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Photo by Adriana Aceves via Unsplash

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9th, 10th, 11th, 12th




130 minutes

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - West, Hawai'i


Google Docs, Google Slides


This lesson plan is licensed under Creative Commons.

Creative Commons License

Lessons from Indigenous Dance: Site-Specific Choreography for Climate Action

Created By Teacher:
Last Updated:
Sep 22, 2023
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In this lesson, students explore the functions of dance in society, experience how dance can be used to reconnect with nature, and choreograph a dance that honors their natural environment and inspires more sustainable living.

Step 1 - Inquire: Students discuss the various functions of dance in society.

Step 2 - Investigate: Students explore ways in which dance can help people reconnect with nature and live more sustainably.

Step 3 - Inspire: Students observe their natural environment closely, reflect on the impact of climate change, and create a dance to honor and reconnect with nature.

Accompanying Teaching Materials
Teaching Tips


  • This lesson aligns with Hawai'i's Nā Hopena A'o HĀ-BREATH Framework.

  • Uninterrupted time spent outdoors in the presence of nature, in quiet observation, helps to cultivate a reconnection to nature.

  • Students employ the often underutilized medium of dance to connect with nature and impart the importance of nature, ultimately enjoying an experience that is impactful and memorable.

  • Students learn about Indigenous cultures and pay homage to ancestral knowledge.

  • Students are granted creative freedom and can utilize their own musical, poetic, and choreographic skills to explore an important issue.

  • Students walk away with a heightened sense of our dependency upon nature, our indebtedness to nature, and our responsibility to live harmoniously with nature in order to combat climate change.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should have a basic understanding of climate change. Students can use this link from the State of Hawai‘i to learn about local impacts prior to the lesson.

  • Teachers need a classroom device and a connection to the Internet to view the videos and conduct any research.

  • Teacher may need to identify outdoor spaces around the school for students to use.

  • If assigned for homework, students may require transportation to visit specific local natural sites. Teacher may need to ensure accessibility to these sites for all students in advance.


Scientist Notes

Students can learn how to choreograph in this lesson and utilize dance to communicate with the natural world. It highlights the inventiveness, feelings, subtleties, ancestry, cultural identity, and excitement that go along with traditional dancing and aims to evoke ancestors' memories of protecting the environment while inspiring the Indigenous peoples of Hawai'i today to be good stewards of their surroundings and live in harmony with nature. All the materials were fact-checked, and the lesson passed our science review.


Primary Standards

  • National Core Arts Standards
    • Dance: Standard 1 - Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work.
      • DA:Cr1.1.Ia Explore a variety of stimuli for sourcing movement to develop an improvisational or choreographed dance study. Analyze the process and the relationship between the stimuli and the movement.
    • Dance: Standard 2 - Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.
      • DA:Cr2.1.Ib Develop an artistic statement for an original dance study or dance. Discuss how the use of movement elements, choreographic devices and dance structures serve to communicate the artistic statement.
    • Dance: Standard 3 - Refine and complete artistic work.
      • DA:Cr3.1.IIa Clarify the artistic intent of a dance by refining choreographic devices and dance structures, collaboratively or independently using established artistic criteria, self-reflection and the feedback of others. Analyze and evaluate impact of choices made in the revision process.

Supporting Standard

  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Geography
      • D2.Geo.4.9-12 Analyze relationships and interactions within and between human and physical systems to explain reciprocal influences that occur among them.
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