Finger Rhymes

During different trainings and Communities of Practice we are hearing that providers do not have knowledge of a variety of finger rhymes to use with children as part of their program.

Finger rhymes, also known as finger plays or action rhymes, are something that needs to be shared to find their way across the generations. They are a musical language that is important to young children to have exposure to on a regular basis. These rhymes reflect a child’s world. They are about mealtime, families, rain, flowers and animals. They provide a natural opportunity to learn about left and right, up and down and head to toe body parts. This language and topics make it easy for children to both say and remember the rhymes. The actions add fun and pull children into the rhymes.

Think of how the Maine Early Learning Development Standards (MELDS) are supported by finger rhymes ~

  • Fine and gross motor muscles
  • Improve balance and coordination
  • Encourage creativity and imagination
  • Grow language and communication skills
  • Interact socially, practice cooperation and turn taking skills
  • Support brain development and sensory connections
  • Build a stronger sense of belonging, identity and inclusion
  • Participate in and understand routines and transitions
  • Learn about diversity, new ideas and concepts
  • Learn about variety of academic concepts such as: color, counting, body parts

While we will provide some movement directions, don’t be afraid to explore other movements that seem better suited for your children.

If you are looking for even more resources around finger plays be sure to check out FCCAM Pinterest Fingerplays Board in Art, Music & Dramatic Play – Creative Arts

Ten in the Bed

  • There were ten in the bed, and the little one said, “Roll over! Roll over!
  • Action: Have both hand up, palms facing out and fingers spread. Wiggle one little finger for “Roll over……”.
  • So they all rolled over, and one fell out.
  • Action: hands into fists and roll fists around each other (just in front at chest height)
  • There were nine in the bed, and the little one said. “Roll over! Roll over!”
  • Action: Have both hand up, palms facing out and fingers spread with one finger bend into palm, so only 9 fingers are straight up. Wiggle same little finger as started with for “Roll over……”.
  • So they all rolled over, and one fell out. ………………
  • Action: hands into fists and roll fists around each other (just in front at chest height)
  • The rhyme continues counting down until …… Actions will continue with additional finger being bent into palm until have just the little finger you were wiggling all along left.
  • There was one in the bed, and the little one said, “Good night!”
  • Action: bend last little finger into palm.

OpeN, Shut Them

  • Open, shut them.
  • Open, shut them.
  • Give a little clap.
  • Open, shut them.
  • Open, shut them.
  • Place them in your lap.
  • Creep them, creep them. Creep them, creep them.
  • Right up to your chin. Open up your little mouth.
  • But do not let them in.
  • Action for this finger rhyme is all hands. Start with both hands up in front of you about 1 foot from your chin, with palms facing you. “Open” means fingers straight up. “Shut” means to roll fingers down to palms to make fists. “Clap” means clap hands together. “Place in lap” means place hands palms down in your lap. “Creep” means wiggle fingers slowly up your front from lap to chin. Open your mouth and then quickly slide hands down to sides and hide behind your back.

If You’re Happy and You Know It

  • If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.
  • If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.
  • If you’re happy and you know it, and you really want to show it,
  • If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.
  • Continue with other actions following the same verses: stamp your feet, touch your knees, nod your head, etc.
  • Actions: Follow the actions directed. Ideal timing is to do a double action – 2 clapps, 2 stamps, etc.

The Beehive

  • Here is the beehive.
  • Action: Make a fist with thumb inside fingers. Hold a fist out in front of you with thumb joint to ceiling and palm facing a wall. That’s your beehive.
  • Where are the bees?
  • Hidden away where nobody sees.
  • Watch as they come out of their hive –
  • Action as count: open up/stick up one finger at a time with thumb last.
  • One, Two, Three, Four, Five!
  • Action: wiggle fingers
  • They’re alive! BZZZZZZZ!

Where is Thumbkin?

  • Where is Thumbkin? Where is Thumbkin?
  • Action: Start with hands behind the back.
  • Here I am!
  • Action: bring one hand around in front of you with thumb up and other fingers fisted.
  • Here I am!
  • Action: bring the other hand around in front of you with thumb up and other fingers fisted.
  • How are you today, sir?
  • Action: wiggle one thumb as if talking to the other thumb.
  • Very well, I thank you.
  • Action: wiggle other thumb as if talking back to the other thumb.
  • Run away, Run away.
  • Action: move one hand around behind you. Then move the other behind also.
  • to continue follow same actions for each of the individual fingers starting with the finger closest to the thumb. Substitute name for each finger (“Pointer”, “Tall Man”, “Ring Man”, “Small Man”) for “Thumbkin”.

