Do the Hokey Pokey – Celebrating International Dance Day

April 28, 2018 | Katherine McG

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International Dance Day is celebrated every year on April 29. One of its goals is "to share the joy of dance with others" and I can't think of a better way to do that than to put my "write" hand in and turn out a post about every child's favourite dance: the Hokey Pokey!

Do The Hokey Pokey

The words and actions are simple:

You put your right hand in.

You take your right hand out.

You put your right hand in...

And you shake it all about.

You do the hokey pokey...

And you turn yourself about.

And that's what it's all about!

And the dance continues on with other parts of the body: left hand, right foot, left foot, head, whole self, etc.

The song itself can be found on many Children's CDs or downloaded from Toronto Public Library's eMusic collection.

Book Cover: The Hokey Pokey

As shown in the picture book illustrated by Sheila Hamanaka (only one copy left in our Toronto Public Library collections!) everyone loves to do the Hokey Pokey! 

And anyone can do it too... just ask Cushion in Lisa Wheeler's book, Hokey Pokey: Another Prickly Love Story.

Book Cover: Hokey Pokey: Another Prickly Love Story

Make It Your Own

According to Uncle John's Bathroom Reader, the history of this well-known dance song is a complicated one. (There is even a Canadian connection!)

And although it might be debatable as to who the original writer is, the Hokey Pokey is an easy song to rewrite and make your own. When you do it, you can add on or leave out whatever body parts you like. You can even do a variation of the song adapting for the season ("You put your left boot in OR take your right flip-flop out.") or holiday ("Put your sleigh bells in...").

And you don't have to be a human to do this dance either! You can (pretend to) put in your paws, antennae, whiskers, or tails. Or follow along with Elmo and some of his Sesame Street friends or Ethan Long's frogs.

Book Cover: The Croaky Pokey

And if you want some instrumental music to accompany your newly created "Snowkey/Summer/Puppy Pokey", might I suggest using Sharon, Lois, and Bram's "Hokey Pokey Karaoke" from their CD Great Big Hits 2.

That's Not Quite What It's All About

Of course the Hokey Pokey isn't the only way that you can celebrate International Dance Day with kids.

Here are a few more of my favourite dance books (with many more copies to borrow from Toronto Public Library!).

  Book Cover: Cats' Night Out  Book Cover: Everybunny Dance!  Book Cover: Footloose

Cats' Night Out by Caroline Stutson (Ages 3-6)

Everbunny Dance! by Ellie Sandall (Ages 2-5)

Footloose Illustrated by Tim Bowers; Music & Lyrics by Kenny Loggins and Dean Pitchford (Ages 3-80+)

Book Cover: Giraffes Can't Dance Book Cover: Kitchen Disco  Book Cover: The Nuts - Sing and Dance in Your Polka-Dot Pants

Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andreae (Ages 4-7)

Kitchen Disco by Clare Foges (Ages 4-7)

The Nuts: Sing and Dance in Your Polka-Dot Pants by Eric Litwin (Ages 2-92)

(And check out the video of "The Nuts" dancing in their polka-dot pants on The Nut family website.

Yes, International Dance Day is April 29 but why not celebrate it every day? Be silly, have fun, and keep dancing because when you think about it, isn't *that* what it’s all about!