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Activity 1: Pairing Penguins

Activity time: 10 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • A small stone or pebble
  • Music CD and player

Preparation for Activity

  • Choose music for the group to dance to, and obtain a player that has a "pause" function.
  • If you decide to use tango music to reinforce this session's theme, be ready to describe or perhaps demonstrate a tango step; see "Leader Resources" for some helpful web links.

Description of Activity

Explain that you thought it would be fun to start off dancing today. This activity gives children a chance to play a dancing game in which they practice picking partners. Later, you can refer back to this activity to make connections between "dancing" and "Tango" and to help children understand how penguins use a pebble to express their desire to pair with another penguin.

Choose a leader randomly. You might choose the child with the closest birthday. Or think of a number between one and 20 and ask each child to guess the number; the leader is the one whose guess is closest. Everyone pairs up except for the leader.

Give the leader the pebble or stone. Explain the game with these or your own words:

When the music starts, everyone is invited to dance with their partners. You may dance until the leader chooses a partner. The leader will put the pebble on the floor, in front of the person they want to dance with. Then everyone has to stop dancing and choose new partners. One person will be left out. That person becomes the next leader, and gets to place the pebble to choose a partner next time.

Start the music and invite everyone to dance with their partners. You may need to walk the first leader through the action of placing the pebble in front of the partner he/she has chosen. Direct the children to stop dancing, and find new partners. Give the pebble to the one who is left out.

Repeat until everyone has been paired up or a reasonable length of time has passed.

If you used tango music, tell them the name and that there is a dance called the tango. You may say:

The tango is a popular dance for two partners to dance together in Spanish-speaking countries, and many other places. People hold contests to see which pair of tango dancers has the most grace and skill.

Because a tango dance is done by two partners together, there is a common phrase that says "It takes two to tango." What do you think that means?

In your own words, tell the children that "It takes two to tango" means when you are doing something together with one other person, you are partners just like two people dancing a tango. To do a good job together, you need to communicate well, care about each other's feelings, and try to make it easy for the partner to do their part. Both people share the responsibility to make something go well.

Ask the children to share some things they have done with a partner. Suggest the dancing they have just done. Help them come up with more ideas such as playing catch, riding on a see saw, being friends, being sisters/brothers, making a painting, or taking care of a pet.

Now ask if anyone knows of a connection between pebbles or stones and penguins. Some species of penguins pick out special pebbles or stones to present to the penguin with which they wish to partner. Tell the children that while they chose partners only for a short dance, penguins sometimes choose a partner for life. When a penguin accepts another penguin's pebble, the two become a new family.

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