Fingerplays serve several purposes in the lives of young children. Not only are they fun for little ones who first reach out to the world with their fingers, fingerplays encourage both manual dexterity and cognitive activity. While the child manipulates their fingers, hands, and body movement through imitation and repeated movement, thereby improving fine motor skills, they are also learning to observe rhythm of language, develop listening skills and increase vocabulary.
For both the parent and child, fingerplays can ease transitions within the daily rhythm, by providing a repetitious end of one activity and beginning of a new activity. Fingerplays can also prepare a child for a new adventure or remind them of fun times past. Here is one we used with our sons last summer:
I’m a little choo-choo,
(Extend 2 fingers in a V-shape on both hands move one set of fingers across the other – the ASL sign for train.)
I puff down my track.
(Bend elbows & move arms back & forth like train wheels chugging.)
See me go forward,
(Take 3 steps forward while chugging.)
See me go back.
(Take 3 steps backward while chugging.)
Hear my bell ring,
(Pretend to hold the string of a bell pulling up & down.)
Here my whistle blow.
(Hold fist up to mouth & pretend to blow a whistle.)
I make great noise wherever I go.
(Cover ears with hands.)
During the summer months, we find ourselves outdoors for most of the day. This is a wonderful opportunity to use fingerplays to relate to nature. As we observe the natural world, our little ones, who feel akin to nature and are deeply rooted in their bodies, can fully engage the world around them with nature-based fingerplay. We can make them up on the spot, or memorize a few favorites to have ready during our daily walks or outdoor adventures. Here are a few simple ones to get you started:
Busy Little Bee
As I was walking, I saw a little bee
(Move pointer finger to resemble a flying bee.)
He was flying from flower to flower in front of me.
(Bring fingers of one hand together & touch one side of your nose then the other – the ASL sign for “flower”)
He was making golden honey on this sunny summer day.
(Hold arms above head with fingers touching to resemble the sun.)
I watched him fly and buzz until he flew away.
(Move pointer finger in zigzags away from you.)
(Begin with one hand palm up for the tree branch and other fist on top for the nest & bluebird.)
Little bluebird rests in a tree.
(Thumb stick out of fist as a bluebird.)
Little bluebird looks at me.
Little bluebird chirps, “Hello.”
(Tap thumb and index finger together to chirp.- the ASL sign for “bird”)
Spread your wings and away you go!
(Cross hands, hook thumbs and wave fingers to “fly away.”)
Let’s go to sleep the caterpillars said…
As they tuck themselves into their beds.
(Make a fist)
They will awaken by and by,
(Open hand one finger at a time)
And each one will be a lovely butterfly.
(Cross hands, link thumbs & wave fingers like wings)
Lynn is a park ranger for the National Park Service, wife to a family-loving man, and mama to two enthusiastic sons who are learning to love nature, enjoy simple pleasures and find adventure at every turn. Come see what the day brings at her blog How the Sun Rose.