In New Zealand there is a cultural group called the Maori People. I taught my children about this people group and we practiced a few words from the Maori Language… Runga (up), Raro (down), Roto (inside), Waho (outside). With each word we would make a motion to show the direction that the word communicated, then the children had a contest to see who could do the correct motions when I gave them a command in Maori.
After learning a bit about the Maori language and culture, I introduced the children to Poi Ball…. Poi means “ball on a cord” and so traditionally women would spin poi balls in each hand to keep their fingers nimble for weaving and men would spin poi with rocks inside in order to maintain strength for battle. So with my kids we used sock for out poi balls, rolling 2 socks inside of one long sock and then tying the bottom part tight to keep the balled up sock in the ball form at the end of the stocking. After making our poi, I demonstrated how to spin the poi: forwards, backward, overhead, down low, switching sides while spinning, and figure eight. The kids caught on fast and were very enthusiastic to spin their “balls on string” especially when we turned on traditional poi music!
My kids are way better dancer than I am and yet I was to teach them a dance! I choreographed a simple dance that went along to the beat of the song and we stepped in time to the music while spinning our poi in different ways. AT the end of class I let the children dance freely and we had a small dance party. But, of course, after class was finished and I let the children carry the poi home, my boys were quick to turn the poi ball into a weapon! –just glad we stuffed with socks instead of rocks!