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This unit study includes lessons and activities based on the book Dancing in the Wings by Debbie Allen.

Sassy is a long-legged girl who always has something to say. She wants to be a ballerina more than anything, but she worries that her too-large feet, too-long legs, and even her big mouth will keep her from her dream. When a famous director comes to visit her class, Sassy does her best to get his attention with her high jumps and bright leotard. Her first attempts are definitely not appreciated, but with Sassy’s persistence, she just might be able to win him over. 

from Dancing in the Wings at

This story of perseverance serves as the base for lessons in social studies, language arts, science, math, and art. Grab our Dancing in the Wings unit study and get started.

Thanks to Kisha Rahming for preparing this Dancing in the Wings unit study.

Dancing in the Wings Unit Study Lessons

Here is a sample of the lessons found in this Dancing in the Wings unit study:

Social Studies: Occupations – Ballet Dancer
Most professional classical dancers have studied ballet from about the age of five. However, some modern dancers, particularly men, begin training as late as 16 to 20 years of age. Try to find a book from the library about ballet dancing. Discuss the terms adagio (a slow ballet dance) and tendu (pointing the toe). If the student is interested, try to attend a ballet performance so that he/she will learn to appreciate the discipline that is required of ballet dancers.

Social Studies: Biography
Jackie Joyner-Kersee is often regarded as the best all-around female athlete in the world. She has won three gold, one silver and one bronze Olympic medals in heptathlon track and field events. Read a biography to your student detailing the achievements in Jackie Joyner Kersee’s sports career.

Art: Medium
Kadir Nelson has used oil paint to illustrate Dancing in the Wings. Experiment with applying white oil paint over a dark blue oil paint (as seen on the cover or on the pages when she is staring out the window thinking about the audition.)

Check out other Kadir Nelson books, too. He has a distinct, beautiful style.

You can grab a copy of the entire Dancing in the Wings unit study in an easy-to-print file at the end of this post.

How to Get Started with the Dancing in the Wings Unit Study

Follow these simple instructions to get started with the Dancing in the Wings unit study:

  1. Buy a copy of the book, Dancing in the Wings, or grab one from your local library.
  2. Print the Dancing in the Wings unit study.
  3. Choose the lessons you want to use with your student (a highlighter works great for this).
  4. Enjoy a week of literature-based learning with your student.

Download Your Dancing in the Wings Unit Study

Simply click on the image below to grab the free Dancing in the Wings unit study.

Dancing in the Wings Unit Study

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