Dr. B (AKA my sister) has a doctorate in school psychology specializing in early childhood development. She is helping us figure out what the hell to do with our babies. Especially if you’re like me and intelligent baby game ideas aren’t a naturally occurring thing. Today Dr. B is telling us the importance of singing songs that involve finger play. And the imprtance of singing these songs over and over and over again. And once you think you’ve sung them enough, sing them five more times, drink a glass of water, and then fifteen more. Mazzy turned eleven months yesterday and it really is exciting to watch her start to make some of the hand gestures I have been doing for months. I would also like to give a quick shout-out to the glove pictured above that I just discovered on Amazon because it’s about to save me hours of lost time racing aorund the house looking for random farm animal representation every time Old MacDonald comes on Pandora’s Kid Channel. OK, Dr. B, carry on.
Introduce at: 4 months
How to play: Sing songs that use finger plays like Itsy Bitsy Spider, Where is Thumbkin?, Open Shut Them, and Five Little Monkeys while demonstrating the actions as you sing the words. As your child grows, encourage him/her to imitate your actions by teaching one movement at a time and using hand over hand assistance. Introduce songs one at a time as well and repeat the same fingerplays often and slowly so that your child will become familiar with them and can easily follow along. Celebrate and praise each of your child’s successful attempts to imitate the movements or words in the song.
Why its good for the baby: Fingerplays are a fun and engaging way to help your child develop his/her vocabulary, expressive and receptive language, and memory for sequenced actions and words. Your child will also learn how to listen carefully and follow directions. Hand movements provide a fun way to increase manual dexterity and fine muscle control, which are both important for drawing and writing. Exposing your child to the rhythms in the songs facilitates the development of early phonemic awareness, which is an important pre-reading skill. In addition, fingerplays that involve counting and numbers help develop early numeracy skills such as number order and one to one correspondence.