Getting young dancers to understand popping is a big challenge. Here is a way to get the movement into their bodies.
Start with a wrist pop. The heel of the hand makes a sharp downward pressing hit on the beat. Keep the arms straight and bend the wrists with the fingers going up. Mimic the revving of a motorcycle and, for fun, let the dancers make a “vroom vroom” sound.
Next, have them keep the hands relaxed instead of in fists. Get them to focus on popping only the wrist, not the whole arm, making the pop sharp and quick.
Popping looks most impressive when multiple body parts are used. Leg pops can be difficult to learn, but they make upper-body pops look more impressive.
Start by leaning side to side on the beat. When leaning left, push the right knee back as if hyperextending it, then reverse. Do it gently until comfortable, then snap the opposite knee back on the lean. Add wrist pops and eventually neck and chest pops to create a full-body pop.