Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence and Climate Change (K-12)

Warm-up: What is Kinesthetic Intelligence?
     1. Make sure students grasp the meaning of Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences, including the definition of bodily-kinesthetic intelligence. (This will be review if students already completed Earth Day Network’s Multiple Intelligence lesson plan, found at www.earthday.net/lessonplans.)
               a. Explain to students that there are many ways to define “intelligence.” Each one of us has a different ability to understand complex ideas, to adapt effectively to the environment, to learn from past experience, to engage in various forms of reasoning, and to problem solve.
               b. Explain that being intelligent means more than being “smart” or getting a good grade on a test. What we learn in school is only part of what makes us intelligent. Howard Gardner, a psychologist from Harvard Graduate School of Education, says that there are many different types of human intelligence in his Theory of Multiple Intelligences.
              c. One of these intelligences is called “Bodily-Kinesthetic.” It is the ability to use the body and tools to take effective action or to construct or repair, to build rapport to console and persuade, and to support others, to plan strategically or to critique the actions of the body, to appreciate the aesthetics of the body and to use those values to create new forms of expression.
               d. Optional: Ask students to name other intelligences they can think of. Present Gardner’s list of 8 Multiple Intelligences. These can be found at Encyclopedia of Informal Education: http://www.infed.org/thinkers/gardner.htm, or in the Resources listed above. The Extensions section will discuss these as well.

     2. Ask students to think of examples of people who demonstrate a high kinesthetic intelligence (such as athletes, dancers, gymnasts, actors, masseurs, chiropractors, puppeteers, construction workers, craftsmen, anyone who uses fine motor or gross motor skills, or anyone who moves gracefully).

     3. Tell students that in this lesson they will call upon their kinesthetic intelligence (among others) to learn about climate change, a very important environmental phenomenon.

Activity One: Introducing Dance Vocabulary and Dance Movement
      1. Have students familiarize themselves with the following components of dance. As you explain the meaning of terms, have students demonstrate the actions with you so that they kinesthetically/physically understand the meaning. Make sure that students spread out around the room and that they can extend their arms out to the side without touching their neighbor. This will ensure that everyone has their personal space and no one will get hurt.
               a. Body Parts: Have the class move each of their body parts from their head to their toes as if they are “waking up” their bodies. Have them shake their heads, shrug their shoulders, stretch their arms up to the sky, and so on, all the way down the body. Don’t forget about hands, arms, shoulders, waist, hips, legs, ankles, and feet. Have students wiggle their fingers and toes, bend their knees, scrunch up their faces, roll their eyes, etc. so that every body part is “awake” and moving. This movement will heighten students’ awareness of their bodies.
               b. Body Action: Have students experiment with different ways to move their bodies. Have them bend and flex their arms, extend their legs, rotate their ankles, twist their torsos, lift their legs, spring into the air etc. Also have students think of their own action words that they can demonstrate with their body like “spin” or “shake” (make sure students understand their boundaries here and that “hit” or “fall” actions are not acceptable).
               c. Shifts of Weight: Have students stand balanced on one foot and then shift their weight to stand on the other. Have them experiment with different ways to shift their weight back and forth. They could hop from one foot to the other; glide as if they were ice skating, simply step as if they were marching, etc.
               d. Tempo: Explain that “tempo” means speed. Have students explore shifting their weight at different tempos. If they speed up their tempo hopping from one foot to the other it will be as if they are jogging in place. Then have them try to hop in slow motion. Try using music to help students understand this concept by playing fast, up-tempo music and then slow-tempo music.
               e. Rhythm: Explain the concepts of “pulse,” “accent,” “meter,” and “syncopation.” Demonstrate how to clap your hands to the rhythm of a piece of music of your choice. Point out big accents in the music when it becomes louder, faster, or more powerful. Explain that choreographers try to make the movement match the music. Have students try to make their movement match the rhythm in a piece of music by marching in place to the beat. Speed up when the music speeds up, and slow down if the music slows. You can also demonstrate meter by stepping twice as fast as the rhythm of the music. This is called double time.
               f. Space: Explain to students that there are many different ways to move their bodies in space. Have them demonstrate the concepts of level (high, medium, low, ground, air), direction (forward, backwards, sideways), pathway (curved, straight, zigzag), spatial planes (vertical, horizontal, lateral), and range of movement (big, small, medium). For example they could move forward, on a low level (crouched down or crawling), in a zigzagged pathway.
               g. Energy: Explain to students that they can move their bodies with different energies to create qualities of movement. Demonstrate and have students explore sustained, shaking, percussive, swinging, forceful, free, expansive, and subtle qualities of movement.

