F a n c
y D i v e
Background: This humorous poem by Shel Silverstein includes
action words that can be expressed through movements created by the
students. The teacher reads the poem text as the accompaniment to
the movements. Shel Silverstein was born in Chicago in 1932 and is
best know in children's literature for his poetry; however he was
also a cartoonist, composer, lyricist and folksinger. He died on May
10, 1999. Other popular texts by Silverstein are Where the
Sidewalk Ends (1981), Falling Up (1996), The
Giving Tree (1964) and A Light in the Attic (1982) and
The Missing Piece (1982).
Grade Level: 2-5
Formation: Random students in a personal space with space to
move without bumping into other students.
Equipment: Poem Fancy Dive by Shel Silverstein from
his popular book, A Light in the Attic (1982) New York:
Harper and Row Publishers Pictures of people diving.
In this dance the poem is read two times by the teacher while the
students listen. During the first reading, the students are asked to
listen to the humor in the poem. In the second reading the
students are asked to listen for words that depict actions. Students
identify the words such as, dove, twirl, twist, bounced, spun among
Full poem text p. 30.
The fanciest dive that ever was dove
Was done by Melissa of Coconut Grove.
She bounced on the board and flew into the air
With a twist of her head and a twirl of her hair.
She did thirty-four jackknives, backflipped and spun,
Quadruple gainered, and reached for the sun,
And then somersaulted nine times and a quarter -
And looked down and saw that the pool had no water.
The teacher reads each line of the poem while students create
movements to represent the text.
"The fanciest dive" - Each student makes a shape with his or her
body demonstrating someone who is about to dive in to a pool.
"that ever was dove" - Each student makes a second diving shape that
is different from the first.
"Was done by Melissa of Coconut Grove." Each student creates a new
diving shape, a crazy or unusual shape for a dive.
The teacher repeats the first three phrases while the students
perform the sequence of diving shapes.
"She bounced on the board" - Students do three jumps or hops while
maintaining the third diving shape.
"and flew into the air" - Students take two or three running steps,
jump up, land on two feet and hold a still shape.
"With a twist of her head and a twirl of her hair." While holding
the still shape from the jump, student make one small quick twist of
their head to the right or left and then move their head and upper
body in a big circle.
The teacher repeats the poem from the beginning adding the new
"She did thirty-four jackknives, backflipped and spun," - Students
do four (not thirty-four) bend and stretch movements to a count of
four. They can bend at the waist or bend a body part such as an arm,
finger, or leg. The bending is followed by a spin on one or two
"Quadrupled gainered, and reached for the sun," Students walk four
steps forward and then four steps backward while circling their
arms. Then, slowly rise up on their toes while reaching with
arms toward the sun. The hold this balance for four counts.
"And then somersaulted nine times and a quarter-" Students spin the
place while changing levels from high to low to high.
"And looked down and saw that the pool had no water." In this last
movement the students stand on one foot or on two feet and wildly
wave their arms and legs for 8 counts.
The teacher repeats the poem from the line, "She did thirty-four
jackknives," to provide a practice time for the students to
coordinate the movements with the words.
The teacher reads the entire poem from the beginning as students
perform the movements that correspond to the words. The
teacher should pause after each line to allow the movements to occur
before reading the next line.