Why You Should Use Finger Plays in your Classroom

Last week I had the opportunity to meet the AMAZING Dr Jean! She is an icon in early childhood education and an advocate for children everywhere. Please welcome as she guest blogs about Finger Play 101 with Dr Jean!


I want to thank Abigail for inviting me to be a guest blogger because I’ll get on my soap box every chance I get to keep finger plays alive! If I were in charge of early childhood, children would spend at least 5 minutes a day doing finger plays, and here are some reasons why:

Engaged – Doing a finger play is a natural way to engage children’s attention and help them focus.

Oral language – Repetition of finger plays builds oral language skills.

Auditory memory – Children activate their short-term memory as they memorize finger plays. Brain research suggests that memorizing poems and rhymes is actually good for the brain.

Comprehension – Most finger plays have a simple story plot for children to follow.

Imagination – With so much time spent in front of a screen, finger plays encourage children to make pictures in their brains.

Sequence – Remembering the sequence in finger plays can help children retell stories.

Phonological awareness – Finger plays build a foundation for rhyme, rhythm and alliteration.

Eye-hand coordination – Visual connections with finger plays are important for writing and reading.

Small motor skills – Doing finger plays is like sending the fingers to the gym to exercise.

Executive function – Children develop self-regulation and impulse control when they participate in finger plays. There is a beginning, middle, and end to the rhyme.

Social skills – All children can be successful with finger plays in this group experience.

State Standards – You got it! Speaking, listening, comprehension, phonological awareness all rolled into one!

Skills for the 21st Century – You’ve got those, too, with communication and cooperation.

Best of all, finger plays are FREE! They can be used to entertain children during transitions or any time you’ve got a minute or two.

Ring of Rhymes

Dr Jean Finger Plays

A good way to introduce finger plays would be to choose one each week and glue it to an index card. Frequently during the day invite the children to say the rhyme with you. At the end of the week punch a hole in it and put it on a book ring. In a few months you’ll have a whole ring full of rhymes your children can say.

Finger Play Juke Box

Dr Jean Juke Box

Decorate a gift bag to be a “Juke Box.” As you introduce finger plays glue them to CDs (4 ½ ” circles). When you’ve got extra time pretend to hand a child an imaginary quarter as you say, “Put your quarter in the juke box and pull out a finger play.” That child can then lead the class in saying the rhyme.

Watch Me!
If you go to my website (drjean.org) you can watch YouTube videos where I demonstrate the finger plays.

Remember! You add the magic! If you are dramatic and animated the children will catch your enthusiasm!

Come on! Together we can keep finger plays alive forever!!!


Do you know that Kindergarten Chaos offers personal development courses & workshops? I share my tried and true tips and ideas for teaching intentionally and with purpose and fun to the kids of TODAY!

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