Monday, October 8, 2007

Ten Fidgety Fingers

Rhymes and fingerplays are a staple of library and daycare programming for young kids. They are great for children - they encourage remembering, small motor skills, and rhyming skills (connected to early phonics). They are great for grownups, too, as they can provide a brief diversion without any props, and can help smoothe along events like getting dressed, eating, bathing, and so on. They provide a backdrop for bouncing activities, for babies who like to bounce, and can even teach vocabulary in naming body parts and animals. Some of these can be learned in circle times at libraries and otherwise, if you can attend them. But how else can you find some to use with your baby? Here are a few starter resources for parents, some of which even make for fun storytime sharing.

Hand Rhymes, by Marc Brown

This small collection (and its companion, Finger Rhymes) is illustrated by Arthur author Brown in his quirky, recognizable style. There is a nice selection in these books, including some nice seasonal rhymes. Each line of a rhyme has a small box beside it showing the accompanying action. This makes it more awkward to use on the fly, but with many of these rhymes being a bit more involved, it could be well used with a slightly older child at a table or on the floor together so that you and your child both have your hands free.

Knock at the Door, by Kay Chorao

This sweet and gentle book is aimed at babies. Each line is accompanied by a small square illustration of the actions. This is useful for learning them, but the small size does make it more difficult to use at the same moment that you are holding a wiggly baby. I still recommend it for some lovely, cute content, however I would use this either to learn some rhymes yourself, or with a small table nearby that you could place the book on while you perform the rhyme and actions with your child.

Hippety-Hop, Hippety-Hay, by Opal Dunn, ill. Sally Anne Lambert

This book is arranged in sections according to age (birth to age 3), each started with a brief rundown of what your child can do and tips on how to use rhymes with them. There are several rhymes arranged on a page around a themed illustration, and in this case, the actions are described underneath in italics, as well as ideas on extending the rhyme. Music for a few is provided at the end, as is an index of first lines that eases the finding of favourite rhymes.

The Eentsy-Weentsy Spider, by Joanna Cole and Stephanie Calmenson, ill. Alan Tiegreen

This fun book of familiar rhymes (and it's companion, Pat-a-Cake) is made priceless by the quirky and slightly comic illustrations of Alan Tiegreen, best known for his work as the man who brought Ramona Quimby to life. Each rhyme's action is illustrated with nice large illustrations of kids, complete with arrows to show movement when needed. For older kids, this team has also put together books of marble games, tongue twisters, street rhymes and jump-rope chants, card and party games, autograph rhymes, and travel games. I have this dream where they have fantastically fun meetings to brainstorm concepts and try out possible entries, and I get to join them!

For parents and caregivers looking for extra rhymes or new material, I would recommend either checking with your librarian for professional resources, or visiting Perpetural Preschool, which has a massive quantity of songs and rhymes by theme. They need some sifting, as they are not all excellent, but it is a good resource for themed ideas (also for art, science, and snacks!).

For parents who would like to hear them or see them in action, look for CDs by Kathy Reid-Naiman, or videos by Sally Jaeger, all available in Toronto's libraries. Or come and visit a storytime!

Originally posted on MommyBlogsToronto/Better Than a Playdate.

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