Finger plays have been used in early childhood classrooms for many years- however, they seem to have taken a backseat recently to more “academic” skills.
Did you know that fingerplays have many educational benefits that help support brain development?
Fingerplay Fact #1: Crossing the Midline
Crossing the midline is any movement in which the arms and/or legs cross over the center of the body from one side to the other- thus making the left side of the brain work together with the right side of the brain. Crossing the midline is crucial to the development of skills such as reading and writing which require the hand and eye to cross the page as text is read or written. Research shows that children who are unable to cross the midline are often not developmentally ready to read.
One very popular fingerplay that supports crossing the midline is “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” Introduce the rhyme and encourage children to move their arms and hands across their bodies as if they are reaching for the stars one at a time with each hand. For example, the left arm and hand cross the body as we sing the first “twinkle” and the right arm and hand cross the body in the opposite direction as we sing the second “twinkle.” We continue on in this manner as we sing the song to get lots of crossing the midline practice from day one!
After introducing the fingerplay and singing it several times, introduce the book and invite children to sing along as you read. Next, place the book in the classroom library for children to explore independently. Young children feel successful and confident “reading” books that are familiar to them.