Dancing With Scarves Lesson Plan Template And Example

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Are you struggling to plan out exactly how to teach a scarf movement activity? 

Do you want some concrete examples to help you out?

When I first started using scarves, it took me a while before I felt like I had all the steps I needed to teach this type of lesson effectively. Once I did, I created a dancing with scarves lesson plan. 

A lesson plan for dancing with scarves should involve teaching the movement without scarves, setting up behavior expectations ahead of time, adding scarves, challenging their movement potential, and providing feedback. 

Look ahead for discussion, sample lesson plan, and a few scarf activities you may want to try. 

Parts Of A Scarf Lesson Plan

In this section, I’ll talk about the parts of my scarf lesson plan. These parts serve specific purposes and need to contain certain elements which I’ll discuss in brief below.

Check out more tricks to using scarves in music class.  

Set Up Procedures

No good can come from just having kids go crazy flailing scarves around. The students need to know what is expected and allowed with scarves. 

Unless someone has used scarves and set up procedures recently, you’ll need to review them, even if you’ve played with scarves before with this group of students. For me, it works the easiest just to have them echo my expectations in the form of a promise: 

  • I promise
  • To move with purpose
  • With my hands to myself 
  • Keeping my voice silent
  • I may feel silly
  • And that’s OK
  • I will show the feeling of the music.
  • I promise 
  • To keep the scarf away from my face and the faces of my friends
  • To hold on to the scarf unless it’s a special ending
  • I’ll use the scarf as a way to show the movement of the music
  • To treat the scarf with respect
  • Or I lose my turn
  • And at the end
  • I will pack it away like Mr. V says. 

Model Procedures

When teaching the actual movement activity, it helps to model the examples of what you’re looking for instead of just explaining it. Some kids need to see it spelled out for them. 

Here are the steps I follow: 

  • Briefly explain the activity
  • Model it yourself
  • Select 1-3 students to model
  • Select 5-7 students to model
  • Let the whole class try the activity
  • Play the activity

At each stage of the steps, I give specific feedback on what the group is doing that I like to see when playing this movement game. 

With some classes, you may move through the steps quickly. Others need the whole procedure explained every time.

Pro-tip: If a class is having a hard time behaving and showing what I want in the activity, I back up the modeling steps by looking for a small group to demonstrate.  

Activity Stage 1: No Scarves

After we’re set up for success (the above two portions may take between 2-5 minutes), we play the movement activity first without scarves. Yes, I will use music at this point. 

During this stage, I always provide specific feedback to kids who are doing exactly what I’m looking for. 

Examples of feedback include: 

  • I like how Jimmy is covering high, middle, and low. 
  • Sarah is really matching the tempo (or speed) of the music. 
  • I can see why Carol is moving like that. The feeling of the music is just like it. 

Note: If this is the second time or beyond we’ve played the scarf activity, I’ll often skip this step to go straight to stage 2. But I never fully skip the procedure and modeling steps (although I will make them shorter). 

Activity Stage 2: With Scarves

Once the students show the movement without scarves, it’s time to add them. I usually briefly go over the expectations for scarves, and then we repeat the moves with scarves. 

I save scarf-tossing until the end of the piece as a reward for good behavior. 


During the reflection and closure, your two main goals are this: 

  • Get the scarves put away in one piece without the kids going crazy
  • Have students reflect on the music the moved to in some way

For the first point, I usually have students fold the scarves up as best they can, then I call groups by scarf color to put them back and have a seat. 

For the second point, I try to vary how we reflect. It can be done with others or individually and through discussion, writing, or drawing. 

It’s usually during this time I give a brief synopsis of the piece and composer. 

Some of my favorite reflection activities include:

  • Share two words describing the piece with the people around you
  • Fill out a notecard with 3 words describing feeling, tempo, and dynamics of the piece
  • All students come write one word about the piece on the board
  • Students draw a picture of what they think the piece could represent

Then, I transitioned us into another part of our lesson.

Here is a word doc using the template I described above. It’s nothing visually special, but here is the download link if you want it. 

An example of an activity with the lesson plan is below.  

Dancing With Scarves Lesson Plans Example – Paint The Room

While you could build an entire lesson on a scarf movement activity, it usually works better as a chunk of your overall lesson. 

I usually put a creative movement activity with scarves during the middle of my time as a way to move and refresh the students’ focus. 

Here is a typical procedure for a dancing with scarves lesson plan based on the activity, “Paint The Room.” 

This movement prompt can be done with any grade level, but I believe 2nd-3rd may be the most effective. 

They’re young enough to want to do movement like this, and old enough to have movement experience to pull upon. 

Set Up ProceduresStudents repeat the rules for creative movement time.

“I promise…”
To move with purpose
With my hands to myself
Keeping my voice silent
I may feel silly
And that’s OK
I will show the feeling of the music.
A movement poster with the rules would be a nice addition.
Model ProcedureDescribe the activity briefly for the kids.

Alright class, today I thought my room could use a little sprucing up.
I need your help.
When the music starts, please hold your invisible paint brushes and move around the room painting every surface.
Paint at all levels: high, middle, and low.
Change the levels up as you go.
Above all, follow the tempo and feeling of the music.
Model movements yourself as you speak.

Ask for 1-3 volunteers to model the movement. Point out what they’re doing correctly.

Ask for 5-7 volunteers to model in a small group.

Ask for the whole class to demonstrate the movement without music. Give feedback as needed.
Playing The Game In Two Stages: Stage 1Stage 1: No scarves
Do the movement without scarves for a couple of minutes.
Make sure to praise students moving expressively and redirect those not following directions.
Then, pause the music.
Music For Movement
Gymnopedie No. 1 by Erik Satie

Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven

Prelude No. 1 by J.S. Bach

Aquarium by Saint-Saens
Playing The Game In Two Stages: Stage 2Stage 2: With Scarves
Hand out scarves while reviewing rules for scarves.
Play the movement with scarves.
Use a toss at the end as a reward for expressive movement and rule-following.
Reflection/ClosureCollect scarves in the manner of your preference.
Pair students up to think-pair-share 3 words they would use to describe the music and their movement.
Have them write the words down.
Monitor and ask follow-up questions.
Create a word cloud of the words students used to describe the movement and the piece.
Index cards
Word cloud generating program


I hope you found this dancing with scarves lesson plan helpful. Scarves are a fun way to encourage expression through movement and music. 

Do you have any special tricks for using scarves? Let us know in the comments below. 

Zach VanderGraaff

Zach VanderGraaff is a K-5 music teacher with Bay City Public Schools in Michigan. He's a Past-President of the Michigan Kodaly Educators and Executive Secretary of the Midwest Kodaly Music Educators Association.

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