Teach Literacy Skills With Toddler Fingerplays

What Are Fingerplays?

Fingerplays are brief rhymes, stories or songs that use finger movements to help tell the story. Fingerplays are often repetitious, allowing children to quickly learn and remember the rhyme. Toddlers can then participate with their peers, enjoying literacy and developing language skills.

What Do Toddlers Learn Through Fingerplays?

Teach literacy skills with toddler fingerplays. Fingerplays encourage toddlers to explore language in a playful way that builds word skills and incorporates new vocabulary. Toddlers will also hear sounds presented in the words along with the rhythm of language. Fingerplays introduce rhyming words and poetry to children. The finger movements also encourage toddlers to develop fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination and listening comprehension skills.

How to Incorporate Toddler Fingerplays Into Your Daily Schedule

Experience Early Learning provides a new Fingerplay Poster each month in the Experience Toddler Curriculum. The rhymes follow a similar pattern each month of “5 Little ______” and count down to 1.

For example, from September 2022’s Family & Pet theme, the rhyme is 5 Empty Buckets, which coordinates with the Jack & Jill storybook.

5 Empty Buckets
5 empty buckets all in a row
Jack grabbed one and said, “Let’s go!”
Up he went with his best friend Jill
Carried the bucket to the well on the hill.

4 empty buckets, 3,2…1

The poster includes five Fingerplay pieces that can be cut apart. Use tape or hook and loop fasteners to attach the Fingerplay pieces to the wall or board. These Fingerplay pieces allow toddlers to interact with the Fingerplay rhyme and remove and hold the picture cards during the routine.

When facilitating large group routines for toddlers, remember to keep the routines short to keep toddlers’ attention. READ: Short and Sweet Circle Time For Toddlers

Begin your concept review segment with this song or fingerplay every day. Children will begin to memorize the song.

First, point to the poster and have the toddlers listen to you as you sing or chant the words to the fingerplay. Encourage children to listen to the words. Invite toddlers to come up to the Fingerplay Poster and remove a picture card while you recite the rhyme.

Some rhymes may be conducive to finger or hand movements as well, such as counting down by holding up 4 fingers. Take the opportunity to introduce them to children later in the month after they have learned the words of the rhyme.

Toddlers want to learn and imitate the activities and behavior of others and will attempt to imitate and recite the words and actions presented. Read more about fingerplays and action rhymes at EarlyLiteracyLearning.org.

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