Activity Two: Mirroring Activity
     1. Next, start a mirroring exercise. Explain that students should turn to face their teacher and pretend that they are looking in a mirror. They should try to copy your movements as precisely as possible, paying attention to detail.
               a. As you lead the group in mirroring, tell them that you are going to use two types of movement energy: shaking (rapid and vigorous) and sustained (slow and controlled).
               b. Demonstrate both types of energy and have them mirror each one. Start by making your movements slow and simple so that students can copy you and gradually build up to faster and more complex movement.

     2. Then have students get into pairs to do the mirroring activity and have them take turns being the leader and the follower. Encourage the students to experiment with using different energies and combining different elements of movement while mirroring each other. Challenge them to try unusual movements like a galloping shake or a sustained hop.

Activity Three: Dance and the Environment

     1. Now that students are comfortable with the basic elements of dance, introduce the environmental subject matter of the lesson. You can have students return to their desks or sit down where they are to pay attention to the new material. Tell students they will be learning about climate change.

  • Start a class discussion about climate change and global warming. Ask students what they have heard about the topic. What do they think those terms mean? Why is this topic important to be learning about?
  • Pass out the student fact sheets about climate change (Reproducible #1) or project them to the class as a whole on the board. Go over terms, definitions, and the concepts of the greenhouse effect, global warming and climate change. Discuss what climate change and global warming are, their causes and consequences, and how humans can contribute positively or negatively. Take the time to dispel any myths or misinformation the students may have about climate change and how it is caused.

              a. What is climate change? What is global warming? Climate change represents a change in long-term weather patterns. They can become warmer or colder. Annual amounts of rainfall or snowfall can increase or decrease. Global warming refers to an average increase in the Earth's temperature, which in turn causes changes in climate. A warmer Earth may lead to changes in rainfall patterns, a rise in sea level, and a wide range of impacts on plants, wildlife, and humans. When scientists talk about the issue of climate change, their concern is about global warming caused by human activities.
              b. What are some possible causes of this recent increase in temperatures? Increases in greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, which trap more solar radiation in Earth’s atmosphere. Although climate variation has occurred throughout history, this recent sudden increase is likely linked to human actions and behaviors such as burning of fossil fuels, increased emissions, agriculture, reduced tree cover, etc.
               c. What are some possible effects of climate change in the long run? Increased global temperatures will lead to new weather patterns, ice caps and glaciers will melt, ocean currents will alter, furthering climate changes; sea levels will rise, fresh water supplies will dry up, crops will be altered, plant and animals species will continue to become extinct, and degraded environmental conditions will be harmful to human health.
               d. Why is it considered such a risk? This will change life on Earth as we know it and may cause it to be uninhabitable for humans and many other species. In addition to the changes above, other consequences could include: famine, spread of disease, greater competition for resources, harsher weather incidents, etc.
               e. What can we do to combat global warming? Reduce fossil fuel and energy use, reduce emissions, plant trees, consume less, alternative transportation, etc.

Activity Four: Co-Choreography Game
      1. In this activity, students will choreograph a dance about climate change. To some students, making up a dance on their own can seem like a daunting task, so this choreography game lets each student contribute a small piece of choreography to the final piece.
               a. This activity requires a large open space outside in a field, on the playground, or in the gym. If done inside the classroom, push all desks and chairs to the edge of the room to allow for space to move.
               b. Explain to students that dance is a form of communication, so students must first identify the story and/or ideas they want to portray in their dance. Explain to students that their dance will tell the story of climate change.
               c. Next, students need to identify the "Who, what, where, how, when, and why?" of their story. Using Reproducible #1 as a guide, have students answer these questions about communicating their story of global climate change:
                         i. What do I want to communicate to my audience with movement?
                         ii. What story I am telling? What is its beginning, middle, and end?
                         iii. What are the unique qualities of the subject?
                         iv. What makes my subject different from everything else?
               d. Once they have answered these questions, each student will create a short movement segment or phrase that communicates the chosen idea. The length of the movement segments will vary depending on each individual student and the number of students in your class.
               e. This game works like the commonly played game “telephone.” Have students form a large circle. One student or the teacher will start by making up a short phrase of movement (around 5-10 seconds) which the entire class will learn. The next student in the circle will add their own movement to the end of the first. Go all the way around the circle until each student has contributed their own piece of choreography to the telling of the story. Have everyone practice the movements you have so far before new movement is added so that students can learn it. At the end you will have choreographed your own dance piece inspired by the environment!
               f. Decide if your class is interested and able to perform their dance for others, including other classes, teachers, parents, principal, community, or others. Consider having props, costumes, narration, etc. Be sure to discuss the themes of your performance and what messages your class would like to transmit to your audience.
Movement Ideas and Suggestions:

