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Maypole Dances Lesson

Subject: Music, cross-curricular with PE


- Students will understand the cultural significance of Maypole dances.

- Students will demonstrate basic Maypole dance steps.

- Students will collaborate with peers to perform a Maypole dance.

- Students will identify musical elements in Maypole dance music, demonstrating an understanding of rhythm and form.

Materials Needed:

- Maypole with ribbons

- Recorded Maypole dance music

- Markers or cones to mark positions around the Maypole

- Teaching aids (images, videos) depicting Maypole dances and their cultural significance

Florida Standards:

- MU.3.F.3.1 Collaborate with others to create a musical presentation and acknowledge individual contributions as an integral part of the whole.

- MU.3.H.3.1 Experience and discuss, using correct music and other relevant content-area vocabulary, similarities in the use of pattern, line, and form in music and other teacher-selected contexts.

- MU.4.H.1.3 Identify pieces of music that originated from cultures other than one's own.

- MU.5.H.1.3 Compare stylistic and musical features in works originating from different cultures.


1. Introduction (10 minutes):

   - Gather students in a circle and introduce the concept of Maypole dances.

   - Discuss the cultural origins of Maypole dances, emphasizing its history in various cultures such as English, German, and Scandinavian traditions.

   - Show visual aids depicting Maypole dances and their significance.

   - Introduce the musical aspect of Maypole dances and how rhythm and form play a role.

2. Demonstration of Maypole Dance (10 minutes):

   - Set up the Maypole in the center of the dance area.

   - Model holding the ribbon with two hands, which allows one hand to stay at waist height and the other hand raise the ribbon over the dancer's head, creating a tent effect when done together in the circle.

   - Demonstrate the basic steps of a Maypole dance: circling to the left/right, moving into the middle and back out, dos-a-do around a partner (this wraps the ribbons together and has to be unwrapped as a part of the dance), and weaving ribbons around the Maypole.

3. Group Practice (15 minutes):

   - Practice the dance as a group, focusing on synchronization and teamwork.

   - Encourage students to listen to the music and identify the beat and rhythm as they dance.

5. Full Maypole Dance (5 minutes):

   - Once students are comfortable with their roles and the dance steps, play the Maypole dance music and guide them through a full rehearsal of the dance.

6. Reflection and Discussion (5 minutes):

   - Lead a brief discussion on the experience of learning and performing the Maypole dance.

   - Ask students to share what they enjoyed about the activity and what they found challenging.

   - Connect the musical elements they observed during the dance to the Florida music standards discussed earlier.


- Informal assessment will be conducted throughout the lesson, observing students' participation, coordination, and ability to work together in groups.

- Students' understanding of the musical elements in Maypole dance music can be assessed through their ability to identify beat, rhythm, and form during the reflection and discussion.


- Encourage students to research Maypole dances further, exploring their cultural variations and significance in different parts of the world.

- Organize a May Day celebration where students can perform the Maypole dance for their peers, teachers, and families, incorporating their understanding of the musical elements.

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