Partner Shapes

Children will explore shapes and movement with a partner.

Lesson Objective

Children will learn to work with partners making connecting shapes and following directions as they move through the dance space together.


What You'll Need

  • Cut out geometric shapes: circle, square, rectangle, and triangle
  • Rubber spots (see Lesson Tips) or hoops – 1 per 2 children
  • Audio device – for playing music
  • Large space – enough for children to move safely without touching each other
  • Music – any movement music (see Lesson Tips for suggestions)

What To Do

Note: Before beginning the activity, assign each child a partner.

  1. Review with the children the important rules of dance lessons (see Lesson Tips).
  2. Have the children spread out, and remind them of the concept of self-space (see Vocabulary).
  3. Perform the steps of the warm-up:
    • Breathing – Take several deep breaths in and out slowly.
    • Touch –  Using gentle energy, tap/tickle your skin all over the body (arms, shoulders, belly, legs, etc.). Then, using stronger energy, squeeze all over your body to wake up your skin and senses.
    • Get Moving – Do several movements that will get the blood flowing. Some examples might be jumping, running in place with high knees, swinging arms or kicking legs, and jumping with legs crossed and then open.
  4. Display the shapes, and go over the names of the shapes with the children. Have small groups of children try to make each shape with their bodies; three children make a triangle, four children make a square, and so forth.
  5. Put students into pairs, and give each pair an assigned spot within the dance space.
  6. Tell the children that they will be making shapes by connecting body parts with their partner (see Guiding Student Inquiry). When the music starts, they will dance away from each other, and when the music stops, they will find their partner at their spot and make a new connecting shape.
  7. Tell the children to make a shape with their partner by connecting their hands (or feet, backs, shoulders, etc.).
  8. Play a music selection (see Lesson Tips).
  9. Have the children follow movement cues (gallop, tiptoe, hop, dancer’s choice) provided by the teacher to dance away from their partner when they hear the music.
  10. Stop the music. Partners meet on their spot and make a new connecting shape following the direction provided by the teacher. For instance, “Children, go back to your spot, and make a circle with your partner by connecting your hands.”
  11. Repeat the pattern several times, making several different shapes by connecting several different body parts (suggestions: make a triangle by connecting your feet, make a square by connecting your arms, etc.).
  12. Wrap up the session with some cool-down movements. This can be any kind of slow, calming movement (see Lesson Tips).

Guiding Student Inquiry

  • Show me a shape that you can make with your partner.
  • Describe what you did to make that shape.
  • Tell me how you know when to stop dancing and return to your partner.
  • Explain what to do when the music starts.

Explore, Extend & Integrate

  • Make Partner Bridges. Children will take turns with their partner making a bridge for one another to move under. One partner is the bridge, and one partner is the traveler. Encourage the children to explore various ways to be a bridge—standing, two hands and feet on the floor (facing either up or down), one hand and foot on the floor, or on hands and knees. Have the travelers explore various ways to move under the bridge—like an animal, robot, machine, and so forth.
  • Have children make new shapes in the block area by connecting two or more blocks together. Discuss how the shape changes as you stack two or more blocks together. Have the children try to make bridges with the blocks, and then explore what can go under or on top of the bridge.
  • Place a variety of different colored shape cutouts in the math center. Children can name the shapes and sort them by name or color. Use shape cutouts to assist with the transition from one activity to another. Show a shape, and have the children create the shape as they move between activities.

Check for Children’s Understanding

  • Could children make connecting shapes with their partners?
  • Could children move safely through the dance space to find their partner?
  • Could children follow movement cues?


Did You Know

Children are naturally motivated by movement. They engage in movement activities for the sheer pleasure of participating. Young children are curious and eager to learn about themselves and others. Creative movement fosters coordination, spatial awareness, self-understanding, and positive interactions with others. During this type of activity, children are learning about positive and appropriate emotional expression and self-control.

Movement through space requires children to follow directions and problem solve as they work out the moves. They will plan their moves, do them, and, if they sense a problem, form an idea of how to solve it, try out their solution, and then rework the solution. Children are learning and having fun as they go through this entire process. 

Vocabulary: Child-Friendly Definitions

  • partner – a person who shares in an activity with another person.
  • shape – the form of the outer surface or edge of an object.
  • connect – to join together.
  • body – all the physical parts that make up a person.
  • cue – anything done or said during an activity that is a signal for the participants to say or do something.
  • pattern – an arrangement of something that can be repeated again and again.

Lesson Tips

  • It is best to teach this lesson prior to the lesson, Dancing Shapes, also found on this website.
  • Rubber spots are 9” rubber discs used for marking places such as bases or positions in sports.
  •  Important rules of dance lessons:
    • Listen to the teacher; wait to move, and stop movement when the teacher tells you.
    • Keep your body safe while moving.
    • Stay in your own self-space.
  • Be sure to go over the routine with assistant teachers so that they are familiar with the steps before beginning the activity.
  • Musical selections can be found online. Search for Introduction and Royale March of the Lion by Camille Saint-Saëns (Warm Up), Fiesta! by Eric Chappelle (Connecting Shapes), Moon River by John Altman (Cool-Down), and Build the Bridge by Deee-Lite (Explore, Extend, and Integrate).


  • Stretch by Doreen Cronin
  • The Human Alphabet by Pilobolus
  • Shape Space by Cathryn Falwell
  • Kitchen Dance by Maurie J. Manning
  • Dance Away by George Shannon

Home School Resources

Home educators: use these printable lesson PDFs to teach this lesson to your home schoolers. They're available in English and Spanish.

Home/School Connections

Las Conexiones a la Casa

While we believe that the books and resources recommended may be of value to you, keep in mind that these are suggestions only and you must do your own due diligence to determine whether the materials are appropriate and suitable for your use. PNC has no sponsorship or endorsement agreement with the authors or publishers of the materials listed.

Content Provided By

Common Core State Standards Initiative – These lessons are aligned with the Common Core State Standards ("CCSS"). The CCSS provide a consistent, clear understanding of the concepts and skills children are expected to learn and guide teachers to provide their students with opportunities to gain these important skills and foundational knowledge [1]. Visit the CCSS