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What is BrainDance™?

A blue frame surrounds 8 images depicting breath, tactile, core-distal, head-tail, upper, lower, body sides, cross-lateral and vestibular patterns of the BrainDance™

You’ve heard about BrainDance™, but what is it, why is it so beneficial and which age groups should you be using it for? The quick and dirty answer is it’s a way to wake up the brain to get it ready to start learning and you should be using it in ALL of your classes, for all ages.

BrainDance™ is the brain-child of Anne Green Gilbert.

Developed by Creative Dance Center founder, Anne Green Gilbert (M. Ed), the BrainDance™ is based on eight developmental movement patterns human beings will move through in their first year of life through primitive infant reflexes and floor play. Brain Play™ activities are designed to foster young children’s body awareness and coordination, assist with early brain development and support emerging language and literacy skills.

When used as a warmup, BrainDance™ movement patterns integrate the brain and body by supporting neurological re-patterning, body alignment and connectivity, and increase blood and oxygen flow. The BrainDance™ can also serve as a useful assessment tool for professionals working with young children to identify sensory and motor delays or difficulties.

For more information on Anne Green Gilbert’s BrainDance™ please visit

8 Movement Patterns

The BrainDance™ involves 8 movement patterns:

  1. Breath
  2. Tactile
  3. Core-Distal
  4. Head-Tail
  5. Upper-Lower
  6. Body Sides
  7. Cross-Lateral
  8. Vestibular

Breath is life. When a baby is born his/her first breath fills the brain with oxygen which causes rapid brain growth. Breath continues to be key to our ability to think, move and feel. Slow, sustained breathing not only provides our brain and body with the oxygen it needs to fully function but also can ease feelings of stress and anxiety.

Touch is an integral part for babies to develop secure attachment during infancy. Touch develops body awareness and sensory integration. Continued skin-to-skin touch throughout the early years is critical to healthy social and emotional development.

In the first few months of life, babies will begin to extend out of the fetal tuck. Babies will stretch their limbs away from the body into space (distal) and then curl them back towards the body (core). This “core-distal” movement pattern develops babies’ awareness of their body in space and develops confidence as a mover. Body extension and contraction strengthen children’s connection with core muscles for proper body alignment.

By 2 months babies will begin to lift and turn their head while on their tummy, strengthening the muscles in his/her neck and developing the cervical curve of the spine. Moving the head and pelvis (head-tail) develops awareness of their relationship to each other and increases spinal mobility. It also increases the strength in hands, wrists, arms, chest and shoulder, which supports fine motor development.

From 3-7 months, babies will begin to develop the ability to synchronize movements in their upper and lower bodies. On their tummies babies will press up onto arms and hands, grounding their upper body, and reverse this by grounding their lower body by tucking toes under and pressing their pelvis into the floor. On their backs, babies will lift knees to chest and then bring arms and hands towards knees.

Young children need to organize their upper and lower bodies independently before they can synchronize them together. Grounding and moving their upper or lower body also promotes emotional stability and the ability to set healthy boundaries.

Moving body sides balances the body so that both right and left sides have equal strength and mobility. Children will naturally have one side of their body that is more dominant, but for full-body integration, we want to strengthen both sides as much as possible. The horizontal eye tracking that is developed in body sides movements supports reading development.

Between 7-12 months, babies will begin cross-lateral movements, bringing the opposite hand/arm to leg/foot, while creeping and crawling. While crawling, babies also develop their vertical eye tracking. Engaging in creeping and crawling activities should continue into early childhood to further support these developments.

Cross-Lateral movements can also involve crossing the midline of the body which builds pathways between the right and left sides of the brain, supporting body awareness and cognitive developments, such as planning and sequencing (robust thinking).

The vestibular system begins developing in the womb and continues to develop for the first few years of life. The vestibular system helps humans analyze the relationship between body parts and their movements in relation to each other, as well as the relationship between the body and the general space. This is important for developing body awareness and balance responses, as well as processing sensory input. Creeping, crawling, swinging, swaying, and spinning all activate the vestibular system.

Who is Brain Moves for Young Children designed for?

Brain Moves for Young Children is designed for anyone who teaches children between the ages of 2-8!

If you are a K through grade 3 classroom teacher, Brain Moves will provide you with a quick and simple way to keep your students moving daily without needing to rearrange your classroom or any special equipment. The best part? It takes less than 10 minutes!

If you are a daycare or preschool teacher or librarian the Brain Moves activities integrate seamlessly into your welcoming routine or circle time or storytime! Teach physical literacy alongside your early literacy and child development goals!

If you are a dance or music teacher, Brain Moves provide a holistic, inclusive warm-up for your young dancers and musicians! Both dance and music techniques and concepts can be taught and reinforced through Brain Moves!