Early Literacy Activity: Fingerplays

What are Fingerplays?

Fingerplays incorporate simple actions into songs or rhymes and are used to engage your child’s interest. Children learn by imitating actions of others, especially their parents.

Why are Fingerplays Beneficial?

These games help children learn new words, by helping them master the different sounds in the rhyme. The best fingerplays for infants are ones that are short, repetitive, and about something that will capture their interests.



Examples of Infant Fingerplays:

Baby’s Eyes

Blue-eyed babies (Point to your eye).

Brown-eyed, too. (Point to your other eye).

Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake (Clap your hands).

I see you. (Cover your eyes and uncover).


Hickory Dickory Dock

Hickory dickory dock,

(Touch your baby’s toes, knees, hips)

The mouse ran up the clock.

(Tickle up his body)

The clock struck one,

(Touch his nose)

The mouse ran down,

(Tickle down his body)

Hickory dickory dock.

(Touch his toes, knees and hips)


Baby’s Fingers

These are Baby’s fingers. (Touch the baby’s fingers.)

These are Baby’s toes. (Touch the baby’s toes.)

This is Baby’s belly button. (Touch the baby’s stomach.)

Round and round it goes! (Gently circle belly button.)


Examples of Preschool Fingerplays:

Do Your Ears Hang Low?

Do your ears hang low? (Circle hands down from each ear)

Do they wobble to and fro? (Sway hands from side to side)

Can you tie them in a knot? (Make knot-tying actions)

Can you tie them in a bow? (Make bow-tying actions)

Can you throw them over your shoulder (Toss them over one shoulder)

Like a continental soldier? (Salute/march)

Do your ears hang low?


Where Is Thumbkin?

(Start with hands behind back.)

Where is Thumbkin? Where is Thumbkin?

Here I am. (Bring right hand to front, with thumb up.)

Here I am. (Bring left hand to front, with thumb up.)

How are you today, sir?

Very well, I thank you. (Wiggle thumbs as if they’re ‘talking’ together.)

Run away. (Hide right hand behind back.)

Run away. (Hide left hand behind back.)

(Repeat rhyme with each finger: Pointer, Middle, Ring Finger, and Pinkie.)


Fingerplays are beneficial to children of all ages. They help children develop their fine motor skills. Most preschools and kindergarten classes incorporate fingerplays into their curriculum.



The Handley Regional Library offers the 1000 Books before Kindergarten program. Although 1,000 books seems like a huge number, if you read one book a day (or the same book day after day) you could finish in less than three years. With ten books a week, you will be done in less than two years! For more information, visit a Youth Services Desk at any branch.



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