If you are a parent of a small child, or a teacher who is looking to incorporate age-appropriate movement into the classroom, this DVD may be for you. Up Down & All Around is a movement and exercise program that was designed by Stacey Pepper Schwartz, a dance professional, and a mom. The video is well-produced and features some fun, live music by Steve Blunt to go along with the exercises. Blunt’s “Macaroni & Cheese” song was one of my favorites…
Although you can do this DVD together in the living room, you may want to make a bit of space, as swinging arms and legs may get a bit enthusiastic for smaller homes. Parents and teachers will find that the video can be done over and over again, as some of the concepts are challenging. This is a good thing though, it keeps the sections from being too easy or too boring. The warm-up will give you an idea of what the DVD is all about, and give the kids a chance to get comfortable.
The “Name Game” section was excellent. This is a great tool for instructors to utilize at the beginning of the year, or for dance teachers to try out in class. It was fun, simple and effective. “Fast Feet” was next, and this one could be tough for younger kids, as it has jacks and switches, which can be complex to learn. Again, with repetition it would be terrific. Also, you can break down some of the steps prior to using the video and go through them slowly if need be.
Other sections include “Space Exploration,” which introduces kids to the idea of personal space, and “Across the Floor,” which incorporates big movements such as skipping. I thought that the “Cool Down Yoga” section was one of the highlights, and it saw Schwartz at her teaching best, with great descriptions and fun moves that were perfect for kids. Never short on enthusiasum, Schwartz was a positive force throughout the video, and you can tell that she really put her heart into the concept.
Teachers and parents alike can benefit from Schwartz’s expertise by utilizing the extra resources on the Website, such as the movement guide, which describes what skills are addressed in the video. Some of the things covered include balance, muscle control and directions in space. This to me is the true strength of the program–the fact that she ties everything together so that parents or teachers can get a good picture of what actual learning is going on. It can be exciting to see children progress from not having these skills to mastering them. Schwartz also explains how this type of activity can be connected to concepts in math and literacy. Truthfully, the program does as much to teach adults about how children learn and what they are capable of as it teaches the kids how to move.
To learn more about this DVD, or to purchase a copy, visit the website. There you can also get a look at the free online downloads that are available to go with it.