Teaching ballet to kids requires different techniques for different ages. Younger children, ages three to five, respond well to story and prop teaching. Children ages six to ten learn moves quickly when given consistent instruction. Children ages 11 to 15 appreciate learning new steps to build into routines. Using a rhyme is an effective way to help children memorize the five basic ballet positions at any age, according to Gretchen W. Warren, author of "The Art of Teaching Ballet." Assess you students on the first day of class to determine their skill level, motivation and talent to help you structure your class accordingly.
Ages Three to Five
Place children in a circle and give them each a scarf. Instruct them to hold the scarf in their right hand, place their left hand on their hip and touch, or kiss, their feet together.
Become a fairy godmother and take your magic wand and sprinkle super-glue magic on every student's heels. Tell them that their heels are now magically glued together. Tap your magic wand on every student's toes and instruct them to open their feet to hold a piece of pie, singing, "Just like a piece of pie, this is first position, oh-my"!
Tell your students to bend at the waist and wave their magic scarves down over their toes and heels, sprinkling magic sliding dust on their toes. Instruct your students to raise back up and slide their right foot out to the right while singing, "Magic dust on my toes, slide into second there it goes"! Show them how to slide their right foot into second position as you sing this part of the rhyme.
Tip-toe around to each student and tap the middle of their left foot with your magic wand. Tell your students to pull their right heel to kiss their foot where you tapped it with your magic wand. Teach them to pull their right foot into the left into the third position while singing, "Flying back home like a baby bird, slide my heel to my foot into third."
Tell your students to switch their scarves to their left hand and bend forward and sprinkle some magic fairy dust on the floor in front of their feet. Instruct them to stand back upright and slide their right foot forward to the magic spot while singing, "Pushing my heel straight out, into fourth position no doubt."
Teach your students to pull their right heel back to kiss their left toes while they sing the last part of the rhyme, "Heel to toes, into fifth position here it goes."
Jump up and down and wiggle, having your students follow for a bit of free movement before continuing the position rhyme on the opposite foot.
- "The Art of Teaching Ballet: Ten Twentieth-Century Masters"; Gretchen W. Warren; 1999
- American Ballet Theatre: Pieds, Cinq Positions Des
- InsideBallet.com: Teaching Creative Movement
- "100 Lessons In Classical Ballet"; Vera S. Kostrovitskaya; 2004