Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Wonderful Welcome: A Program for Children Grades K-1

Activity 3: Barn Dance To "Sing When The Spirit Says Sing"

Activity time: 10 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Optional: Recorded music and appropriate music player

Preparation for Activity

  • Decide whether you or a volunteer will lead the song, "Sing When the Spirit Says Sing."
  • Optional: Choose a recording of upbeat, American folk dance music with a bluegrass or barn dance flavor. This dance can also be done to " London Bridge is Falling Down."

Description of Activity

If the children do not know "Sing When the Spirit Says Sing," teach the song before introducing the dance.

Tell the children:

This song began as an African American spiritual. It is about spirit and sharing spirit together, so it is a good one to share to celebrate our community.

Teach the first verse of the song, then tell the group you will change the word "sing" to other actions, such as "shout" or "wiggle." Explain that as they sing, they will dance and move to the words. When the song says shout, they can shout! Lead the group in singing a few verses until they know the song, inviting the children to move with spirit to the action words. Be sure to move, too!

You've got to sing when your spirit says sing,

You've got to sing when your spirit says sing.

When your spirit says sing, you've got to sing, sing, sing.

You've got to sing when your spirit says sing.

You've got to shout when your spirit says shout...
... When your spirit says shout, you've got to shout right out loud...

You've got to wiggle when your spirit says wiggle...
... When your spirit says wiggle, wiggle like a worm...

You've got to shake when your spirit says shake...
... When your spirit says shake, you've got to shake like a snake...

You've got to dance when your spirit says dance...
... When your spirit says dance, you've got to dance, dance, dance...

You've got to sneeze (laugh, clap, move... ), when your spirit says sneeze (laugh, clap, move... )...
... When your spirit says sneeze (laugh, clap, move... ), you've got to sneeze (laugh, clap, move... ) right along...

To add a traditional dance, have the children form two rows facing each other. If you have an odd number of participants, a co-leader should join a line so all dancers are paired. Tell the children they will do a simple folk dance, found in many European cultures. Explain:

  • The two children at the end of each line join hands and dance down the column formed between the two lines.
  • At the end of the line, they lift their joined hands to make an arch.
  • One pair at a time, the others join hands with their partners and dance along the column and through the arch. When they come through the arch, they part, turn away from each other, and each go back to the end of their line.
  • After all the children have passed through the arch, the first pair breaks the arch. Now the new pair at the ends of the lines dance along the column together to form a new arch for the others to pass through.

Continue the music until every pair of children has made an arch.

Including All Participants

Children with limited mobility can participate in this dance. Make sure all children can move in the space you are using, and guide the group to adapt their dancing to accommodate everyone's pace and way of moving.