How can the Tai Chi Animal Frolics be linked to an integrated curriculum?
The Tai Chi Animal Frolics appeals to the natural curiosity of children and is best taught in relation to other areas of the curriculum e.g., language arts, science, social studies, math, art, music, dance, drama and physical education. These connections can utilize all of the body’s sensory modalities e.g., hearing, seeing, tasting, touching, smelling and kinesthetic awareness. Children learn best when they are simultaneously employing many of their senses, bringing them into a more present state of attention and awareness. This interconnected method of presenting information helps children be ready to learn. Learning in this way reinforces the practice of the Tai Chi Animal Frolics form while making it relevant to other areas of learning, thus deepening the experience.
There are many ways to approach designing an integrated curricular model. The following example illustrates a few ideas that can come from the study of cranes, one of the Tai Chi Animal Frolics animals.
Read about and make a chart detailing the life cycle of cranes. Use books, videos, and internet resources to gather information. Invite a speaker from the International Crane Foundation to come to your school or center.
Look at maps locating the habitats of cranes, and identify the countries they fly over during their migration routes.
Study origami and the geometric patterns created by this Japanese paper folding art as you make origami cranes. Learn spatial, geometric and other mathematical concepts while performing the Tai Chi Animal Frolics form. Describe the movements of the form using mathematical terms such as straight or curved lines or symmetry and asymmetry.
Study Haiku poems about cranes and create original Haiku poetry.
Dance and Physical Education
Observe cranes in film or at the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin and create a movement study or short creative dance based on interpreting crane movements.
Read the crane poetry while someone performs the crane movement described in the poem. Use evocative music or naturalistic soundscapes of real cranes.
“Teachers, administrators, supervisors, and parents who are interested in approaches to guiding and enhancing child development are sure to be pleased with this program. Truly of the highest quality, it provides students with an opportunity to step into a world of harmony and balance in order to develop their potential.”
Mariel Wozniak, PhD
Former Fine Arts Coordinator, Madison (WI) Metropolitan School District