Rain

  • Pitter-pat, pitter pat, the rain goes on for hours. And though it keeps me in the house,
  • Action: sitting drum fingers on the floor/ground
  • It’s very
  • Action: hands in front of you, closed fist with palm up
  • good for
  • Action: open fingers out, palms up
  • flowers.
  • Action: raise hands up slightly, cupping fingers to represent flowers blooming

Clap Your Hands

  • Clap your hands, clap your hands, clap them just like me.
  • Touch your shoulders, touch your shoulders, touch them just like me.
  • Tap your knees, tap your knees, tap them just like me.
  • Shake your head, shake your head, shake it just like me.
  • Clap your hands, clap your hands.
  • Now let them quiet be.
  • Actions for this finger play are clear through the direction of the words. The last action of quiet is placing hands in lap and being still. This finger play also allows you to add other body parts, or delete an action/body part to meet the age of children and the purpose you are using this finger play for.

The Itsy, Bitsy (or Eensy, Weensy or Incy, Wincy) Spider

This finger play can be done with multiple rhyming word choices. What you decided to use will probably depend on how you learned it or what version of the book you have. It is also helpful tobe sure children understand what a waterspout is before doing this finger play.

  • The itsy, bitsy spider climbed (or went) up the waterspout.
  • Action: wiggle and twist fingers, so look like spider legs and raise hands from lap up to over head.
  • Down came the rain and washed the spider out.
  • Action: lower hands together and end with a swishing motion in one direction. Quickly lowering helps with the swish idea.
  • Out came the sun and dried up all the rain.
  • Action: raise hands up to overhead so get a circle (sun shape). Then spread hands apart as lower (rainbow arch shape)
  • So the itsy, bitsy spider climbed (or went) up the spout again.
  • Action: wiggle and twist fingers, so look like spider legs and raise hands from lap up to over head.

There Was a Little Turtle

  • There was a little turtle
  • Action: Make a fist with thumb sticking out
  • Who lived in a box.
  • Action: Cup hands together for a box
  • He swam in the puddles
  • Action: Wiggle hand for swimming
  • And climbed on the rocks.
  • Action: Fingers climb up other fist
  • He snapped at the mosquito,
  • Action: Snap fingers or pinch thumb and pointer finger together
  • He snapped at the flea.
  • Action: Snap fingers or pinch thumb and pointer finger together
  • He snapped at the minnow,
  • Action: Snap fingers or pinch thumb and pointer finger together
  • And he snapped at me!
  • Action: Snap fingers or pinch thumb and pointer finger together
  • He caught the mosquito,
  • Action: clap and make “gulp” sound
  • He caught the flea.
  • Action: clap and make “gulp” sound
  • He caught the minnow,
  • Action: clap and make “gulp” sound
  • But he didn’t catch me!
  • Action: Wag pointer finger back and forth in front of your face

Two Blackbirds

  • There were two blackbirds sitting on a hill –
  • Action: two pointer fingers are pointing out and placed down on your lap
  • One named Jack, the other named Jill.
  • Action: tap or wiggle one of the fingers. Then tap or wiggle the other.
  • Fly away, Jack.
  • Action: Move one hand up and behind your head.
  • Fly away, Jill.
  • Action: Move other hand up and behind your head.
  • Come back, Jack!
  • Action: Move first hand back to your lap.
  • Come back, Jill!
  • Action: Move remaining hand back to your lap.

Grandma’s Spectacles

Be sure children know what “spectacles” are. You can also change out “Grandma’s” to such as: teacher’s, children names, mother’s, another term for grandma, etc.

  • These are Grandma’s spectacles,
  • Action: thumb to point on each hand to make circular shape and touching thses two shapes together makes glasses.
  • This is Grandma’s hat.
  • Action: hands to top of head with fingers touching to make a triangle shape
  • This is the way she folds her hands
  • Action: fold hands together
  • And lays them in her lap.
  • Action: place folded hands in lap

Five Little Pigs

Use 1 hand for each action and other hand touches each finger as go through

  • This little pig went to market.
  • Action: thumb is touched
  • This little pig stayed home.
  • Action: pointer finger is touched
  • This little pig had roast beef.
  • Action: middle finger (tall man) is touched
  • This little pig had none.
  • Action: ring finger is touched
  • This little pig cried “Wee, wee, wee!”
  • Action: little finger is touched
  • All the way home.

Ten Little Firefighters

  • Ten little firefighters sleeping in a row.
  • Action: 2 fists with palms up in lap (fingers are curled in to palms)
  • Ding, ding goes the bell,
  • Action: one hand up start high and pull down in ringing bell motion
  • And down the pole they go.
  • Action: 2 hands up one under the other start up high and in sliding motion move them down
  • Off on the engine, oh, oh, oh.
  • Action: hands in front in driving motion, move left/right/left
  • Using the big hose, so , so, so.
  • Action: two hands in front of your one behind the other as holding a hose. Move left to right to left.
  • When all the fire’s out, home so slow.
  • Action: hands in front in driving motion, move left/right/left
  • Back into bed, all in a row.
  • Action: 2 fists with palms up in lap (fingers are curled in to palms)

On My Head

The Actions for this finger play are very clear – just follow the directions as you work through the finger play.

