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10 Finger Plays for Preschoolers and Toddlers

Try these awesome finger plays for preschool kids. They are not only fun but also great for development.

Here are 5 reasons fingerplay songs are a must for kids, followed by 10 of the best fingerplays for preschoolers and toddlers, with lyrics and videos.

There are more action songs, counting rhymes and fingerplays included in the Free Activity Pack below so don’t forget to sign up for that too!

Why Are Finger Plays Important for Child Development?

Fingerplays are an important part of a child’s early years. Children learn through play and this is a great way to stimulate your little ones’ brains.

Let’s take a quick look at how your kids are growing and learning when you do finger rhymes with them.

1. Listening Skills

Parents enjoy doing fingerplays with their babies and before they know it, their babies start listening intently and giggling away as they anticipate the words and actions. This is part of the early stage of developing listening skills.

As babies grow and develop they start learning to listen and pay attention, long before being able to speak or join in on the rhyme. They recognize sounds and words and remember parts that are humorous or have actions that make them laugh.

2. Vocabulary

In order to develop receptive and expressive language children need to be exposed to language in many formats and contexts. Listening to fingerplays is the perfect way for children to build their vocabulary and understanding of the structure of language.

3. Fine Motor Skills

Finger rhymes are one of the best ways to start developing your children’s fine motor skills. Fine motor refers to the small muscles of the body – such as the fingers and toes.

Babies, toddlers and preschoolers need lots of opportunities to build these small muscles. Without these, children will not develop the control to hold a pencil and write when they begin formal schooling.

A simple activity such as doing finger rhymes will therefore prepare children for learning to write in the grades.

4. Auditory Perception

The wonderful thing about play is how many formal learning skills are actually developed through it.

One example is learning to read. It may seem logical that children learn to read by learning the 26 letters of the alphabet but this is one of the last pieces of the puzzle.

One important pre-reading skill is developing auditory perception – the ability to hear, distinguish, remember, focus on and break up sound.

This is not built through memorizing letters, but through playing with sounds in ways such as listening to stories, singing songs and playing sound games – for several years before learning to read.

Listening to the rhyming patterns, sounds and words in fingerplays is just one way to prepare children for reading.

5. Cognitive Understanding

Listening to, memorizing, understanding, and predicting the next movement – all these are thought processes that stimulate a child’s cognitive development.

The more children are actively learning through play, the more their brains are expanding and becoming better at learning. Play is more important for brain development than any kind of formal activity.

These are just a few of the many benefits of learning finger rhymes.

10 Fun Finger Plays for Preschool Kids

Here are 10 fun, fabulous preschool fingerplay songs.

The lyrics are taken from Dr Jean Feldman’s collection and the book “Language and School Readiness”, written by Martie Pieterse. Some of the lyrics in the videos may differ slightly as there are often many variations of popular rhymes.

1. My Rabbit

My rabbit has two big ears,
(hold up two fingers to make ears)
And a funny little nose.
(join all fingers together into a pointy nose)
He likes to nibble carrots,
(make nibbling motions with fingers)
And he hops wherever he goes.
(make hopping movement with entire hand)

Rabbit holding a carrot

2. Grandmother’s Glasses

These are grandmother’s glasses,
(hold the fingers around the eyes in the shape of glasses)
And this is grandmother’s hat.
(make a hat shape with both hands above your head)
Grandmother clasps her hands like this,
(clasp hands together)
And folds them in her lap.
(fold hands in your lap)

Child holding hands in the shape of glasses

These are grandfather’s glasses,
(hold the fingers around the eyes in the shape of glasses)
And this is grandfather’s hat.
(make a hat shape with both hands above your head)
This is the way he folds his arms,
(fold arms)
And has a little nap.
(cock head to the side with eyes closed and pretend to sleep)

For this rhyme, use a high-pitched voice for the first verse (grandmother) and a deeper voice for the second verse (grandfather).

3. Two Little Dickey Birds

Two little dickey birds sitting on a wall,
(both index fingers in the air, wiggle both of them)
One named Peter,
(wiggle one index finger)
One named Paul.
(wiggle the other finger)
Fly away Peter,
(draw the hand with “the Peter finger” behind you and hide it)
Fly away Paul.
(draw the hand with “the Paul finger” behind you and hide it)
Come back Peter,
(bring the “Peter finger” back to the front)
Come back Paul.
(bring the “Paul finger” back to the front)

Here are some more fun animal songs for preschoolers.

