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Physical Development and Health Lesson Addressing Benchmark 19.B.ECb

children holding hands


The children noticed the trees on the playground blowing wildly in the wind during a spring thunderstorm. Many children stood by the window and talked about how the tree branches moved in different directions. The teachers decided to plan a “tree dancing” activity during music and movement time build on the children’s observations of the trees.

About the Classroom

Ms. Jones and her teaching assistant (TA), Ms. Hernández, are responsible for developing learning activities that meet the needs of diverse learners and address the Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards (IELDS). Ms. Jones knows most children in her class will meet the standards and benchmarks. However, she will have to make adaptations for those children who need more individualized instruction.

Ms. Jones is the state-licensed head teacher in a monolingual classroom of 15 children with diverse ages (3–5 years old) and learning needs. There are 10 typically developing children with age-appropriate skills and behaviors in the class. These children act as peer models for the remaining children in the class.

Three children, Raúl, Luis, and Esther, are dual language learners whose home language is Spanish. They started school with little understanding of English. Ms. Jones’ TA, Ms. Hernández, is bilingual and uses both Spanish and English in the classroom. Two children, Joey and Hailey, have special needs requiring an individual education program (IEP). Joey has significant speech delays and is learning to use an adaptive and augmentative communication (AAC) device. Hailey has cerebral palsy (CP) resulting in significant motor delays, especially on the left side of her body. She uses a walker and wheelchair for mobility. On occasion, some children exhibit challenging behavior during small group lessons. Ms. Jones would like to implement strategies to address challenging behavior in the classroom.

Ms. Jones’ district uses a state-approved developmentally appropriate curriculum. Ms. Jones and Ms. Hernández perform universal screenings three times per school year (fall, winter, spring) for preschool children.

This lesson addresses a primary benchmark. A secondary benchmark is included to offer ideas for addressing an additional benchmark within one lesson. Teachers are encouraged to be creative in thinking of ways to address multiple benchmarks within one lesson.

Lesson Activity


  • Recording of instrumental music with variations in tempo (speed) and dynamics (volume)
  • Lightweight scarves for the children to hold while dancing

Primary Benchmark

Make meaning from experience and information by describing, talking, and thinking about what happened during an investigation.

Ms. Hernández hands out the scarves to the children. She says, “Do you remember when we were watching the trees blow in the wind? Let’s try dancing like we are trees in the wind. Our bodies can be the trunks and our arms can be the branches.” Ms. Hernández turns on the music and encourages the children to move like trees to the music.

Secondary Benchmark

Social/emotional Development
Demonstrate engagement and sustained attention in activities.

The children begin to suggest other creative ideas for movement. They suggest moving like birds in the sky and snakes on the ground. Ms. Hernández and Ms. Jones encourage this exploration and continue the movement activity with the children.

Monitoring Progress

Ms. Jones observes the dancing and takes notes for the children’s portfolios. She writes down descriptions of how the children move and whether the children are attempting to create movements that match the various living things that are suggested (e.g. trees are rooted and standing in one place while their arms move, snakes slither on the ground). She also makes general notes about the children’s engagement in the dance activities. Ms. Jones also uses a digital camera to take photos and/or videos to use in portfolio documentation.

Ideas to Extend Children’s Learning

Outdoors, the children continue to talk about the movement activity. The children note that the wind is moving through the branches. Ms. Hernández encourages the children to match the tree branch movements with their arms. She also encourages them to observe other living things such as grass being blown in the wind and a butterfly flying through the playground as inspiration for future dance activities.

Individual Adaptations for Children in Your Classroom

This lesson was written in the context of Ms. Jones’s and Ms. Hernández’s classroom. We now offer some general suggestions of adaptations you can use in your classroom.

Child characteristics

Some of the younger children are slow to engage in the movement activities and prefer to watch the older children dance.

Teacher action

The teacher who is not actively leading the activity gently encourages the younger children by dancing next to them.

Children dancing in a classroom

Child characteristics

Three children are dual language learners whose heritage language is Spanish.

Teacher action

One teacher speaks to the children in Spanish to describe the music and the living things they are pretending to be during the dance activity. At the beginning of the activity, the teachers preteach some verbs in English and Spanish by demonstrating and describing the scarves’ movements using the words wave, shake, flutter, swing, and drop.

Child characteristics

Child has cerebral palsy (CP) resulting in significant motor delays, especially on the left side of her body. She uses a wheelchair for mobility.

Teacher action

The teachers incorporate a walker into their activities so that child has more freedom of movement. They encourage the child to rest one hand on the walker and wave the scarf with the other hand. The teachers observe the child watching the other children pretending to be snakes on the ground; one teacher asks if she wants to join them. The teacher then helps the child move from her walker and helps position her on her belly like the other children.

Child characteristics

A few children become wild when the music is loud and fast.

Teacher action

The teacher plays a slower, quieter piece of music and encourages the children to match their movements to the new tempo and volume.

About this resource

Setting(s) for which the article is intended:
  • Preschool Program

Intended audience(s):
  • Teachers / Service providers
  • Faculty / Trainer

Age Levels (the age of the children to whom the article applies):
Related Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards:
Reviewed: 2013