The Importance of Fingerplays

The way you can measure a society’s soul is by the way that it treats its children.
Nelson Mandela

Issue No. 58 – 5th June 2008

Welcome to Kidz Newz especially to all new subscribers including those from the recent workshop at Curtin Uni in Perth. Kidz Newz is a regular newsletter with information and teaching tips for anyone involved with young children. You are receiving this because you have attended one of my workshops, purchased a book, or you have requested to be on the mailing list. Thank you. Please forward this to anyone you feel it may be of interest to.

Feedback is welcome.

PD Update

14 June Mandurah – Full day workshop. Register online at or email me for registration form – or phone 9325 1204 / 0410 642 781. Early bird until 9 June – save $11. All participants receive a product discount voucher for use on the day valued at $20.

28 June South Perth – 2 x half day workshops back to back with Heather Monro of Kids Music Company. Register online at or email me for registration form – or phone 9325 1204 / 0410 642 781. Early bird extended until 14 June – save $11. All participants receive a product discount voucher for use on the day valued at $20.

23-24 August ECCPA Conference Melbourne. For details and registration go to

The Importance of Fingerplays

Fingerplays, those little rhymes we loved as children which involve contorting our fingers (and often other body parts as well), are often overlooked as being unimportant by the very people who should be teaching them to young children. This is a great shame as they are extremely beneficial for many reasons, including social, physical and linguistic.

When working with a group of children, I always start my sessions with Fingerplays. They are lots of fun, they set the tone for what is to follow, and they establish control in the setting before we start on the other more vigorous activities. While having the children seated for the fingerplays, I can also teach them some songs and activities involving musical instruments.

Fingerplays are social activities because usually we do them as a group. At the very least there’s an interaction of an adult with at least one child. This is why it’s so good for parents at home to spend time with their child reciting these rhymes as it’s part of the bonding process.  From an emotional point of view, the child is rewarded by participating. Even when they don’t execute perfectly, they are usually unaware that that’s the case so avoid ‘correcting’ and concentrate on praising the participation because it’s the willingness to try that’s to be encouraged. In time the execution will improve.

Fingerplays develop fine-motor co-ordination as little brains have to figure out how to manipulate their somewhat clumsy fingers, making them do a mirror image of what you, the teacher, are demonstrating. So the brain is being programmed, laying down patterns of memory. At the same time the child is developing finger isolation and discrimination, sequential memory and body awareness.

The rhymes are simple and fun and introduce children to the natural rhythm of language. Recitation of rhymes and singing of songs should be a regular occurrence every day to encourage language development. When they incorporate crossing the midline of the body, they are also stimulating integration of the right and left sides of the brain.

All of the above – crossing the midline, reciting the rhymes, developing finger isolation and discrimination, along with sequential memory  ‘ are essentials when learning to play a musical instrument because to do so requires skills in all these areas.

It is interesting to note that since fine-motor co-ordination develops after gross-motor co-ordination, you really need the child to develop strong postural and upper body muscles too. Swinging on the monkey bars is perfect as it also involves the rhythmic swinging from bar to bar, but any normal childhood play, such as climbing and playing sports, will also help in this regard.

Let me encourage you to do these Fingerplays every day. These rhymes are part of our folklore, our children’s linguistic heritage. Language dies out when people simply stop using certain phrases or rhymes for whatever reason. Some traditions are too precious to be allowed to die out. Fingerplays in early childhood are a case in point.

Here’s an Old Favourite ‘

Grandma’s Glasses

Here are grandma’s glasses (pincer grip circle in front of eyes)                                             
Here is grandma’s hat (hands flat on head)                                                                           
This is the way she holds her hands                                                                                      
And puts them in her lap. (one hand sits on the other in lap)                                                  
Here are granddad’s glasses (whole hands make circles in front of eyes)                                    
Here is granddad’s hat (hands upwards on head ‘ top hat)                                                        
This is the way he holds his hands
When he takes a little nap. (palms together at side of face).

There are 18 fingerplays in the yellow Kidz-Fiz-Biz book and 14 in the green Multicultural book. They are all fun and easy to do. I recommend them all.

Quotes of the Week

Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I’ll remember, involve me and I’ll understand.             
(Source unknown) 

At 77 years old Mel Brooks said, “I’ve never let the child in me be subdued by the adult.”

The human mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original state.            
(Source unknown)


“Authorities in Wisconsin are searching for the owner of a kangaroo after it was caught walking around outside in the frigid weather. That’s got to be frustrating for the kangaroo. Walking around in freezing weather, knowing you have a pocket, but your hands are too short to put them in it.” Jay Leno

From Dennis Moore’s ‘Circus of Life’ newsletter.  (


Some comments from the recent PD at Curtin Uni ‘

What was the most useful thing you learned today?

‘The tapping sticks, rhymes and songs.’                                                                               
‘The availability of resources.’                                                                                               
‘So many great ideas for activities.’

About The Author

Marlene Rattigan B.A., Dip. Ed. (ECS), CELTA

Marlene Rattigan is an Early Childhood teacher, a teacher of English as a Second Language, and from 1987-2000 was a nationally accredited fitness leader. Her background is in music education. A keen interest in motor development in children led to the creation of Kidz-Fiz-Biz which she taught successfully for 13 years. Marlene also conducts workshops for children, teachers and parents at schools, in the community and at festivals. She has produced teaching manuals complete with audio CDs which are an extension of her ‘Kidz-Fiz-Biz’ program.

PO Box 6894, East Perth WA 6892, Australia
T: +61 8 9325 1204 M: +61 (0) 410 64 2781 E:

Enjoying Kidz Newz?

Perhaps a friend or colleague would enjoy it too!  Add their contact address and click “Forward”. (Be sure to include this entire message, including the subscription details) By doing this you will help us grow.

Looking for lots of ideas? Visit the Kidz Newz archive where you will find back issues of Kidz Newz.  Click on

Until next time – continue being a legend in your classroom.

Marlene Rattigan, Editor
Kidz Newz

If you would like to stop receiving these advices you can manage your subscription by following the instructions below.

We have your email address as %%EMAIL%%.

If you do not wish to receive any further editions of this email bulletin then please Click on the link below to CANCEL your subscription or EDIT your details:

Item added to cart.
0 items - $0.00