  • On my head my hands I place.
  • On my shoulders,
  • On my face,
  • On my hips,
  • And at my side,
  • Then behind me they will hide.
  • I will hold them up so high,
  • Quickly make my fingers fly,
  • Hold them out in front of me,
  • Swiftly clap them – one, two, three.

This Old Man

  • This old man, he played one.
  • Action: one hand fisted with thumb pointing up
  • He played knick-knack on his thumb.
  • Action: tap thumbs together
  • Chorus:
  • With a knick-knack,
  • Action:tap knees
  • Paddy-whack,
  • Action: clap hands
  • Give his dog a bone.
  • Action: throw the bone over your shoulder
  • This old man came rolling home.
  • Action: hands in fists twirl around each other for rolling motion

Additional verses: start with showing correct number of fingers

  • This old man he played two.
  • He played knick-knack on his shoe.
  • ………
  • three… on his knee /action: touch knee
  • four… on his door /action: pretend to knock on door
  • five… on his hive /action: fist one hand and tap on it with other hand
  • six… on two sticks /action: tap index (pointer) fingers
  • seven… up to heaven /action: point up
  • eight… on his gate /action: one hand fingers out flat to form gate and tap with other hand
  • nine… on his spine /action: tap spine
  • ten… once again /action: clap hands

The Hammer Song

This rhyme can be done sitting or standing. The motions are slightly different, but there is a lot of action either way. You can easily change out the name from Jenny to relate to the children better.

  • Jenny works with one hammer, one hammer, one hammer. Jenny works with one hammer. Then she works with two.
  • Action: take one fisted hand and pound it on the floor while saying the rhyme. Get ready to add the second hand – fisted.
  • Jenny works with two hammers, two hammers, two hammers. Jenny works with two hammers. Then she works with three.
  • Action: Both fisted hands are pounding on the floor. For the third hammer you will add in a foot. If standing you will now just do a pounding motion with the fists and stamp the foot.
  • Jenny works with three hammers, three hammers, three hammers. Jenny works with three hammers. Then she works with four.
  • Action: Add your other foot. If seated you are now pounding fists and feet on the floor all together. If standing you will be jumping with fists in motion.
  • Jenny works with four hammers, four hammers, four hammers. Jenny works with four hammers. Then she works with five.
  • Action: Add your head. If seated you are now pounding fists and feet on the floor all together and nodding your head. If standing you will be jumping with fists in motion and nodding head.
  • Then she goes to sleep!
  • Action: claps hands and place along one side of face and lean to that side as if sleep.

Up to the Ceiling

  • Up to the ceiling,
  • Action:raise hands to the ceiling
  • Down to the floor.
  • Action: lower hands to touch the floor
  • Left to the window, (change out to an item on the left)
  • Action: point left hand to item labeled
  • Right to the door. (change out to an item on the right)
  • Action: point right hand to item labeled
  • This is my right hand – Raise it up high.
  • Action: raise right hand to ceiling, keep it raised
  • This is my left hand – Reach for the sky.
  • Action: raise left hand to ceiling, keep them raised
  • Right hand, left hand, twirl them around.
  • Action: bring hands down to in front of you twirls them around each other
  • Left hand, right hand, pound, pound, pound.
  • Action: pound hands together. Easiest if fists are stacked on each other.

Great Big Ball

  • A great big ball,
  • Action: hands in front of you as if holding a big ball
  • A middle-sized ball,
  • Action: hands in front of you as if holding a middle-size/medium size ball
  • A little ball I see.
  • Action: hands in front of you as if holding a small ball
  • Let’s count them all together – One,
  • Action: hands in front of you as if holding a small ball
  • Two,
  • Action: hands in front of you as if holding a middle-size/medium size ball
  • Three!
  • Action: hands in front of you as if holding a big ball

Ten little fingers

  • I have ten little fingers, and they all belong to me.
  • I can make them do things.
  • Would you like to see?
  • Action: hold up hands with fingers spread wide.
  • I can shut them up tight
  • Action: make fists
  • Or open them wide.
  • Action: open up fists spreading fingers wide
  • I can put them together
  • Action: bring palms together
  • Or make them all hide.
  • Action: move hands behind your back
  • I can make them jump high
  • Action: raise hands high
  • Or make them go low.
  • Action: bring hands down along your side
  • I can fold them up quietly and sit just so.
  • Action: fold hands together and place in your lap.

Apples

  • Way up high in the apple tree,
  • Action: hands raised high over head
  • Two little apples smiled at me.
  • Action: make raised hands into fists
  • I shook that tree as hard as I could.
  • Action: hold hands stacked in front as if grabbing a tree trunk and shake away and back towards you multiple times
  • Down came the apples –
  • Action: raise fists over head and then drop hands to ground
  • Mmm, were they good!
  • Action: rub stomach in circular motion