Lesson Overview

Estimated Time:  80 minutes
Subject/Course Code/Title/Curriculum Policy:  Grade 7 - 10 Dance

Connections to Financial Literacy

Grade 7 Dance

A2. Reflecting, Responding, Analysing

  • A2.1: construct personal interpretations of the messages in their own and others’ dance pieces, including messages about issues relevant to their community and/or the world (e.g., dance pieces on topics such as … poverty, … homelessness), and communicate their responses in a variety of ways (e.g., through writing, class discussion, oral reports, song, drama, visual art)
Grade 8 Dance

A1. Creating and Presenting

  • A1.2: use dance as a language to communicate messages about themes of social justice and/or environmental health (e.g., possible solutions to … poverty, … homelessness, …oppression, ...)

A3. Exploring Forms and Cultural Contexts

  • A3.1: describe how social, political, and economic factors influenced the emergence and development of a dance form or genre of their choice (e.g., factors: funding to artists, the commercialization of dance, support for dance programs in schools; …)
    • Teacher prompts: “What social factors led to the emergence of this dance (e.g., hip hop, Celtic dance, the waltz)?” “Why do you think swing developed during the Depression in the 1930s (e.g., escapism)?”

Grade 9 Dance

Reflecting, Responding, and Analysing
B3. Connections Beyond the Classroom

  • B3.1: identify knowledge, skills, and personal qualities/attitudes they have acquired or strengthened through dance studies that can be applied in other settings and to a variety of careers (e.g., personal qualities such as willingness to take risks, discipline, cooperativeness, empathy, willingness to take responsibility)
    • Teacher prompt: “Is the behaviour expected of you in dance class the same as or different from your usual behaviour outside of class? What situations outside dance class might have behavioural expectations similar to those in the class?” “How can you use the learning gained through dance class to express thoughts and/or ideas about charitable organizations? How can you use this to promote or advertise for a charity?

Grade 10 Dance

Reflecting, Responding, and Analysing
B3. Connections Beyond the Classroom

  • B3.1: identify physical, intellectual, and artistic skills that are developed through dance and explain how they can be applied to a variety of careers (e.g., with a partner, research and report on possible summer volunteer or employment opportunities where their learning in dance could be helpful)
    • Teacher prompt: “What skills that you’ve learned in dance class are required for employment in any field?”

Curriculum Expectations

This lesson can be linked to various subject curriculum expectations depending on the grade level of the students, and the subject(s) being covered during a “Needs versus Wants” unit. Specific curriculum expectations for other subject areas will need to be identified by the individual teacher in accordance with the grade they are teaching.

Learning Goals

At the end of this lesson, students will know, understand and/or be able to…

  • use the Elements of Dance (body and space) to demonstrate compassionate awareness for the acts of giving and receiving
  • express status (classism) and social-bias through dance
  • express, through movement, the role, function, and purpose of charities
  • articulate the 1) value of contributing to charities and 2) what dollar amount or volunteer service one could contribute to charities using/incorporating key dance terminology

Instructional Components and Context


Students should have some previous experience with the elements of dance and should be able to use vocabulary associated with the elements of dance.  If students have no previous experience with the elements of dance, consider doing some work on the elements before beginning this unit. See "Take Five" or "Creating a Word Wall" activities from Think Literacy: Drama and Dance, or the “Dance - Elements Review” lesson posted on EduGAINS.

Some experience with positive and negative space would be an asset. Students should be comfortable working in small groups, presenting in front of the class, and receiving feedback from the teacher and/or peers.


Elements of Dance
Body: parts, moves, shapes
Space: formations, levels, pathways/directions
Positive space
Negative space
Open/closed position


Various contrasting colours of construction paper cut into  squares 10 cm X 10 cm
chairs (optional)
Information from Ontario Association of Food Banks website 
Chart paper
A variety of instrumental music
BLM #8 Examples for Positive and Negative Shapes Activity


Lesson Plan

Minds On (10 minutes)

Individual > Art Activity: Positive and Negative Shapes

Give each student one square of construction paper. Instruct students to fold the square in half once and cut a shape out of the center. They now have a positive and negative representation of a shape. Guide students to choose 2 more square of a contrasting colour (the same colour) and mount the positive and negative shapes to the contrasting squares. Refer to BLM #8 Examples for Positive and Negative Shapes Activity for an example of this activity.

