Jennifer shared with us that she has neckties in her room--old pre-tied neckties--which she uses all the time to help teach folk dances. These neckties help cut down on so much of the stress that's possible when you starting thinking of the logistics of teaching folk dance. Kids can be finicky about choosing a partner, remembering their place, etc. The neckties help to take away a lot of that stress. Here are some ways that I find that the neckties help destress my classroom and help my students succeed.
Neckties - The Benefits
Know your place - I love using neckties to help define the dance. Think of a square dance setup. You need one student to be the "man" and one be the "woman" if you're following traditional folk dance places and setups. Using ties will let you take out those gendered words and change your language. You can just say "ties on the left of the duet" or "ties move and the other partner stay put." I try and vary this so that the tie kids don't get ALL the fun. Putting the ties on ONE of the partners helps so much because then you can have them alternate jobs and no one in the pair ever gets confused about their part.
Getting Your Ties - Clean out the Closets!!
If you find neckties for cheap or free but your'e worried about the "thrift store smell" you could always put them in the dryer at home with a dryer sheet and set the dryer on "high" for a little bit. The heat and the dryer sheet should cook out some of the bad smell. Just a thought.
My ties hang on a fun little coat tree that I have but you could use 3m hooks, a pegboard, a coat rack, or just keep them in a bag or box. Ties don't take up too much space which makes them easy to store and easy to pull out at a moment's notice.