Sunday, May 26, 2024

Rain Dance

by Mark Warner
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Ages: 5-11
Sarah Coraggio

Objective: Students will be exposed to and learn about Native American rhythm through traditional dance and music and playing a Native American game.

Materials: Traditional Native American Music, Native American Art, Pictures of rain or thunderstorms, a Game area with a hard floor surface.

Visual Resources: Pictures of rain or thunderstorms, Native American Art


  • The teacher makes the environment rich, including playing music and displaying art and theme pictures (rain).
  • Students are directed to sit in a big circle.
  • The teacher leads a discussion on Native American games. “Games, in the old days, often helped sharpen skills needed in adult life. Games were also just for fun. Games would reflect the environment the children lived in, as well as their culture.”
  • The teacher explains the game “Rain.” “It is a game played long ago on the Northwest coast. It rained a lot there, and one can imagine the children having to stay indoors and respond to nature outside. They made up a game, creating the sound of a rain storm using the wooden floor.”
  • The teacher asks what often comes before the rain. The wind often picks up. Have students make circular motions on the floor and it will sound like wind.
  • The teacher next elicits that what often comes next are the small drops of a rain shower. The sound is made with the fingertips striking the floor softly, then a little harder. A leader shows the students how long to have the wind build-up, and when to start the raindrops. The sounds should overlap.
  • The next sound is rain. This is made with all the fingers on each hand hitting quickly together.
  • The last new sound is a hard rain, made with the palm of each hand pounding very quickly.
  • The rest of the game is played in reverse order as the storm passes.
  • Variations can be added, such as a shower or two with the wind in between before the heavy rain hits.
  • Once students have mastered the basic steps, they should close their eyes and listen to how real it sounds. The whole game may then be played in a dark room.
  • Students can then dramatize what sort of rhythmic sounds stomping feet in a rain dance might have made. This can be done with or without music.
  • Another class can be invited in to listen to the effect and share in the fun!

Assessment: Informal assessment done through questioning about the Native American cultural concepts being taught and observing participation and cooperation.

The following idea was contributed by Zoe Corbett:

To enrich the Rain dance idea… To make the sounds of the storm, you can:

  1. Tap two fingers on the palm of your other hand.
  2. Click fingers.
  3. Clap hands on thighs.
  4. Stamp feet.

Repeat in reverse order for storm passing.

These actions are performed in a circle, starting with the teacher, and going round the circle one by one. A new action is introduced when everyone is performing the first. The children keep the previous action going until the new one reaches them around the circle. This gives the effect of the storm building and declining gradually. It is extremely effective and gripping!

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