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Name of Activity:

Maypole Dance (May '08)

Purpose of Activity:

The students will be able to perform the traditional Maypole Dance and successfully wind/unwind the ribbons around the Maypole.

Suggested Grade Level:


Materials Needed:

A volleyball standard or a tall anchored pole for approximately every 12 students; a ribboned cap made from an empty 16 oz. vegetable can with 15 foot ribbons (1-2 inches wide) taped across the unopened end of the can with 2 different alternating colors, one ribbon for each dancer; duct tape (Please refer to the photos below on how to make the Maypole.) A video of the maypole dance is below too. To make the ribboned cap, place one ribbon over the top of the can and tape the ribbon all the way around the can. This will secure the ribbon. Place each of the other same color ribbons around the perimeter and over the top of the can and tape each ribbon all the way around the can. Tape all of the ribbons of the same color first, and then tape each of the second color. There will be several layers of tape that will help hold all of the streamers in place. (Make sure you bring each ribbon over the top of the can before taping.) If the can is larger than the pole, secure it by using a foam type material/ball inside the can.

Recommended music:

Any type of music such as the Grand March, Virginia Reel, or instrumental songs such as Wonderful Copenhagen from Children of the World CD will be appropriate for the dance.

Beginning dance formation:

assigned ribbon around the Maypole

Description of Idea

Assign numbers to the students at each pole. Ask even #s to face clockwise and odd #s to face counter clockwise. All even # students should have the same color ribbon and all odd # dancers should have a different color ribbon. All students will hold their ribbons with their inside hands. Even #s will hold their ribbons above their heads and odd #s will hold the ribbon down at their hip level. The students will walk forward 4 counts with the odd #s ducking under the ribbon of the even #s. The students will then reverse their ribbon positions. They will walk forward four (4) more steps and evens will duck under the upper ribbon. The dance continues with the students continuing to move in the same direction while repeating the up and down ribbon movements over and over. Soon the maypole will be wound with the ribbon. Students can face the opposite direction, repeat the up and down ribbon movements while walking and the pole will be unwound. The dance could also include movements such as grapevines, slides, hops, etc., into the pole and away from the pole. It is important for the each student to remember the direction in which (s)he is traveling. Have fun making up variations and patterns. Video of the maypole dance is below.

Assessment Ideas:

After wrapping the pole, ask the students to describe the ribbon pattern they have created. In the upper grades, ask the students to determine what they must do in order to unwrap the Maypole.

Teaching Suggestions:

Make this a cross-curricular activity by incorporating the history of the Maypole dance into your lesson.

This makes a great Springtime performance activity!

Description of Images Below (how to make the Maypole)

The first image just shows the equipment a person will need to assemble the Maypole ribbons. The second photo shows the can with one ribbon attached. It shows the person how to take the ribbon all the way over the top of the can and then secure it with tape. The 3rd photo shows the can with all the ribbons of one color attached. The last one shows the completed project with all 12 ribbons attached.

Image 1 Image 2
Image 3 Image 4


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Maypole Dance (May '08)

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Previous Comments:

Mary Thornsberry

Thank you! I have been interested in a Maypole lesson for a while now!


Do you have any suggestions on proportions for the height of the pole, and lengeth of the ribbons, compared to the height of the dancers?

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