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Micro-Organisms Lesson Plan

Author: Jana Shumway

Year: 2015

Artform: Dance

Subjects: Science

Grade: 6th

Duration: 45 minutes+

Overview: Sixth grade students will dance about the characteristics of bacteria. Afterwards they will learn about the characteristics of fungus by choreographing small dances.

Standards and Objectives

The student will identify and demonstrate movement elements (time, space, energy and motion) in performing dance.

The student will improvise, create, perform, and respond to movement solutions in the art form of dance.
Students will understand that microorganisms range from simple to complex, are found almost everywhere, and are both helpful and harmful.

Observe and summarize information about microorganisms.
Sixth grade students will understand that bacteria has the following characteristics: it’s small, it’s alive, it’s everywhere, it’s made up of simple cells, it loves to replicate, it comes in three shapes (spherical, bacilli, spirals) and it can help or be a hindrance to man. They will also learn about the characteristics of fungi.



Before the students enter make a mess in the gym or your room by randomly placing ribbons, exercise balls and swimming noodles all over the floor. (This is optional but the kids love it).


Start right off by dancing the following movements with no explanation (and do not say the key words - just do the movement and have the students follow you).

Key WordsMovement
SmallStart in a small shape.
AliveWithout traveling around, do big movements (big arms, circling torso, turns, deep knee bends, etc.)
EverywhereRun anywhere 1,2,3,4; Freeze 5,6,7,8. Repeat 3 more times. On the freezes create shapes that are stuck to the walls, on the floors, facing upward - as if on the ceiling, in the middle of the room, on a variety of levels, connected to other people, etc.
SimpleFrom the last frozen shape, just simply move only the head very slowly from one direction to another.
ReplicateCall out one students’ name. Have that student run into the center of the room and create a shape. Then one at a time each student runs to the center and connects to the other students in creative shapes.
CopyStudents now grab one partner’s hand and pulls them out of the clump. Together they create a huddle, then break apart and create individual shapes. Repeat: huddle, break apart, individual shapes.
SphericalIndividually create circles of all kinds: circle shapes, circling arms, circling floor patterns, etc.
RodNow create long straight shapes: on the ground, with just arms, with whole body, with just legs, etc.
SpiralDo spiraling movements 1,2,3,4, hold a spiraled shape 5,6,7,8. Repeat 3 more times.
HelpGrab a partner’s hand and “help” them around the ribbons, over the exercise balls, and over and around the noodles.
HinderStop suddenly and do staccato movement.
Break DownDo lots of little collapses to the floor.


Repeat The Dance

Now repeat the dance and say the key words as you dance it. At the end, ask the students if they can guess what they are dancing about.

Repeat The Dance Again

After they guess what they’re dancing about (or after you tell them), repeat the dance a third time and explain the key words as they dance each section.

Key WordsMovement
SmallBacteria is so small you can only see it through a microscope.
AliveBacteria is alive.
EverywhereBacteria is found everywhere: in soil, in the bread we eat, inside humans, etc.
SimpleBacteria is made up of simple cells that fall under the heading prokaryotic, therefore, they do not have an organized nucleus.
ReplicateBacteria loves to replicate which is their whole purpose in life.
CopyOne bacteria cell can divide and create two cells.
SphericalBacteria comes in 3 different types of shapes. One shape is spherical.
RodAnother bacteria shape is rod shapes, or bacilli (looks like hot dogs).
SpiralAnd finally bacteria is found in spiraled shapes.
HelpBacteria can be very helpful. It helps plants absorb nitrogen and it helps humans use the nutrients in food. Also scientists use good bacteria to produce medicines and vaccines.
HinderHowever some bacteria can be very harmful causing sore throats (like strep throat), ear infections, cavities and even pneumonia.
Break DownBacteria helps to break down cellulose.

Repeat The Dance A Fourth Time

(Remember they learn through repetition!) Repeat the dance a fourth time, yet this time have them tell you all they know about bacteria as they dance the dance.

