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Children playing This Little Pig.[1]

Fingerplay, commonly seen in toddlerhood and early childhood, is hand action or movement combined with singing or spoken-words to engage the child's interest. According to Erikson, many toddlers develop autonomy and "want to learn and imitate the activities and behavior of others." According to Wong's Essentials of Pediatric Nursing, "gestures precedes speech and in this way a small child communicates satisfactorily."[2] From the ages three to four children become active listeners and can control their eyes, body, and attention on the teacher.[3]

Some chants or common rhymes that incorporate fingerplay include "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and "Peek-a-boo I See You". The article entitled, "Fingerplay Fun" explains fingerplay as a form of chants or songs to gather the child's attention.[4] Reciting chants or stories "help him develop an ear for sounds and discover that sounds can be manipulated and changed".[3] An example of fingerplay, "Five Little Monkeys":

Five little monkeys (five fingers)
Jumping on the bed - (rest elbow on other hand, jump arm up and down)
One fell off, (hold up one finger, bring down as if falling)
And bumped his head! (hand to head)

A fingerplay is a nursery rhyme for very young children that uses hand movements coordinated with words to engage and sustain children's interest. Fingerplays can be in the form of little songs or chants. Typical examples would be the "Itsy Bitsy Spider", "Round and round the garden", or "This Little Piggy". Preschool teachers use fingerplays to introduce poetry to children and introduce new concepts. They can also help children develop such skills as fine motor co-ordination and following directions.[5]


  1. ^ Wentworth. Work and Play with Numbers. p. 14. 
  2. ^ Hockenberry, Marilyn (2005). Essentials of Pediatric Nursing. Elsevier. pp. 87–88. 
  3. ^ a b Miller, S (2001). "Getting Silly With Sounds". Scholastic Parent & Child 9 (2): 29. 
  4. ^ Church, E. (2001). Fingerplay Fun!. Early Childhood Today, 16(1), 60-61
  5. ^ Curtis, Kathleen A., DeCelle-Newman, Peggy (2004-12-14). The PTA handbook: keys to success in school and Career for the Physical Therapist Assistant. Slack Incorporated. Retrieved 2010-07-27. 
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