Dancing in a Circle: is it Educational or Just Fun? | Musical Play

Updated: Nov 17, 2020

Simply dancing in a circle can teach children an abundance of social and musical skills. Here is our best circle dancing tips and tricks.

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Dancing in a Circle: is it Educational or Just Fun? | Musical Play

Children naturally gravitate towards dancing in a circle activities, because dancing in a circle is fun – but it also teaches children a wide variety of social and musical skills. Dancing in a circle teaches children how to watch, wait, listen, take turns, move and play in time with others, and anticipate and follow the sequences of songs and dances.

The advantage of a circle is that each person is an equal player – there is a lot of opportunity to listen and watch everyone, and to move and play in time. Circle songs and games help to develop a strong sense of music community, as well as joyful, interactive play.


Here are some simple tips and tricks on how to introduce circle dancing activities into your Musical Play:

Idea 1. Folk Dances

Through interconnecting circle dancing and folk music, children can quickly learn prepositional concepts, such as up/down, in/out, and over/under. While in a circle, try moving in one direction for 8 steps, changing direction for 8 steps, going into the middle for 4 steps and moving backwards for 4 steps, all to the beat of a folk song. This will engage children in prepositional concepts, while they also feel the musical form of folk dancing.

Idea 2. Leader in the Middle

A child can go into the middle, do a solo dance and enjoy being the leader, while having a narrative song sung about what they are doing moment by moment. Questions can be sung to the group, such as “How many children in the middle today?” and “What can you do in the middle?”

Idea 3. Math Concepts

Circle dances can be done with a partner, or in groups of four or more – and maths concepts can be developed through singing instructions, such as “Make a circle of 4 today” to the tune of “Skip to my Lou”. This can be extended by adding more instructions. For example, “Make a circle of 4 today / Walk around in a circle today / Back we go the other way / And now get ready to stop.” Keep adding more children to the circle through the counting song until everyone is involved in the dance.

Idea 4. Elements of Music

Circle games help parents and children to develop a sense of steady beat as they hold onto a rainbow ring and bounce it in time to the music. Echo songs and singing games can be played, thus developing timing and understanding of the elements of music.

Babies enjoy sitting on parents’ knees, watching and feeling the steady beat through the use of circle bouncing games and peek a boo games, as well as dancing in their parents’ arms during circle dances.

Idea 5. Props

Turn taking games can be played with older children by passing around props such as bean bags, stones, a ball, or balloon, in time to an instructional song or music. This develops a sense of sharing, as well as hand-eye coordination skills.

Idea 5. Cultural Songs


Circle dancing activities are a great way to learn musical games from other cultures – this can help children learn other languages and appreciate various cultures.

dancing in a circle, Julie Wylie CD music for children babies toddlers

There are many songs and games on Julie Wylie’s CD “Dancing in a Circle” that can be done with a parachute or rainbow ring, by holding hands, or by dancing with scarves, poi, or ribbon sticks.

Simply introducing circle dancing activities into your Musical Play has countless benefits on the growth and development of children – and even better, they are fun too!