The Shape Of Bacteria

When looking through a microscope, bacteria would be found in the following shapes:

  • Cocci (sphere): pairs, singles, chains and clusters
  • Bacilli (rod): pairs, singles, chains and flagellated bacilli
  • Spirochete (spiral): Borrelia, treponema, spirila

This next section is not as movement based, but it creates a visual of what bacteria looks like in a microscope. Call out the name of one of the above shapes and have them respond using the props (exercise balls, ribbons and swimming noodles).

Respond To The Following Shapes In The Following Ways

  • Spherical pairs: Put two exercise balls together and sit and bounce on them.
  • Spherical singles: All exercise balls are separate and not touching. Sit and bounce on them.
  • Spherical chains: Put the balls together in a long line. Again sit and bounce on them.
  • Spherical clusters: Put the balls together in 1-3 large clusters and sit and bounce on them.
  • Bacillus pairs: Put two swimming noodles together at the ends forming a line.
  • Bacillus singles: Each swimming noodle is held up not touching each other.
  • Bacillus chains: Create long chains by connecting several (or possibly all) of the noodles.
  • Flagellated bacilli: Put the stick of the ribbon in the noodle and sway around the ribbon by holding the noodle.
  • Spiral borrelia: Dance with the ribbon and let the ribbon create random “S” type of swirls.
  • Spiral treponema: Move the ribbon up and down in a curved zig zag fashion.
  • Spiral spirila: Whip the ribbon high then create an “S” curve then whip it low.


The class could now perform the above dance for parents or other classmates. However, they could also take the above idea of using key words to create small group dances about fungus. Fungus has wonderful images from their flowering bodies which include: mushrooms, slime molds, birds’ nests, puffballs, truffles, brackets, cups, corals, earthstars, etc. I find these are very inspiring for movement and I’ve seen some beautiful dances come from the inspiration of fungus!

More information about fungus is: athlete’s foot, tinea and ringworm are some diseases caused by fungus; fungus lives in soil, lakes, rivers, seas, the air, in or on plants or animals (even humans), etc. Once the students create their fungus dances have them perform for each other.

Science Benchmark
Microorganisms are those living things that are visible as individual organisms only with the aid of magnification. Microorganisms are components of every ecosystem on Earth. Microorganisms range in complexity from single to multicellular organisms. Most microorganisms do not cause disease and many are beneficial. Microorganisms require food, water, air, ways to dispose of waste, and an environment in which they can live.

Investigation of microorganisms is accomplished by observing organisms using direct observation with the aid of magnification, observation of colonies of these organisms and their waste, and observation of microorganisms’ effects on an environment and other organisms.

It became very difficult to group some living things into one or the other, so early in the past century the two kingdoms were expanded into five kingdoms: Protista (the single-celled eukaryotes); Fungi (fungus and related organisms); Plantae (the plants); Animalia (the animals); Monera (the prokaryotes).

Resource: Google definitions
Adjust the dance as needed for individual student needs.
  • Monera Kingdom: The kingdom of single-celled organisms without a cell nucleus (see also prokaryotes). Monera are the most primitive living things and are thought to have been the first to evolve. (Resource:
  • Bacteria: a member of a large group of unicellular microorganisms that have cell walls but lack organelles and an organized nucleus, including some that can cause disease. (Resource: Google definitions)
  • Fungi: are a group of living organisms which are classified in their own kingdom. This means they are not animals, plants, or bacteria. Unlike bacteria, which have simple prokaryotic cells, fungi have complex eukaryotic cells like animals and plants. (Resource:

While the kids are dancing watch to see if they are understanding the concepts. If not, sidecoach them to help them understand.


You can have a discussion or quiz at the end of the lesson; or have the students share what they learned with a partner and then report to another group of students or to you as to what they learned.

They can also demonstrate their understanding through choreographic assignments (but be sure the objectives are clear for the assignment and then make sure they meet those objectives).



  • Ribbons
  • Exercise balls (or use what you have - find some balls in the P.E. closet)
  • Swimming noodles
  • Word strips with key words