As I looked around the crowded venue I didn’t know what to expect. It was Comic-Con and I was there to see Aquabats. Five minutes into the show, I realized that I had discovered my new favorite band. What I didn’t know was that I had just met a band that would become the center of some of my favorite Yellow Room moments. The year was 2012 and the band was KoooKooKangaRoo.
When I returned to class in the fall, KooKoo became a staple of the Yellow Room. Every Friday we would unwind and celebrate the weekend with what become known as a “raging dance party.” While I’m not sure about the “raging” part, I can say that it was the most hotly anticipated part of the week. Not just for the kids, but for the teachers.
Little did I know that the weekly dance parties were also bonding the class. According to an article by Music.mic, “A new study from the University of Oxford shows that dancing together with others boosts health and wellbeing. Even rocking or walking in step with someone creates a feeling of emotional closeness. The endorphin kick from dancing in sync increases pain tolerance and boosts the sense of connectedness with those you’re dancing with.”
Not only were the dance parties creating friendships, the dance parties were creating synaptic connections. KooKoo inserts a TON of vocabulary, math, and science in their songs. One particular piece which stands out is in their song "No Crust." If you check out the dance video, Neil and Bryan have this sweet dance move where they cross their body as they "slice it and dice it." That simple act of physically crossing your midline is fundamentally developmentally appropriate for children. When a child crosses their midline with their dominant hand they're practicing:
- Bilateral integration skills (using both sides of the body at the same time)
- Core stability and trunk rotation: The muscles of the trunk that helps to stabilizing the body so the arms and legs can be moved with control
- Hand dominance: The consistent use of one hand or foot most often that allows refine movement control to develop
- Planning and sequencing: The ability to follow multi-step instructions to achieve a defined outcome or end point.
- Body awareness: The information that muscles and joints send to our brain that tells us about our body position
This is just ONE example! I could go on...and on...and on. But I will just tell you to check out their website Kookookangaroo.com
Although I am no longer a teacher in the Yellow Room, I still thank than the band for giving me one of the greatest teaching years. Koo became such a fixture in our class that on our last day of year we went out in style with our own “Cat Party.” Memories created during those dance parties are still alive and well in those children who are now in second grade. Every time the band comes to play in our city we pull together a Yellow Room reunion, and dance how we did when we were younger.