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The Duck Dance

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Here’s a neat activity that can be used at the beginning of the school year for your first year students.  
Submitted by Kathy Houk from Hermiston, Oregon.  K-1


Background: This activity was designed to (1) help introduce our first year students (in our case, it is First Grade) in a fun rhythms activity, (2) provide our new families with a “taste” of our physical education program, and (3) help me learn the names of our new students at the beginning of the school year. It also is a great public relations tool for our school!


- “Chicken Dance” (Available on the CD “Awesome Heart-Healthy Dances” by Great Activities)
- Teacher-made “Duck Hats” for each student and a few extras for parents

Set-Up: Before the school year starts, I make enough hat band strips for the first grade students who will be having PE for the first time at our school. (Unfortunately, we don’t as yet have Kindergarten students in PE.) The hat bands are simple to make; just staple together some light-weight tag board strips that are 1-1/2 inches wide. When I get the class lists, I write the name of each first grade student on the hat band strip in large black letters (easy to read). On the first day of class, I fit the hat bands around each child’s head with some ceremony, and staple it so that it fits and, “Presto,” we have a name “tag” that stays on and is seen easily from across the gym. The hat bands are placed in a small storage container when they are not being used by the students. Later on, these hat bands are “converted” into duck hats.

PE Open House” In October, we teach the “Duck Dance” (Chicken Dance) to the students and get ready for our “PE Open House.” This is a short assembly/presentation where we invite the school, parents, district office, and other members of the school “community” — as well as the media.

The students walk in wearing their duck hats to applause and lots of photos being taken. They do the “duck dance” one time through the song and then invite parents and other “special dignitaries” from the audience to join them for a second time around. We give out duck hats to the guest dancers. Everyone has a good time and it is short and sweet, taking only about 20 minutes total.

Making the Hats: We have adult volunteers make the hat bands into duck hats. Some years we have “duck hat making parties” at school in the evening and invite parents to attend and assemble all of the duck hats. Sometimes we send kits home and a few families assemble about eight duck hats and return them to school.

Needed Materials:

- Staples
- Glue sticks
- Black, orange, and white construction paper
- Yellow tissue paper

I usually make the “bills” and “eyes” ahead of time so the parents do not not have to cut them out. (Or if you have a parent work party, those can be cut out there.) The bills are made using the yellow construction paper and the eyes are made with black and white construction paper.


How to Make the Hats: (1) Gather the yellow tissue and staple it around the top edge of the hat band, until the entire outside edge of the tissue is used. The hat now looks like a chef hat and the student’s name is still easy to read on the hat band. (2) Crease fold the straight back edge of the orange beak about 1/2 inch. (3) Staple the two eyes on the back edge of the beak, then staple the beak and eyes to the hat band.


Closing: We hope you and your students enjoy this activity. While it does take a bit of “extra” work, it really helps to set the tone for the entire school year. Our older students (and parents) always seem to fondly recall when they did the Duck Dance too!

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