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Ritenour Preschool Students Combine Performing Arts with Math & Literacy

Students practice math and literacy skills through dance, music and drama with the Wolf Trap program. Students at the Ritenour School for Early Childhood Education (SEC) are learning math and literacy skills through dance, music and drama.

The Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning program uses performing arts as a way to engage students in a new and creative way. Two SEC teachers, Jan DiLorenzo and Valerie Stanfill worked with Wolf Trap artists in residency, Ed Reggi and Diana Barrios, to implement the program in their classrooms this school year.

Students typically warm up with a “brain dance” as they start their literacy and math lessons, which increases active, engaged learning, the teachers said.

DiLorenzo said her students have connected with math lessons and literacy through dance.

“We used big and small dance movements while counting, this helped students who struggle counting through the teen numbers,” DiLorenzo said. “While practicing cardinal numbers, we used visuals and incorporated lots of dance and action.”

Thanks to Wolf Trap, stories have expanded from the teachers reading a book to students acting out characters and moving around the classroom to bring the story to life.

“My students loved the songs and sound effects that went along with each lesson,” said Stanfill. “They really grasped the concept of ‘coffee can’ theater, where there are props for telling a certain story without reading the book itself.

The Wolf Trap program was made possible at SEC through grants from University of Missouri St. Louis and Bodine/Toyota through and partnership with Springboard to Learning, a Missouri non-profit organization.

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