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P.E. Central Lesson Plan: Swiss Ball Square Dance
Students must have had experience balancing on the Swiss balls with various arm and leg movements. Kids on the Ball, an excellent book by Anne Spalding, Linda Kelly, Janet Santopietro, Joanne Posner-Mayer, has been an excellent resource for me regarding Swiss ball activities. There are some good beginning rhythms activities
Purpose of Activity:
To combine movements into repeatable patterns.
Suggested Grade Level:
Materials Needed:
One appropriately sized Swiss ball per student; Tape to mark the formation on the floor; Kids on the Ball Book; Whiteboard or poster to list the square dance calls; Recommended music: Fisher's Hornpipe (Great Activities) Cotton Eyed Joe (Rednex) Beginning dance formation: Students place their Swiss ball on a piece of floor tape and sit correctly on the ball; Traditional 8-member squares work well; or adapt the formation to become triangles if the number of students is not divisible by 8;
Lesson Plan:
Description of Idea

After a review of safety, tell the students that they are going to work as a group to create a square dance sequence by selecting the calls they want to use. I created nine square dance calls and I walked the students through each (no music). The calls I used were:

High five your partner (or high five your corner)
All join hands and circle hips
Right or left hand star (while bouncing on the ball)
Right or left foot star (while bouncing on the ball)
Arm movements (student-created)
Swing your Swiss (put one hand on top of your ball and walk around it)
Carry ball around the hall (pick up ball and walk one time around the square)
Dribble ball around the hall (hand dribble the ball one time around the square)
Do-si-do your partner (or corner) (Hold ball high overhead as you do)
Forward and back (roll into a tabletop balance by walking the legs forward until ball supports shoulders): because of space issues, this one works best when head couples or side couples perform it, not the entire square

Next, I randomly sequenced the calls and called them to music, "patter call" style. When the students could perform the calls, we moved on to creating the dance.

Each partner group in the square selected one call and practiced performing it to eight counts (or a multiple of eight). They checked to see that no one else in their square had picked the same call. Next, each partner group taught the others in their square how to perform their call to eight counts. Cooperatively, the square decided the sequence of the four calls and practiced the sequence until they could perform it smoothly. Finally, they danced their Swiss ball square dance with music, as each partner group called out their move and counted the beats.

For closure, I had the students tell their partner their favorite part of the Swiss ball square dance.


Have students expand their dance by adding another, different four-call sequence.

Keeping safety in mind, ask students to create additional square dance calls for the Swiss balls.

Provide an opportunity for students to videotape or perform their sequences.

Assessment Ideas:

Assess each partner group as they call the dance sequence one time through.

Ask students to teach their dance to another group of eight.
Have students write down their dance and use a rubric to assess if it met the stated criteria.

Adaptations for Students with Disabilities:

The partner can adapt the calls to meet the needs of student with disabilities: push a student using wheels around the square, help hold the ball, etc. The students in the square could minimize the on-ball/off-ball transitions if necessary. Teachers could include calls that describe ways special needs students already use Swiss balls.
Laurie Hinman who teaches at Sunset Mesa Schools in Albuquerque, NM. Posted on PEC: 3/28/2003.
This lesson plan was provided courtesy of P.E. Central (
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