4. Miss Polly Had a Dolly

Miss Polly had a dolly
Who was sick, sick, sick.
(cradle baby in arms and rock)
So she called for the doctor
To come quick, quick, quick.
(hold hand to ear to phone doctor)
The doctor came
With his bag and his hat.
(pretend to lift up bag and touch hat on head)
And he knocked on the door
With a rat-a-tat-tat.
(pretend to knock on the door)

He looked at the dolly
And he shook his head.
(shake head)
He said “Miss Polly
Put her straight to bed.”
(point finger )
He wrote on the paper
For a pill, pill, pill.
(pretend to write on your hand)
“I’ll be back in the morning
With the bill, bill, bill.”
(wave goodbye)

5. Here is the Beehive

Here is the beehive,
(clench fist)
Where are the bees?
(hold other hand out in gesture of wondering)
Hidden away where nobody sees.
(shake index finger of free hand)
Here they come flying out of their hive,
(point to clenched fist with index finger)
One, two, three, four, five.
(bring out fingers of clenched fist one at a time)

Bees flying around a beehive

Here is the beehive,
(clench fist)
Where are the bees?
(hold other hand out in gesture of wondering)
Flying around all the flowers and trees.
(open fist and wiggle fingers up in the air)
Soon they will come home from their fun,
(lower the wiggling fingers)
Five, four, three, two, one.
(bring fingers back into the clenched fist one at a time)

6. This Little Piggy

This little piggy went to market.
(hold up thumb)
This little piggy stayed home.
(hold up index finger)
This little piggy had roast beef.
(hold up middle finger)
This little piggy had none.
(hold up ring finger)
And this little piggy went “wee, wee, wee all the way home.”
(hold up baby finger and wiggle it)

Your children will probably already be familiar with this rhyme if you played it on their toes as a baby, but it also makes a good preschool fingerplay. They will enjoy doing it with their fingers instead.

Say the rhyme with the right hand, then the left hand, then try both at the same time. This is great for developing coordination.

7. Tommy Thumb

Tommy Thumb, Tommy Thumb,
Where are you?
(hold hands behind back)
Here I am!
(bring one thumb forward and wiggle it)
Here I am!
(bring the other thumb forward and wiggle it)
And how do you do?
(wiggle thumbs and bring them behind back again)

Repeat with Peter Pointer (index finger), Toby Tall (middle finger), Ruby Ring (ring finger), Baby Small (small finger) and then all the fingers.

Fingers all, fingers all,
Where are you?
(hold hands behind back)
Here we are!
(bring hand forward and wiggle fingers)
Here we are!
(bring other hand forward and wiggle fingers)
And how do you do?
(clap hands)

8. Here is my Garden

Here is my garden,
(hold out right hand, palm facing up)
I’ll rake it with care.
(make raking motion with fingers of left hand)
And then some seeds,
(pinch fingers together of left hand)
We’ll plant in there.
(pretend to plant the seeds onto the right hand)
The sun will shine,
(make the shape of the sun with two hands)
The rain will fall.
(wiggle fingers to make the motion of rain falling)
And then my garden will grow big and tall.
(push fingers of both hands together and upwards)

Image of a garden

9. Here is a Bunny

Here is a bunny,
(hold up two fingers)
With ears so funny.
(wiggle fingers up and down)
And here is his
Hole in the ground.
(make a hole with the fist of the other hand)
At the slightest noise he hears,
He pricks up his ears.
(wiggle fingers)
Then he hops to his
Hole in the ground.
(wiggle fingers into the hole in the fist)

10. Here is a Turtle

Here is a turtle.
(make a fist)
He lives in a shell.
He likes his home,
Very well.
When he gets hungry,
He comes out to eat.
(stick thumb out and wiggle it)
Then he goes back into
His house to sleep.
(put thumb back inside fist)

Turtle

I hope you love these fingerplays for toddlers and preschoolers.

Here are some great nursery rhymes about sleep to try out tonight!

10 finger plays for kids - pinnable image

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paulette

Sunday 5th of November 2023

iam so happy for these lovely songs,rhymes,and fingerplays thank you for your help they are very useful.

Tanja McIlroy

Friday 10th of November 2023

Glad you're enjoying them!

Naomi

Tuesday 26th of October 2021

Another version of Two Little Dicky Birds is Two Little Blackbirds Two little blackbirds sitting on a hill. One named Jack and the other named Jill. Fly away Jack; fly away Jill. Come back Jack; Come back Jill

Two little blackbirds sitting on a cloud. One named Soft and the other named Loud. Fly away Soft; fly away Loud Come back Soft; Come back Loud.

Two little blackbirds sitting on my toe. One named High and the other named Low. Fly away High; fly away Low. Come back High; Cme back Low.

Tanja Mcilroy

Thursday 28th of October 2021

I love this version! Thanks, Naomi.

Kay

Thursday 4th of February 2021

I have been teaching the 1st verse of Here is the beehive for many years, my groups will soon know the 2nd! What fun!

Tanja Mcilroy

Friday 5th of February 2021

Wonderful!

Camila

Tuesday 2nd of June 2020

I like your resourses!! Regards from Chile

mary

Tuesday 19th of January 2021

Thank you. I refer to your posts regularly and find them very helpful for teaching my children in a Junior ASD unit

Dammi Perera

Thursday 18th of June 2020

I love this resources very much. Thanks for your effort. Dammi from Sri Lanka.

Tanja Mcilroy

Wednesday 3rd of June 2020

Thank you Camila!

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