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Myths and Legends - The Cicada and the Ant (years 1-2)

Year 1–2 dance unit prepared by Catherine Kelly, Auckland College of Education.

PK: Students explore moving directly and indirectly through landscape/air pathways, as ants and cicadas. Students experiment as ants, meeting and greeting, stopping and starting and following other ants, for example, follow-the-leader pathways through ant tunnels, anthills, along plants, in the house, on food, lifting and pulling dead creatures to the ant colony, etc. Students experiment with climbing trees, singing, sunbathing, and making air pathways as cicadas.Spend some time letting the children experiment with and experience each movement idea.

DI: Ask the children to choose their three favourite pathway movement ideas and combine them into a sequence. Extend the sequence by including still shapes, for example, the cicada sunbathing, or the foodless cicada dead, or the ant snug underground.

CI: Perform, with half the class watching at a time. Observers look for interesting pathways and interesting follow-the-leader movements, or identify specific ant or cicada activities, or ant-like or cicada movements.

PK, CI: Choose a movement from three different children, put them together and have the whole class learn this sequence.

Other ideas Students discuss, read, and view photographs, and TV clips about ants and cicadas. Listen to cicadas. Collect shed cicada skins. Observe ants on hot concrete, carrying food back to their colony's nest.Discuss ants as hard workers, always cleaning up and scavenging after other insects.Use fairytales, picture books, and poems as movement ideas for dance. Students choose a favourite minibeast and discuss types of movement, for example, a slithery snail, a swaying preying-mantis, a fluttering butterfly. Students improvise movements.The whole class retells a Māori myth and makes a big whole-class, shared book. Students write their own fairytale or myth. Transfer their writing ideas and visual images to sequence a dance.

Myth: The Cicada and the Ant Graham, P. (1995). Māori nature traditions: Children of earth and sky. Auckland: Bush Press of New Zealand.In the heat of summer, Kihikihi the cicada clung to Tane of the forest and sang in the sun. But Popokorua the ant was busy, scurrying in search of food to store for winter.The ant called on the cicada to work with him. "Let us use these warm sunny days to gather food that we can eat in winter." The cicada said, "No. Let us climb in the trees and settle on the sun-warm bark. Summer is the time to sing our song of joy."The two could not agree, so the cicada went on singing in the sun while the ant built a store of food. Indeed, the cicada pitied the ant, calling it foolish for its continual toil and for making its stores away from the sun.Then the cold days began and food became short. Frosts and rains returned to the earth.Soon, the homeless and foodless cicada died. The ant, however, now snug in its underground home, had shelter through the winter and stores of food aplenty. So Kihikihi sings carelessly in summer but dies at its end, while Popokorua labours through the summer to survive the winter.

Dance activities related to a theme

This dance, The Cicada and the Ant, could be adapted for any age group, but is particularly suitable for students in years 1 to 4.ActivitiesAnts make pathways individually, then follow the leader through, over, and under:

  • ant nests and anthills;
  • making and digging ant tunnels;
  • under and over plants;
  • along hot concrete pavement cracks and lines;
  • along sugar/food trails, gathering food for winter;
  • running over dead insects;
  • lifting dead creatures onto their backs and pulling them in pairs/groups back to their nest;
  • meeting and greeting other ants or other types of creatures, for example, cicada; and
  • stopping and starting.

Cicadas make pathways individually, then follow the leader through, over, and under:

  • darting, flying in the air;
  • crawling along, up and down trees;
  • singing or making an interesting cicada body percussion sound with movement; and
  • sunbathing, stretching lazily in the sunshine.

Developing ideas

  • Students remember three movements they enjoyed making as an ant or a cicada. They combine these into a short movement sequence.

Performing and interpreting

  • The sequences are perfomed, half the class at a time.
  • Watchers interpret what they see the others doing.

Dance planner

Download Catherine Kelly's

The Cicada and the Ant (PDF 15 KB)

PDF (15kb).

Elements of Dance chart

When writing your own dance plan, use the

Elements of Dance (PDF 11 KB)

chart from Dancing the Long White Cloud: Teaching dance in years 1-10 (reprinted with permission from the publisher, Learning Media Ltd http://www.learningmedia.co.nz ) to inform your learning outcomes – PDF (11kb). Back to top

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