Creating Pathways Through Movement

Children will explore different ways of moving from place to place.

Birds Nest

Lesson Objective

Children will explore the concept of pathways, using straight, curved, and zigzag pathways to move from place to place.


What You'll Need

Note: This is a movement activity that is great for transitions and is best taught prior to the lesson, All Aboard the Movement Train!

  • Large space – enough for children to move safely without touching each other
  • Music – any movement music (see Lesson Tips for suggestions)
  • Audio device – for playing music
  • Drum
  • Tape
  • Images of different pathways (straight, curved, zigzag—see Lesson Tips)

What To Do

Note: Before beginning the lesson, put tape on the floor to make pathways around the room. Include straight, curved, and zigzag paths.

  1. Begin a discussion about the word travel; ask children to share the places they have traveled, both in the community (like the grocery store) and outside the community.
  2. Tell them that traveling involves movement, and movement is a part of transportation. All vehicles such as cars, trucks, boats, airplanes, and buses move. Our bodies move too, and movement is part of dancing. When we dance, we can move our bodies from place to place as we move along a pathway.
  3. Show pictures of the different pathways and discuss.
  4. Have the children trace a straight pathway in the air using a finger. Have them try drawing the pathway using their arm, shoulder, nose, and toes. Repeat with curved and zigzag pathways. Tell them that they will be moving through pathways around the room using different movements.
  5. Discuss the important rules of dance lessons (see Lesson Tips), and have the children stand up to perform the steps of the warm-up:
    1. Breathing – Take several deep breaths in, and make a train whistle sound while breathing out slowly.
    2. Touch – Pretend the fingers are cars moving at different speeds and pathways along the body.
    3. Get Moving – Do several movements that will get the blood flowing:
      • Stretch “airplane wings” (arms and legs) wide, and then bring them in for a landing (curl into a ball).
      • Hide the head, and then peek out to look for school bus, train, etc.; repeat.
      • Bicycle legs – laying on the back, move legs as if riding a bicycle. Then, keeping the lower body still, move the arms as if rowing a boat.
      • Pretend to open and shut the door of a car or bus as you open one side of the body and then the other. Airplane zoom – while sitting or standing with arms and legs wide, twist and zoom opposite hand to foot.
      • Imagine you are in a car zooming around and around while you turn. Then, the brakes make you stop before going in the other direction.
  6. Choose a locomotor movement, such as tiptoe, gallop. skip, march, etc., and demonstrate how to move along the pathways doing that movement.
  7. Play some music, and keep time using a drum; have the children follow the pathways.
  8. Have the children repeat moving through the pathways using different movements.

Guiding Student Inquiry

  • Explain the word pathway: How do different vehicles create different pathways?
  • Tell me some places you have traveled to in the community.
  • Tell me some places you have traveled to outside the community.
  • Describe different pathways you use when moving from place to place.

Explore, Extend & Integrate

  • Have the children move through the pathways using a side slide. Moving sideways requires more control and attention to the body and the space. Have children work with partners to follow the straight pathway using a side slide. Have children circle in a curved pathway around and around.
  • Take the children outside, and place hoops in straight, curved, and zigzag pathways. Have the children hop the pathways like a frog, kangaroo, or rabbit.
  • For fine motor practice, draw straight, curved, and zigzag lines on a piece of paper. Mark the end of each line with a sticker. Have the children use scissors to cut along the lines until they reach the sticker.

Check for Children’s Understanding

  • Could children explain a pathway and how different vehicles create different pathways?
  • Could children name the places they have traveled to in the community?
  • Could children name the places they have traveled to outside the community?
  • Could children describe pathways as straight, curved, or zigzag?


Did You Know?

A pathway is the trail a person, animal, or vehicle takes in getting from place to place. When referring to dancing, a floor pathway is the trail left by the dancer moving through the dance space. When dancing on a floor, the trail can be straight, curved, zigzag, diagonal, or any combination of these.

Pathways or trails used for transportation usually imply that they are unpaved. Pathways in nature can be for walking, hiking, bicycling, horseback riding, skiing, or other outdoor activities. Paved pathways are commonly referred to as “roads” or “highways.” These routes are commonly used by motorized vehicles. Other vehicles create different types of pathways. Airplanes create pathways in the sky, trains follow pathways created by the tracks, and boats create pathways in water.

Vocabulary: Child-Friendly Definitions

  • travel ­– to go from place to place.
  • pathway – a route or course.
  • trail – a path or course, usually through a forest or other rural place.
  • straight – without a curve or a bend.
  • curved – bending smoothly in one direction without any straight parts.
  • zigzag – a line or course that moves back and forth to form a series of sharp angles.

Lesson Tips

  • This is a great lesson to use for transitioning from one activity to another.
  • Musical selections can be found online. Search for Introduction/Royal March of the Lion from The Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saëns (Warm Up); Limbo Rock by Dora the Explorer (What To Do); Caribbean Leaps by Eric Chappelle (What To Do); Voliere from The Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saëns (Explore, Extend & Integrate); and Le Cygne from The Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saëns (Cool Down).
  • Important rules of dance lessons:
    1. Listen to the teacher; wait to move, and stop movement when the teacher tells you.
    2. Keep your body safe while moving.
    3. Stay in your own self-space.


  • Sun Dance, Water Dance by Jonathan London
  • Follow the Line by Laura Ljungkvist
  • Lines That Wiggle by Candace Whitman
  • Getting There by Marla Stewart Konrad

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

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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