Ask the class to reflect on the positive and negative shapes presented. Prompts: How is line used to create two images: the positive one and a negative one? If you were to assign positive space to the acts of either giving or receiving, which one would it be and why?

Put these cards aside until the consolidation portion of this lesson.


Connections:   Use the Elements of Dance anchor chart (see CODE Lesson: Cyber Bullying.ca BLM #11) as a coaching tool and assessment guide. Post anchor chart in a prominent area of the room for the students to use as reference. Have students generate key vocabulary terms to describe body and space (e.g. bending, triangular, facing different directions, high/medium/low, meandering…). Post as an anchor chart.

Differentiation:  Pose the following question to the Naturalist Leaner: Find and bring in examples of positive and negative shapes/space in nature. Suggest the Musical Learner compose a small piece demonstrating positive and negative space.

Assessment for learning:  Listen to the comments about giving and receiving being made by students. Determine what level of thinking and understanding students have for personal well-being and for the role and function of charities.


Action! (50 minutes)

Small Group > Learning the Facts

Instruct students to sit in groups of 4. Provide each group with several facts about Ontario food banks from the Ontario Association of Food Banks website (Suggested resource: Research Studies -> A Gathering Storm document). Ask students to brainstorm why food banks exist in Ontario and what purpose/function they serve in the community. Ask students to record their thoughts onto chart paper. Prompts: What are charities? What is the charity: Ontario Association of Food Banks? How can it afford to do its work?

Whole Class > Walk the Line

Through a brief discussion, challenge students’ opinions about who uses food banks and why, and whether or not food banks are beneficial to our society? Prompts: Who uses food banks and why? Do food banks help or hinder people from being active members in our economic society? Could the money being given to food banks be directed to more long-term solutions?

Inform students that there is an imaginary line across the room. Ask students who strongly believe that food banks help people to be better economic participants in our society to stand on one end, and those who feel food banks hinder people’s ability to be active economic participants in our society to stand at the other end. Everyone else should stand somewhere along the line.

Key Questions for Discussion:

Some people believe Food Banks are necessary in our society in order to help those who are less fortunate. Other people believe that Food Banks are handouts which are used as ‘a crutch’ thus stopping those who are less fortunate from going out, seeking employment and being active members of our economic society. What do you think?  
Could money spent of foodbanks could be diverted into something that could provide aid and eventually help people become self-sustaining?
What would those projects look like at the community, national, and/or global level?

Fold the line so the two students with the most opposing views are partners, the next two students with the next opposing view are partners, and so on until everyone has a partner. Those in the middle of the line will most likely end up with a partner who has a similar view, and that is okay.

Pairs > Exploring Giving and Receiving through Body and Space

Inform students that this lesson will focus on the Elements of Dance: body and space. Ask each student to get a chair and to find personal space within the room. Using chairs as positive space, ask students to create various shapes around the chair to fill the negative space. Relate this movement activity back to the art activity. Alternatively, working in pairs, ask students to assign one person as A and the other person as B. Person A creates a shape, and person B creates a complimentary shape within person A’s negative space. Person A steps out. Person A then creates a complimentary shape within person B’s negative space. And so on.  This is an exploration activity, and does not have to be shared with the class.

Whole Class > Viewing Commercials

View the following Food Bank/Hunger commercials found on YouTube.
Kelowna Food Bank commercial - Ballerina
Greater Pittsburg Food Bank commercial 2007 - Embarrassed
Newly Poor Lining Up at Food Banks

Using the previous movement activity and commercials as a stimulus, prompt students to make the connection between the emotions and messages shared in the commercials with:

  1. feelings associated with giving (i.e. supporting a charity) and not giving (i.e. refusing to donate)
  2. open/closed body positions
  3. positive/negative space.

