Sometimes, low-tech solutions are best when it comes to activities for preschoolers. Long before young children attended learning centers and worked their way through a preschool curriculum , mothers used lullabies, rhymes, and fingerplays to soothe and engage them. These simple activities are still a staple in preschools in Pembroke Pines, as they offer a wide range of benefits for young learners.
One of a preschool teacher’s jobs is to help children fine-tune their communication skills, language comprehension, and vocabulary. Fingerplays fit all of these requirements. These simple activities capture the children’s attention, and encourage them to focus on what the teacher is saying or singing. Children practice following directions by copying the teacher’s movements, and singing along. And since fingerplays can involve a wide range of topics, they’re an effective tool for reinforcing vocabulary words.
Early childhood education research reveals that engaging a child’s senses is a pathway to learning. Fingerplays do much more than just capture an active child’s attention. They stimulate his or her auditory, visual, and tactile senses. Fingerplays are also a form of kinesthetic learning, as the students are encouraged to enjoy movement while participating in them.
Many preschool activities involve manipulating physical learning materials. Fingerplays are hands-on too, but in a different way. They encourage children to use their imagination to visualize the story expressed in the rhyme or song. For instance, the accompanying fingerplay to the Itsy Bitsy Spider rhyme uses innovative movements to mimic a spider climbing up the waterspout, and then being washed away by the rain.
At such a young age, children must work hard to master their fine motor skills. Even before they master the act of gripping a pencil, kids can build muscle strength in their hands and fingers, and hand-eye coordination by mimicking fingerplays. Some fingerplays also engage gross motor skills, such as by reaching the arms up over the head.
Consider learning some of the fingerplays your child is doing in school. One common example is the apple tree fingerplay. Here are the rhymes and their accompanying movements:
- Way up high in the apple tree (Point upward)
- Five red apples looked at me (Show five fingers)
- I shook that tree as hard as I could (Use both hands, pretend to shake a tree)
- Down came an apple (Wiggle fingers while moving the hands downward)
- Mmm, it was good (Rub your stomach)
You can then repeat the fingerplay with four, three, two, and one apple to start with.