The Skeleton Dance
This song is based on a traditional spiritual hymn from the American South. “Dem Bones” (or “Dry Bones” as it is also called) was written to teach children about basic anatomy. Over the years, it’s been recorded by numerous artists, including the Delta Rhythm Boys, Fats Waller and Rosemary Clooney, all well known American artists.
We’ve been asked numerous times what “dem bones” means. Well, it is a colloquial, or informal, way of saying “those bones” (or them bones). It’s not really “correct” English, but because it is traditional song with a strong regional feel of the American southeast, we kept it as “dem.”
In addition to teaching on parts of the body, The Skeleton Dance helps teach left and right. It’s perfect for studying new parts of the body, and with the sing along version, you can add in your own.
Left and Right
One of the fun features of this song is working on left and right. This can be a tricky concept for young learners and one that can take a bit of time to learn. Many very young learners may not know left or right in their native language, so don’t be too concerned if they don’t understand. Just keep practicing and have fun!
The updated video mirrors the side that the kids need to shake their hands for it to be their left, we recommend that you do the same. If you are facing the class, you will be shaking to your right, but the kids will go to their left (just like in aerobics class ^_^)
If this is confusing, try turning around so that you face the same direction as the kids, that way their left is also your left.
This concept is best practiced consistently and in a variety of ways. Here are some more left/right teaching ideas:
- For students that know their alphabet, have them hold their hands out in front of them with only the index fingers and thumbs outstretched. The side that makes an “L” is the left.
- Put a stamp or sticker ONLY on the right hand. Students will have to give you the correct hand to receive it. Have students raise their right hand, right foot, right elbow, etc. After a few times on the right, switch to the left.
- Divide a white board in two halves, labeled Left and Right (or L and R). Using magnets or markers, give students verbal commands as to which side to put the magnet or write on.
- Make a maze in class out of chairs, desks or other furniture. Blindfold one student and have the other students guide her through the maze by giving her verbal directions, such as “turn left,” “turn right,” “go straight ahead for three steps,” etc. Older kids, 7 and up, love this activity.
We hope you have a Happy Halloween!
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