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Dances around the world/Music to my Heart

Students in other countries
An activity that combines the social sciences with music and the arts by exploring songs and dances from around the world.

Social Sciences curriculum connections
Level 1 Understand that people have different roles and responsibilities as part of their participation in groups. Understand how the past is important to people
Level 2 Understand how cultural practices reflect and express people’s customs, traditions, and values.
Level 3Understand how cultural practices vary but reflect similar purposes.
Level 4 Understand how people pass on and sustain culture and heritage for different reasons and that this has consequences for people.
Level 5 Understand how cultural interaction impacts on cultures and societies.

Learning materials

  • Computer
  • Internet


Have you ever seen the All Blacks perform a haka?  Have you danced a haka before?  Take a look at the video clip of the All Blacks preparing for their rugby game and answer the following questions:

a) Define a Maori haka.
b) When was it traditionally performed?  How many versions of the haka have been written? c) c) How does the All Black team decide which haka will be performed?

Activities and teaching strategies

Part A – Dances Around the World

It’s amazing how we can express themselves through music and dance.  Often, these arts evoke memories in us that are everlasting!  Not only that, they are an expression of culture, love, and tradition.  Ed Sheeran incorporated this idea into his music video, ‘Put It All On Me’.

Levels 1-2:

a) Pick three of the countries represented in the video. 
b) Find a video example of one style of dance performed in each country. What types of clothing do the dancers wear? 
c) Are there any similarities between dances you like to do?   

Levels 3-4:

d) Pick one of the countries represented in the video and research a traditional dance performed there. 

  1. What does this dance look like? (include movements and costume)
  2. What music traditionally accompanies this dance?
  3. What culture and people traditionally perform this dance? Why?
  4. When was this dance developed?
  5. What was occurring in this place and culture during that time period?
  6. Does this dance tell a story? If so, what?
  7. What else about the history and/or culture does this dance express?
  8. Include a link to a video showing the dance. 

e) Research a traditional dance from New Zealand.  Answer the same questions from d).

Part B – Music to my Heart

Music is deeply rooted in our culture and can convey so many emotions, feelings and values through song and instrumentation.  What are some traditional songs you sing with your family? 
  1. Click on the link to discover more traditional and folk music from New Zealand:
    Pick two songs and answer the following questions:
    a) Song name
    b) Artist
    c) Identify at least one instrument used in the song (other than voice)?

Levels 1-8:
Listen to the following five examples of some of the most popular songs from around the world in 2019:

a) Switzerland 
b) Canada|
c) Japan
d) Germany
e) United Kingdom 

1. Do you notice any similarities in the styles of music?  Any key differences?
2. What types of instruments do you hear in each?
3. What age group do you think is most likely to listen to each song, and why?
4. Which song would you be most likely to listen to, and why?   


Music can transcend time and culture.  It can bring people together to speak a ‘universal language’. Take a look at our global community coming together to share their talents for a common collective.

Levels 1-5:  Watch this video (38 minutes). Use the information provided to label a world map with song titles from around the world.  Colour the country and list the title for a famous song originating there.  
*Printable world map
Levels 1-9: Write a song that represents your culture and perform it for your family.  
Levels 6-9: Make your own music video highlighting dances from around the world.  Pick a song that is meaningful for you!  You can recreate some of the dances or choose clips online that represent different cultural dance styles. 
TED Talk by Vincent Moon and Nana Vasconcelos: Hidden music rituals around the world: (25 mins)


Cadzow, J. (2020). Dance around the world. Retrieved on 12 April 2020 from file:///C:/Users/pcsale/Downloads/dance_around_the_world.pdf

Dawe, N. (October 2019). Flowers (feat. Jaykae). Retrieved on 12 April 2020 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4C7gjP0-4xk.

Fold Cloud. (2020). Traditional/folk music of New Zealand. Retrieved on 12 April 2020 from https://folkcloud.com/folk-music-by-country/new-zealand>

Jageuchi. (2019). BTS – Boy With Luv. Retrieved on 12 April 2020 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEnvXsyGZmU 

KidsSong Channel. (May 2018). Kids songs from around the world. Retrieved on 12 April 2020 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZL96h0mEPZc

New Zealand Tourism. (2020). History of the All Black haka. Retrieved on 12 April 2020 from https://media.newzealand.com/en/story-ideas/history-of-the-all-black-haka/

PatentOchsner. (February 2019). Fur immer uf di. Retrieved on 12 April 2020 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CaecInUQ1Ec>

Rapdate. (December 2019). Loredana – Mit Dir (prod. Miksu & Macloud). Retrieved on 12 April 2020 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hF2iMEniBdA.

Robertson, S., & Johnson, M. (September 2019). The Weight: Featuring Robbie Roberston and Ringo Starr. Retrieved on April 2020 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ph1GU1qQ1zQ&feature=youtu.be>

Shadow Music. (July 2019). Lil Nas X – Old town road. Retrieved 12 April 2020 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4xPahDjY6k

Sheeran, E. (December 2019). Put it all on me. Retrieved on 11 April 2020 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ryJgDL9jzKk

Te Kete Ipurangi. (TKI, 2020). Dance around the world. Retrieved on 12 April 2020 

From http://artsonline.tki.org.nz/Teaching-and-Learning/Primary-teaching-resources/Units-and-sequences/Dancing-the-Key-Competencies/Dance-Around-the-World>

The National Center for Quality Afterschool Care (2019). Dance: Dance around the world. Retrieved on 12 April 2020 from http://www.sedl.org/afterschool/lessonplans/index.cgi?show_record=37

Vasconcelos, N., & Moon, V. (October 2014). Hidden music rituals around the world. Retrieved on 12 April 2020 from https://www.ted.com/talks/vincent_moon_and_nana_vasconcelos_hidden_music_rituals_around_the_world?referrer=playlist-music_around_the_world>

Waterproof Paper Organisation. (2020). Printable map of the world. Retrieved on 11 April 2020 from https://www.waterproofpaper.com/printable-maps/world.shtml


Rachel Williamson-Dean

Rachel Williamson-Dean is an experienced secondary school teacher, who has lived and taught in North America, the United Kingdom, Europe and Asia. She has a Master of Public and Population Health Degree (MPH – Dist) and a PhD in Health Education. Over the past ten years Rachel has worked with students and school leaders across New Zealand, including leading the digital literacy programme, The Summer Learning Journey, for which she received the NEXT Woman of the Year in Education 2018 award. 

By Rachel Williamson-Dean

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