The holiday season is a great time of year to break out fun, inventive and interactive lesson plans with your little ones! Always a crowd pleaser with my own students, "TOP HAT" is a dance activity I designed for 3-7 year olds that will engage the senses, incorporate visual focus and enhance locomotor movement it's super fun!

Below you will find the lesson plan as well as expected learning outcomes, materials and development progressions and adaptations! Feel free to add a holiday twist on your "class hat"  as well this time of year! Have Fun everyone! Enjoy!


.One imaginatively decorated top hat created by teacher and students in the beginning of the year. This will be the class’ special and magic top hat! It can be as regal or silly and wacky as the students’ imagination and crafts supply allows!

.Plastic Top Hat

.Crafts for Top Hat

.Suggested Music: Top Hat, White Tie and Tails or Puttin on the Ritz from the movie Top Hat (or any lively musical theater selection)


.Visual focus


.Picking up and executing choreography

.Aesthetic development

.Locomotor and non locomotor movements

.Creating choreography

.Social interaction and cooperation

.Leadership skills

.Spatial awareness


Children begin in a circle sitting with the teacher


The teacher walks over to the group wearing the class’ special top hat and explains to the students that the person wearing this hat at any point in time is the master of ceremonies at our party. They are also the creator of all movement! The rest of the class must watch, follow and copy the movements. The teacher should then demonstrate in the center of the fishbowl and see if the kids can perform the activity! This should be followed with another demonstration by a volunteer or student who is being particularly well behaved. The chosen student gives an example of a movement he/she might choose. Now, students and teacher follow along. (Integration of music at this point is up to teacher discretion or they may opt to wait until class commences actual activity as a group.) The teacher should make comments here with positive feedback supporting excellent ideas, nice choreographic risk taking, interesting levels, etc.


Once the basic directions seem clear to students, the teacher should go on to explain that music will be accompanying the group. When the class hears the music stop, they ALL must freeze in a shape and the master of ceremonies must pass along the hat to their next chosen leader by placing it on their head. (*Teacher should give students guidelines that for each class 4 or 5 leaders will be chosen for the day.  A list of names of those who have had a turn should be kept on a large piece of paper on the wall.  Students can then see who needs to play leader in the coming weeks! Remind students that everyone will get a chance to be leader)

Encourage top hat leaders to give movement that contains levels, dynamics, direction changes, varying efforts, use of space, etc. (Teacher may opt to give a quick demo) Remind them that all movement is creative and to take chances! There are no wrong answers! The teacher who will also play DJ may opt to let the leaders come up with one or two movements to be followed before stopping the music and change of leader occurs. Teacher should comment on interesting and wonderful things they are seeing and reinforce safety practices while urging students to use the entire space of the room. Teacher should also check in on whether appropriate movement is being given and/or if leader gets stuck and needs a little prompting!


The teacher announces to everyone to now find a space in the room and take a frozen shape. The teacher can either keep the volunteer from the fishbowl demo to be the first leader or can walk around the room and choose another well behaved student by placing the hat on their head.   The teacher should remind the leader that when they hear the music begin they can start their dance whenever THEY choose. When the music STOPS, all dancers are to freeze and the leader must pass the hat and resume following the new leader with the remaining students once the music begins again.   During exercise, teacher should be giving feedback and positive encouragement as well.


 Announce when the class is on their last leader for the day. When the activity is nearing a close, direct students to gradually slow down, find a space in the room and find their own ending shape to freeze in until the music fades out.  After the exercise is over, the teacher can ask the students to verbalize things they observed, liked, etc. during the exercise!


.Each week 4 or 5 students get the chance to be leaders. (Names of those who have gotten a turn should be written on a large piece of paper on the wall so students are aware of who is up for a turn and who has gone already.)

.As students become more advanced, remove the stopping of the music and have hat transfer occur as part of continuous, integrated choreography now taking place when the leader wants to pass it on.

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