  • The dance could start off with movement that demonstrates the green house effect

                          • Big circular movements can represent the earth
                          • Squiggly movements that go downwards can represent light from the sun radiating down to earth
                          • Explosive jumps can represent the gasses bouncing off the Earth’s crust and back into space
                          • Demonstrate that some of the gasses get trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere by jumping up but then collapsing or sinking back down to the ground

  • Then move into dancing out what happens in global warming

                          • Have fewer gas movements escaping into space and stronger and more frequent squiggly gas movements getting trapped on Earth
                          • Demonstrate the effects this has on the planet: Big sweeping, rolling movements could represent the rising water of the oceans and students can act out the effects on humans using movements that represent being hot from increased temperature, hungry from famine caused by drought, etc.

  • Finally decide how to end your dance

                         • Represent how humans can curb their emissions that contribute to the greenhouse effect. Students can begin to slow down their movements and make them smaller and less energetic until they end in stillness.
                         • Or students may choose to end their dance as a representation of what will happen if global warming continues. Gas buildup in our atmosphere will grow out of control and damage the environment. Students’ movements can increase in energy and size. Big, dramatic jumps can make for a very exciting finale.

  • Variations: 

                         • Have your students play the game without speaking. Tell them they can communicate through body language.
                         • Have students narrate the dance as it goes along to explain what the movement means to an audience
                         • Set your dance to music. Visit your school or local library to find a piece of music that makes you want to dance!

  • Other environmental themes you can use to inspire movement:

                         • Recycling, the life cycle of a piece of plastic
                         • The cycle of the seasons and leaves: from budding in the spring, growing in the summer, changing colors in the fall, and falling off the trees in winter
                         • Different ecosystems and the plants and animals in each one
                         • The possibilities are endless. Have students come up with their own ideas.

  • It is important to give your students creative freedom, just make sure their movements are safe and physically possible. Falling or throwing themselves on the ground should not be tolerated.

Wrap Up: Discussion
Conclude with a discussion to review concepts and activities.

     1. What is climate change? What is global warming? Climate change represents a change in long-term weather patterns. They can become warmer or colder. Annual amounts of rainfall or snowfall can increase or decrease. Global warming refers to an average increase in the Earth's temperature, which in turn causes changes in climate. A warmer Earth may lead to changes in rainfall patterns, a rise in sea level, and a wide range of impacts on plants, wildlife, and humans. When scientists talk about the issue of climate change, their concern is about global warming caused by human activities.
               a. How were these concepts represented in your dance?

     2. What are some possible effects of climate change in the long run? Increased global temperatures will lead to new weather patterns, ice caps and glaciers will melt, ocean currents will alter, furthering climate changes; sea levels will rise, fresh water supplies will dry up, crops will be altered, plant and animals species will continue to become extinct, and degraded environmental conditions will be harmful to human health.
               a. Were consequences of climate change represented in the performance? How?

     3. What can we do to combat global warming? Reduce fossil fuel and energy use, reduce emissions, plant trees, consume less, alternative transportation, etc.
               a. Did you leave your viewers with some ideas and actions for combating climate change? How were these portrayed?

Extensions:
     1. Ask students what intelligences they used in the activities they completed. Have students explain their answers to demonstrate their understanding of the multiple intelligences.
               a. Kinesthetic: understanding how to move your body to convey a message or story, using muscular control and strength to choreograph movement
               b. Logical: using memory to remember a sequence of dance steps, learning how to count beats to make the movement in sync with the music in rhythm
               c. Spatial: understanding where your body is in space and how to move it in space, being aware of where your personal space starts and stops, creating movement that is pleasing to the eye
               d. Naturalist: understanding the concepts behind climate change, global warming, and the green house effect
               e. Linguistic: learning the vocabulary of dance, pairing verbs with movement, learning the vocabulary of the science lesson, understanding and following directions
               f. Intrapersonal: choreographing your own segment of dance that is unique to you
               g. Interpersonal: working as a group, collaborating to choreograph a dance, in the mirroring exercise – paying close attention to your partner, following their every move, learning how to be both a leader and a follower
               h. Musical: understanding the concepts of rhythm, beat, and tempo, listening to music and using it to inspire movement

     2. Performance Options:
               a. Divide the class in half and have students perform their dance for each other
               b. Team up with other classes and put on a performance of each class’s dance for the school.
               c. Have students research real dance companies that focus on bringing environmental awareness to the public through their choreography. Find out if any of the companies are performing in your area and encourage students to go see a performance for extra credit. Students can write a critique of the performance commenting on the dancing style as well as the environmental content.