eight and nine year old students rise to the occasion when they presented their New York Day dance to our principal, vice-principal and the esteemed New York City guests. Every single student was at their best and not one missed a beat or talked out during the performance (a struggle for many!) Seeing these kids perform made my (dance) teacher heart soar.

New York Day ended up being a rather important epiphany for me, but I’ll talk more about that another time.  For now I will close with a generous THANKS to Sean, who had the initial idea and creativity behind this dance/social studies combination. I am totally looking forward to more cross curricular work with dance and music!