ABCs in Action, From Apple to Zigzag

Illustrations by Rich McMahon

Inspire young dancers with this alphabet of playful images

Now I know my ABCs, next time won’t you dance with me?

A major accomplishment for many children is learning their ABCs. Once they’ve mastered these 26 letters, children are on their way to words—which, in turn, lead to songs and stories, ideas and imagination.

But what about movement? We challenged Julie Kay Stallcup, owner and director of Revolution Dance Center in Montrose, California, to come up with an “alphabet of images” that teachers could use in class. Here’s her result: each letter from A to Z corresponds to a lively, fun image that prompts a movement, from picking flowers to jumping like a kangaroo to standing as still as a statue. This engaging alphabet “helps children connect with letters, words, patterns, vision, and sounds,” Stallcup says, and could be used creatively in classes for students ages 18 months to 7 years.

Use these letters and images during circle time: “Who can show me ‘H’ for ‘hugs’?” You can also use the letters to create fun across-the-floor exercises or sprinkle them into recital routines. Students could even create their own personalized dances by “spelling out” their names. “Jump into a world of imagination with your class,” Stallcup says. “The ideas are endless.”

Julie Kay’s Alphabet Images

A—APPLE One, two, three; pick the apple from the tree.

B—BALLOON Tie a string on your balloon and enjoy the fair.

C—CAR Watch me zoom in my car. Turn right! Turn left! Stop!

D—DIAMONDS Let me show you the sparkling diamonds on my fingers.

E—ELEVATOR Elevator going up! Elevator going down!

F—FLOWERS Let’s pick the most beautiful flowers in our garden.

G—GOLD Look! Do you see the gold at the end of the rainbow?

H—HUGS Give a great big hug to someone you love.

I—ICE CREAM Scoop up the ice cream. What’s your favorite flavor?

J—JACK-IN-THE-BOX Turn the crank. Out I pop like a Jack-in-the-box.

K—KANGAROO Jump through the zoo like a happy kangaroo.

L—LIZARD We slither like lizards through the bushes at night.

M—MAGIC Wiggle your fingers; wave your arms. Can you cast a magic spell?

N—NIGHTINGALE The nightingale sits in a tree—so pretty, so still. Now it flies away.

O—OCTOPUS Wiggle and wave your eight sucker-bearing arms, Octopus.

P—PALACE Step gracefully as you enter the palace, my prince or princess.

Q—QUILT Can you lay the quilt on my body as I go to sleep?

R—REST Rest on my shoulder for a while. Wake up!

S—STATUE Pose like a statue in the museum. What are you?

T—TRAIN Toot toot! Let’s all hop on the train together!

U—UNICORN Let’s ride our unicorns down the hill. Giddy-up!

V—VICTORY Celebrate your victory! Jump high and cheer!

W—WET What a hot day! Run through the sprinkler and get wet!

X—XYLOPHONE Strike the wooden xylophone bars with your mallets.

Y—YACHT Watch me sail into the sunset on my yacht.

Z—ZIGZAG Let’s zigzag all over the room. No bumping, please!