Ages: All ages
You know that young children’s learning is a hands-on experience – but do you know how easy it is to use your own hands (when they’re not full!) to entertain and connect?
CCRI’s Early Learning Team recommends finger games and hand clapping games as a fun way to help your child build gross and fine motor skills, reinforce memory and recall, develop reading and writing skills, and connect with children of all ages.
- Build gross and fine motor skills — movement and control of both large and small muscles are important developmental milestones.
- Reinforce memory and recall — rhythm, repetition, and body movements strengthen memory pathways.
- Develop reading and writing skills — exposure to sounds, words, and rules of language build vocabulary, while development of fine motor skills supports pencil grasp.
- Connect with children of all ages
Your baby’s favorite “toy” is YOU. Games such as This Little Piggy Went to Market give your baby a chance to:
- bond with a family member or caregiver
- develop body awareness
- hear sounds and words that build vocabulary
- practice motor planning
> Motor planning is how the brain and muscles work together to plan a movement. Early activities such as clasping hands together, sitting, and crawling all require motor planning.
Pro Tip: Teach an older child to play finger games with an infant sibling. This is a great way to encourage interaction. Watch as this big brother plays with his new baby brother.
As your baby’s language and motor skills develop, the brain strengthens the pathways used to learn increasingly more difficult skills as a toddler. Children as young as 2 can begin to learn the most basic clapping games such as Patty Cake, which helps develop bi-lateral coordination.
----> When we use both sides of the body to complete a task such as opening a snack or tying our shoes, we are using bi-lateral coordination.
PRESCHOOL AND SCHOOL-AGE GAMES
Songs for preschool and school-age children become harder and the clapping patterns more intricate. Clapping games like Miss Mary Mack follow a familiar sound pattern with more complicated hand motions. They can be simplified for younger children or made more complicated by adding hand motions or speeding up the rhythm.
Clapping games when hands cross the body help children practice crossing the midline, an imaginary line dividing our body into the left and right sides.
-----> The ability to cross the midline is demonstrated by reaching across the body using both arms and legs. Crossing the midline affects handwriting and reading as well as gross motor skills such as swinging a bat.