Teaching my son a biology lesson through music and dance? I honestly wasn’t sure how well it would go over at first. Much to my pleasant surprise, both my preschooler and I enjoyed learning about the life cycle of the Monarch butterfly. In fact, we did the entire program twice in a row because we were both immediately hooked. At only three years old, my son now knows the Monarch’s life cycle, can dance the motions without my assistance, and is able to describe the butterfly’s activities in his own words. He now repeatedly asks to study the lesson and perform the entire dance movement cycle for me. My skepticism has vanished; we are sold on the concept of Arts Integration!
Marcia Daft developed this particular DVD with ages 4 through 8 in mind, but it is easy to see how the age range could be stretched on both ends of the spectrum. The audiovisual aspects of the DVD are stunning, with a musical score specifically composed to reflect the life cycle of a Monarch as well as nature footage offering firsthand views through a time-lapsed lens. The drawing of story maps and discussion questions really emphasize the students’ comprehension and cerebral knowledge. While the video shows how well this program works for a group setting, it works equally well in a one-on-one setting, proving what diverse audience situations this DVD serves.
The DVD urges children to see beyond the traditional school setting of desks covered in textbooks, pencils, and paper. By utilizing their bodies, words, interpretation, and creativity to reiterate the concepts they are being taught, they enhance their educational experience and bring true kinesthetic learning a new sparkle.
Ms. Daft’s teaching methods and talent for working with young children are obvious throughout the DVD. She speaks, plays piano, demonstrates movements, facilitates discussion amongst the children, leads performance, and continuously explains and directs. The children on the DVD gave my son the encouragement he needed to join in and participate in each portion of the study. Their enthusiasm and cooperation are contagious.
The DVD is designed as a weeklong Arts Integration course. Repeating the five chapters and stretching them out over many days is just one way to achieve that goal. You can also incorporate further studies and activities, such as going to a cultivated butterfly garden or butterfly house, stepping into your own backyard to search for butterflies, or reading books of various types about butterflies. Not only is this DVD a complete lesson in and of itself, but it also serves as a springboard for further study and creativity.