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Fun with Finger Plays! What Children are Learning with Simple Songs and Rhymes

June 5, 2021

In Urdu Family Time, Amna played a video singing “Chota Say Makora Darakt pay char gaya.” She followed this with a finger play about an ant that climbed up different parts of her body. Finger plays are a short poem, chant or song that often rhymes and is paired with different actions. A finger play combines body movements along with words and actions to provide a rich learning experience. Here are some ways children learn with finger plays!

Sing along with Amna here:

Why use Finger Plays?

Finger plays pair language with actions which helps children to attach meaning to words.

For example, when the Itsy Bitsy Spider gets washed out by the rain, the sweeping movements of your arms and hands shows the children what it means to be “washed out”. Changing the way you describe the spider also helps children to associate words and their meanings. The ‘great big spider’ requires great big arm movements and the ‘teeny tiny spider’ uses just your finger tips.

Finger plays help children to use and develop their big and small muscles

This happens as children isolate or use different parts of their body to mimic the actions of the song/rhyme. When the 5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed fall off and bump their heads, the children go from jumping to pointing to making a phone out of their hand. Transitioning quickly from one movement to the next requires a lot of muscle control and coordination.

Finger plays help children build their reading skills

Early reading skills are developed through the repetition of the lyrics and rhymes as children can predict what words are coming next. Memorization, word patterns and rhythm are all important parts of this finger play. In the song Roly Poly children can easily predict the next words and even create their own variation of the song! Try changing it up by adding new words like loud and soft, fast and slow, or front and back.

Finger Plays and Language Development

Finger plays, songs, stories and rhymes in any language are a great way to have fun and explore language and movement. When you hear the a song in a language you don’t speak, you may not know the words exactly, but the rhythm, tunes, and actions help you to identify what the song is about. This is a great way to incorporate different languages into your home, and maybe even learn some new words along the way!


Does your child have a favourite finger play? Share it with our staff in one of our online programs!

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We are also offering online family programs every day of the week via Zoom—find a program that fits your routine! We offer some programs with ASL interpretation and others in French, Mandarin, Punjabi, and Urdu. Find out more on our Schedules page!