Dance Me a Story: Developing Early Literacy Skills through Movement and Creative Dance

Photos: Erika Villarreal Bunce

At the age of 9, Lorna Park started her work with young children. Ms. Park is proudly still in early childhood care as an educator at House of Joy Child Care in Detroit. Using her body artfully is important to Ms. Park "Nurturing a love of learning is a priority to me. The arts help us to get where we need to be mentally, physically, and spiritually to receive experiences. Movement helps us to follow the child".

In partnership with Help Me Grow Michigan, Living Arts hosted two professional development workshops for early childhood educators at the Detroit PAL on Friday, February 15th and Saturday, February 16th. Seventy educators, including Ms. Park, attended the workshops over the course of both days. The workshops, lead by Master Teaching Artist Kimberli Boyd, provided educators with methods to incorporate movement and dance in their work around early literacy.

Using chants, songs, stories, and props, Boyd demonstrated developmentally appropriate strategies to support literacy skills in the early childhood classroom. Beyond literacy, these strategies support social and emotional growth, as well as whole body awareness and fine and gross motor skill function.

Young children are able to gain understanding of the world around them by learning how they move through the world. “I believe that the Arts are powerful enough to cause transformation, and that dance is empowering enough to move hearts, minds, and bodies — and to revolutionize learning,” said Ms. Boyd. Participants of the workshop received certification for their time.