Now prompt them to make the connections between:

  1. feelings associated with receiving (i.e. accepting an offer) and not receiving (i.e. rejecting an offer)
  2. open/closed body positions
  3. positive/negative space

Ask students to work in their pairs to represent giving/not giving through the Elements of Dance: Body and Space. Provide students with a few minutes to complete this activity. This is another exploration activity, and does not necessarily need to be shared with the class.

Pairs > Expressing Giving and Receiving through Body and Space

Ask students to use the all the information and movement activities presented during the lesson to express, through movement, one of the following messages:

  1. why it is important to give to others and how it feels
  2. why it is important to be a gracious receiver and how it feels
  3. the perceived stigma and feelings associated with receiving from a charity
  4. the positive feelings associated with receiving assistance

Play 3 different selections of instrumental music (preferably of varying tempos) for the students to move and work with. After the class has had a chance to express themselves using the varieties of music, ask each pair to pick the piece of music that best reflects the message they are trying to convey.  Play each piece of music, and ask the pairs who chose that music to share their improvised movements with the class. Ask each pair to articulate the rationale for their musical choice in two sentences or less, and share with the class. Ask students in the audience to share two stars and a wish for the group(s) performing.

Whole Class > Back to Front

Divide the class into two lines, the lines should face opposite walls. The students in the lines should be looking at the back of the person in front of them. The lines will work independently of each other, but will complete this activity simultaneously.

The person at the back of the line will use some form of locomotor movement and pathway to move to the front of the line and strike a pose. The new person at the back of the line will now use their own form of locomotor movement to move to the front of the line and strike a pose that is complimentary to the first person. And so on... When creating a pose students should think about the theme of the lesson, creating contrasting levels, positive and negative space, body parts/moves/shapes. Music to work with should be pre-selected by the teacher. Inform students, that they will be using movement to experiment with expressing their ideas with their bodies. Provide sidecoaching to help students build their capacities before the next two activities, which will be assessed. (For further refernece see “Perpetual Motion” by Janice Pomer).

Large Groups > Wave

Divide the class into 3 or 4 large groups. Have one group line up shoulder-to-shoulder facing the audience. Inform the students that they will be doing a wave. When students drop off, they are to take on a repetitive movement reflects an idea from one of the commercials shown in today’s lesson. Music to work with should be pre-selected.  After each group performs, ask the audience to identify the commercial and/or part each performer was expressing.  Repeat this activity using various styles/genres of instrumental music.


Connections:  Have students create their own “No Hungry Children Commercial” (refer to Kelowna Food Bank commercial above) using dance forms other than ballet (e.g. jazz, hip hop, etc.).

Differentiation:  Ask the Mathematical/Logical Learner to compile a list of facts about local and provincial food banks. Suggest the Verbal Learner create an anchor chart to record thoughts, ideas, and movements presented.

Assessment as/of learning:  Have students share two stars and a wish at various points throughout the lesson. Use student-teacher conferencing and the BLM #3 Elements of Dance Checklist and/or BLM #6 Elements of Dance Summative Checklist to provide students with feedback.


Consolidation (20 minutes)

Whole Class > Discussion

Ask the students why dance could be a powerful tool for communicating messages and raising awareness.  Encourage students to make the connection between the emotion of dance and its power to move people.
Prompts: How can dance be used to support charitable organizations? How could you use your knowledge and learning of dance to help a charity raise awareness and/or money?

Individual > Positive and Negative Shapes Advocacy

Students should be directed to retrieve their positive and negative shape cards from the Minds On part of the lesson. Instruct students to write a slogan to entice others to give to a charity on the front of the positive shape card. On the back, students should write a response to ‘why they feel it is important to give to charities’. Instruct students to write a positive message to themselves as a reminder for how to accept/receive a gift graciously.

Display cards around the classroom.


Connections:  Working in groups, ask students to recreate their favourite commercial presented in class using only movement (no words). Students engage in self reflection about their views on 1) the value of charities, 2) giving to charities, and 3) what it might feel like to receive from a charity.

Differentiation:  Suggest the Interpersonal Learner take an active role in a school-wide activity for charity. Invite the Intrapersonal Learner to give a talk about a specific charity, and the impact that charity has on a local or global scale.