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Fingerplays for Children

Updated on July 22, 2015
Virginia Allain profile image

A librarian through and through, Virginia Allain writes about book topics, researching, and information for library users and librarians.

Photo of me in the children's section of my library. Storytimes were very popular there.
Photo of me in the children's section of my library. Storytimes were very popular there. | Source

Take Your Preschooler to Library Storytimes

Preschool children benefit greatly from attending storytimes at the public library. These free programs introduce them to the world of books while learning songs and nursery rhymes to develop their vocabulary. At the same time, the children learn to interact with other children in a group and follow the directions of the leader (the librarian).

The parent can extend the benefits from the storytime in several ways. Make the trip to the library a fun outing and bring home a stack of books to continue reading to the child. Learn some fingerplays and use them frequently with the child. These help with manual dexterity and language development.

Here are some popular fingerplays and activity songs to use with your child.

Use an Action Song so the Children Can Stretch Between Stories

Children at my storytime back in the 1970s. Here the children are doing the "turn around and sit back down" activity.
Children at my storytime back in the 1970s. Here the children are doing the "turn around and sit back down" activity. | Source

What to Expect at Storytime - at the library

Some Bookstores Have Children's Storytimes Now

Your Child Will Love the Five Little Monkeys

Learn Lots of Fingerplays and Action Rhymes to Entertain Young Children

The Eentsy, Weentsy Spider: Fingerplays and Action Rhymes
The Eentsy, Weentsy Spider: Fingerplays and Action Rhymes

You probably know the Eentsy Weentsy Spider already, but you'll learn lots of new ones from this book.


Video of Hand Play

Miss Nancy Shares Fingerplays, Rhymes and Songs

Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes - Action Game for Storytime

This one has the repetition that young children like. By going faster and faster it keeps them engaged and moving.

Use this as a stretching activity between stories. The action song is demonstrated in the video below.

Three, four and five year olds have trouble sitting still for very long. I always intersperse an action song like this one or a fingerplay between each story at storytime.

Books Filled with Fingerplays

If you can't remember all the words to the fingerplays that you learned as a toddler, you'll find them in these books. There are new ones as well to learn and share with your little one.

More Than 700 Rhymes and Songs and Fingerplays

The Complete Book and CD Set of Rhymes, Songs, Poems, Fingerplays, and Chants (Complete Book Series)
The Complete Book and CD Set of Rhymes, Songs, Poems, Fingerplays, and Chants (Complete Book Series)

Anyone working with children will be glad to have this to expand their selection of rhymes in storytime. Great for teachers, librarians and parents.

Don't you love how their faces brighten up as they participate in storytime activities!
Don't you love how their faces brighten up as they participate in storytime activities! | Source

A Rhyme to Settle Down a Group

It is called "My Hands"

My hands upon my head I place

On my shoulders, on my face

On my hips I place them, so.

Now I raise them up so high

Make my fingers fairly fly

Now I clap them, 1, 2, 3

Then I fold them silently

(add matching action to each line)

When children in a group get restless, this can pull them all back into a coordinated activity that ends with quiet. That's a good time to launch into another story.

Learn Several Fingerplays with This Video

This includes the Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed fingerplay.


Buttons or keyrings available from Zazzle
I Love Storytime T-Shirts & Gifts by konceptskids

Great Music for Storytimes on eBay

I loved using Hap Palmers music with storytimes. They all have action to go with them and are easy to sing along with. Many of his albums are no longer available, so I looked around on eBay and you can still find them there.

A Hap Palmer Song on YouTube - to give you an idea of his action songs

This one doesn't have vocals to instruct the children on what to do. I would have them move to the music. When it was light and airy, I'd tell them to move like a fairy or a butterfly. When the music turned heavy, I'd tell them to walk like a monster. Little kids loved this. The one sound is good for tip-toeing.

Hap Palmer - The Haunted House Tune

Finger Puppets to Use with Fingerplays or Stories

The great thing about finger puppets is you don't need a stage. They are easy to store away compactly too.

Best of all, children respond eagerly to the miniature figures that you animate by moving your fingers and using your voice to tell the story.

Cardboard Color Your Own Zoo Animal Masks
Cardboard Color Your Own Zoo Animal Masks

The variety here will suit a number of stories and fingerplays to liven up story time at the library, nursery school or at home.

Storytime Old McDonald Finger Puppet Boxed Set
Storytime Old McDonald Finger Puppet Boxed Set

Get everyone singing along with Old McDonald.


© 2010 Virginia Allain

What's Your Favorite Fingerplay?

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    • gottaloveit2 profile image


      5 years ago

      Story time was my favorite time in school. I remember my Mom reading to me at night too.

    • Camden1 profile image


      6 years ago

      My kids and I used to love storytime at the library! My favorite fingerplay is "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" which I used to act out on the kids' backs - it always made them giggle.

    • annieangel1 profile image


      8 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      great lens, looks like fun of grown ups too

    • profile image

      Donnette Davis 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      what a beautiful lens! I try to incorporate fingerplays or action rhymes into my unit studies :)

    • efriedman profile image


      8 years ago

      Great ideas to involve children with stories and with activities through finger play and finger puppets.

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 

      8 years ago from Land of Aloha

      I love the idea of finger puppets for children. There are some fun songs here to go with them.

    • phoenix arizona f profile image

      phoenix arizona f 

      8 years ago

      Great idea for kids.

    • Craftymarie profile image


      8 years ago

      Some great information here. Our library does storytime and singing but no fingerplays. That's a good idea so I will suggest it to them.

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 

      8 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      My grandkids love story time at the library. Such a great service they offer.

    • ChrissLJ profile image


      8 years ago

      Learning Station's version of Tony Chestnut's the action song I can't get out of my head lately. Oh, and the Mother Goose Rocks's version of Baby Bumblebee. Ever had children Mosh Pit in the middle of storytime? Quite. A. Sight!

    • LizMac60 profile image

      Liz Mackay 

      8 years ago from United Kingdom

      Great lens with lovely ideas for story telling to children. Blessed by a squid angel and featured on Me?!! A Squid Angel on the Libraries and used books page.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I like it. gives me new idea to tell stories to my nephew. lens roll it.

    • Virginia Allain profile imageAUTHOR

      Virginia Allain 

      8 years ago from Central Florida

      @OhMe: That's my sister's favorite too. I'm off to visit your lenses.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      8 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Oh Me! I have so many Fingerplay songs that I am not sure which one is my favorite. I do like "I Had A Little Turtle" and many, many more. I loved this lens. Lensrolled to my Acronyms, Rhymes and Songs to Learn Facts. My favorite Action Song is "Do Your Ears Hang Low".


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