Click here for info about Camp Kindergarten 2008



Rhyme in the New Year!
January, 2008 -

Where have all the finger plays gone? They used to be an integral part of early childhood classrooms; I couldn’t have gotten through a day without using a finger rhyme to focus children’s attention or entertain them during a transition. But today they have been overshadowed by computers and workbooks.

It’s amazing that children today are just as mesmerized by finger plays as I was as a little girl half a century ago. I can still remember “Here Are Grandma’s Glasses” that Mrs. Meyers taught me my first day of kindergarten, and now as I share these rhymes with my grandson I am reminded of the joy children get from simple things like finger stories. Though I’ve done “Where Is Thumbkin?” thousands of times, it’s NEW to him. The magic is still there as he dances his thumbs behind his back.

As our society grows more and more fascinated by computer games and i-pods, we seem to be losing touch with these simple gifts. I’m afraid these gems will be lost if I don’t write them down and pass them on to you!

WHY? Television is passive and computers only activate a small portion of the brain. You’ll find these finger plays much more engaging than any video or worksheet. You’ll almost be able to see the synapses in your children’s brains fire as they try to model the motions and chant along. Besides the personal satisfaction that comes from using these finger plays, they clearly relate to many early childhood skills and state standards. Here are just a few benefits of using finger plays daily with children:

   Language Skills
       Oral language
       Auditory memory
       Phonological awareness (alliteration, rhythm, rhyme)
    Math Concepts
   Motor Skills
       Eye-hand coordination
       Small muscle development
   Social Skills
       Following directions

These finger plays are free, fun and GREEN! Can’t get much better than that!

HOW?   Choose one new finger play each week to introduce in your classroom. Write it on a poster or large table.

Make a copy and glue it on an index card. Punch a hole and save on a book ring and soon you’ll have a “ring of rhymes.”

Book of Rings
Click for larger image

Create a class book of finger plays by having children illustrate their favorites.

Send home copies of finger plays so parents can enjoy them with their children.

Practice saying the rhyme to yourself so it will be familiar when you teach it to your students. Let your eyes, facial expression, body language, and enthusiasm capture your children’s interest.

Say the rhyme several times so children will feel more confident and comfortable saying it. Children LOVE exaggeration, so vary how you say the rhymes. You could do pirate style (talk out of the side of your mouth), monster style (talk with a loud, deep voice), mouse style (talk with a high squeaky voice), or take on the persona of a character in the rhyme, like the alligator or daddy duck.

Remember, if you’re enjoying yourself, the children will probably reflect your happiness!

WHEN? Finger plays are perfect for engaging children’s attention before a story or lesson. Their eyes, hands, and minds will calm down as they participate with their classmates. The rhymes are also a useful way to pass time when you have a few extra minutes or are waiting for friends to clean up or wash their hands.

January Downloads This month you will find some fantastic printables from Martha Shehan in Colorado. The homework calendar, family project, and nightly reading record sheet are wonderful ways to get families involved in the New Year.

Also, check out the photos and description of a Listen/Learn Center on the last page of this month's activities.

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Click here for info about Camp Kindergarten