The Quad Step

By Kate Katulak on May 04, 2017

The goal of this lesson is to further students’ understanding of graphing on a coordinate plane. After completing the lesson, students should be able to:

  • Distinguish between the x and y axis
  • Identify the origin
  • Identify the four quadrants of a graph
  • Plot coordinate points
  • Represent the features of a coordinate plane through body movement and dancing


  • Raised-line graph paper
  • Wikki stix
  • Western-themed clothing or props such as cowboy/cowgirl hats (optional)
  • A good (or bad!) sense of rhythm


  1. Before beginning this lesson, students should have at least an introductory level understanding of the structure and purpose of a coordinate plane.
  2. Begin the lesson by reviewing some key terms including coordinate plane, x axis, y axis, origin, quadrants, and positive and negative numbers.
  3. Continue the review by placing tactile lined graph paper on a desk in front of students and helping them to place wikki stix in the center of the graph to represent the x and y-axis.  Ask them to point to different locations on the graph, including the axis, four quadrants, and origin. Use verbal or hand-over-hand assistance if needed.
  4. Now explain to students that they are going to use body movements to represent different areas on a graph while imagining that the floor is one large coordinate plane. Explain, for instance, that they will move side to side to show that an x-axis is a horizontal line and forward and backwards to show the vertical direction of a y-axis.
  5. There are five basic moves to The Quad Step: the origin, the x-vine, the y-shimmy, the quad lunge, and the ordered pair. The origin is the starting point for the dance and represents the center of the graph, where the x and y axis intersect. Depending on the size of the space, tactile markers such as a yoga mat, baseball base, or cardboard cut into a square or circle and adhered to the floor can be used as a physical landmark to help students find their starting points (the origin).
  6. To begin the dance, students stand with their feet together at the origin with their hands on their hips. When the teacher signals, students should “do the origin” by jumping on both feet and clapping when they land. They should repeat this move any time they return to or pass over the origin.
  7. The x-vine is a side-to-side step that represents the x-axis. Students move into the x-vine immediately following the “origin.” Students begin by stepping their right foot to their side past their right shoulder. They then cross their left foot over their right foot (so their legs are crossed and left foot is to the right of their right foot). Students continue to the right by repeating these movements (i.e. outward side step with right foot then cross over with left foot). The size of the room will determine how many steps in either direction the students can move.
  8. students square dancingOnce students have moved as far to the right as their space allows, they reverse their leg movements to travel to the left—now students’ left foot steps out past their left shoulders and their right foot crosses over their left foot. As they move left they will pass through the origin (remembering to jump and clap when they have reached the center) and continue as far left as their space allows. Once they have moved right and left over an imaginary horizontal line (the x-axis), students should return to the origin (again remembering to jump and clap). If students have difficulty orienting as they step right and left, consider linking everyone together with a rope or rod they hold that can be pulled in either direction to prompt students which way to move. Incorporate arm and hip movements to the x-vine for students with a greater sense of body awareness. For example, ask students to sway their hips and arms to the right and left as they step to either side.
  9. The y-shimmy is a forward and backwards movement that portrays the y-axis. Here students keep their left foot planted firmly at the origin, while their right foot steps forward and backwards to represent the vertical position of a y-axis. It is called a “shimmy” because as students step forward and backwards, they rock their arms and shoulders in a shimmying motion. More specifically, as students step their right foot forward they bend slightly forward at the waist and shimmy their arms and shoulders forward. As their right foot steps behind them they lean their torso slightly back and again shimmy with their arms and shoulders.
  10. As the name implies, the quad lunge is a lunging movement into the four areas that represent the quadrants of a graph. To begin, students simply step their right foot in front of them and slightly to the right (at about two o’clock) where quadrant 1 would be on a graph (top right of the origin). Students then step their left foot forward and slightly to the left (at about ten o’clock) and into the space of quadrant two (top left of origin). Their left foot is then planted behind them and slightly to the left (at about seven o’clock) and into quadrant three (bottom left of origin). Lastly, their right foot is planted behind them and slightly to the right (at about five o’clock) and in the area of quadrant four (bottom right of origin).
  11. The ordered pair is the final move of The Quad Step, and demonstrates students’ understanding of coordinate points on a graph. The teacher calls out any ordered pair, and students must move to the location of those points on a graph. If, for instance, the teacher calls “2,3”, the students will move two steps to the right and three steps forward. Or, if the teacher says “-1,-4”, students will move one step left and four steps backwards.
  12. Once students have positioned their bodies in the locations of the ordered pair, they choose a silly or fun pose to hold. This move completes the dance!

dance collage


  • To make the lesson more fun, play square dancing or other upbeat music while students dance.
  • Explain that the goal is to eventually move to the beat of the song.
  • Play the music before teaching students the moves, and have them clap to the beat so they get a sense of the rhythm.
  • You may want to turn off the music while students are learning the dance moves so they can concentrate and move at their own pace.
  • After teaching each move, resume the music and have students practice doing what they have learned so far to the beat of the song.
student using wikkistix on graph paper
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