What are Fingerplays

Early childhood development is an important period for a toddler to engage in active learning. Making them use their hands and fingers during their active engagements is an essential component of any learning activity during this period.

Keeping that in mind, fingerplays are developed to allow the children to act what they sing or speak using their hands and fingers. Thus, fingerplays are most often short poems or rhymes, which can be either sung or spoken, while the fingers and the hands can be used to act it all out.

The benefits of fingerplays

As a parent or a child educator, it is necessary to learn several fingerplays, which can sometimes be novel creations of one’s own. In any event, such activities will bring many benefits to the toddler and among them capturing the young child’s attention and engaging the child in the learning process are two of the most important benefits. Among other benefits, expanding the child’s imagination and creativity, increasing the child’s language skills and listening skills as well as fast tracking the development of fine motor skills are also important.  In addition to the above benefits, it is also a way where the teacher can instruct children of very young age and therefore build up their skills in relation to listening, comprehending and executing an instruction given by the teacher or the parent.

An example of a fingerplay

For those who do not wish to invent their own fingerplays, there are many websites providing poems and rhymes along with the hand and finger movements that should accompany the same during recital. One such fingerplay example for the poem ‘acrobat’ is as follows.

– One little acrobat swinging through the air. (Hold index finger up and swing side to side.) 

– He flips and he flops as we stare.  (Make index finger bend up and down.) 

– And suddenly he’s caught by another with flare!  (Excitement in voice, lock both index fingers together.) 

– He didn’t even know that he gave me a scare!  (Shake head and wipe brow.) 

– One little acrobat swinging through the air  (Hold index finger up and swing side to side.) 

– He lands and bows with the greatest of care!  (With left palm facing up, place right hand with index finger up on  left palm and bend it as to bow. ) 

Body movements with fingerplays

Although such activities are given the name fingerplays, it is not necessary to limit the movements only to the hands and fingers. Thus, body movements can and should be incorporated in the fingerplays as well. In some instances, these activities are also given the name ‘action rhymes’.

Practicing a fingerplay

When practicing fingerplays or action rhymes, parents or the child educators should lead in the initial few steps but should allow the child to lead as much as possible later on. The topic of the fingerplay should ideally be a topic of interest to the child and it is imperative that whatever fingerplay that is chosen, engaging in the activity should be fun and enjoyable to the child as well as to the parent or the teacher. The child should be taught slowly when introducing the fingerplay and it can be repeated as many times as the child wishes.

The child should be introduced to new fingerplays as they catch-up although the old favorites should not be forgotten completely. It is also necessary to encourage the child to act out poems and rhymes by him or herself as much as possible. In each such instance, parents or the teachers should comment, join-in, praise and encourage the child to continue the effort as much as possible.