Friday, August 30, 2013

Fingerplay Fun Friday!

Here is a quick fingerplay called Chook Chook Chook

Chook Chook Chook

Chook, chook, chook, chook
Good morning Mrs. Hen
How many chickens have you got?
Madam, I've got ten

Four of them are yellow
Four of them are brown
Two of them are speckled red
The nicest in the town!

I like this one because it presents kids with a really fast and simple introduction to addition.  Count out the number of chickens using both hands.  First, raise four fingers on one hand (except the thumb).  Next, raise four finger on the other hand (except the thumb).  Finish it up by wiggling the two thumbs remaining.

You can build on the rhyme by having a conversation with your child after it's all over.  The conversation could go something like this:

  • "How many chickens were yellow?"
  • "How many chickens were brown?"
  • "How many were speckled red?"
  • "What do we get when we add four yellow chickens with four brown chickens and two red speckled chickens?"
  • Answer: "Madam, I've got ten!"

When children make real world connections with the abstract concepts, they are much more likely to understand how things like mathematics work!  Pretty neat.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Fingerplay Fun Friday!

Choo! Choo!!  Here's a rhyme all about trains: Down By the Station

Down By the Station

Down by the station
Early in the morning
See the little puffer-bellies
All in a row
See the engine master
Pull his little lever

Puff, puff
Toot, toot
Off we go!!

This should come as no surprise.. toddlers and preschoolers love trains!   Perhaps it is the orderliness of it all.  Trains ride upon very specific routes, predetermined by their tracks.  There isn't much room for them to veer off.  As children begin to make sense of the world around them, it can be comforting for them to know that some things follow very specific rules and orders.  Check out this NY Times article about the very special place trains have in the lives of many children on the autism spectrum.

I like this rhyme because it has some fun vocabulary.  "Puffer-bellies" is an old-fashioned name for steam locomotives.  Here is a great video that shows over 35 minutes of steam locomotives in action: Four Seasons of Steam

Another great vocabulary word is "lever".  A lever is a simple machine that lets someone move an object in one location by pressing/pulling/applying pressure on another location.  Here is a picture of a brake lever from a diesel locomotive:

Borrowed from:
 And here is a picture of another familiar lever:

When children hear lots of words it helps them build their vocabulary.  It is easier for children with large vocabularies to learn how to read because they are able to understand or make sense out of the words they sound out.

First hand experiences in the real world give kids the opportunity to build their vocabularies.  The Oregon Rail Heritage Center (open Thursday-Sunday from 1pm-5pm) is located in Portland near OMSI and is a great way for kids to learn lots of new words and see some steam locomotives up close!!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Fingerplay Fun Friday!

Let's count!!!  Today's rhyme is called: One Two Three Four Five

One Two Three Four Five

One, two, three,
Four, five,
I caught a fish alive;
Six, seven, eight,
Nine, ten,
I let him go again

Why did you let it go?
Because it bit my finger so.
Which finger did it bite?
The little finger on the right.

Every once in a while I discover a rhyme that is what I would call a "super-rhyme!"  These little rhymes seem very simple on the surface - mild-mannered, like Clark Kent - but when you analyze them, you discover they are cram-jammed full of all sorts of early literacy building powers.

Here is what I like about this super-rhyme:
  1. It gives kids a chance to practice counting to ten.  This, in turn, helps kids learn sequencing.
  2. Rising the fingers one at a time lets kids practice their fine motor skills.  Moving fingers independently is a skill that kids will need when they learn to write and type.
  3. The back and forth dialog in the final section of the rhyme models conversational turn-taking.  This is part of the pre-reading skill we call narrative skills.
  4. The very last line gives kids the chance to build up their directional sense.  Recognizing right from left is an important pre-reading skill.

While we're on the subject of counting... if you haven't already seen the brand new counting book from up-and-coming kid-lit wunderkind Mac Barnett, I highly recommend it:

Title: Count the Monkeys
Author: Mac Barnett
Illustrator: Kevin Cornell
Find this book at your library

The title says it all!  This is your big chance to count a book full of monkeys ... unless they get scared away by a cobra or mongooses or crocodiles or ... you get the picture.  This book is more fun than a barrel of ... wait for it .... MONKEYS!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Fingerplay Fun Friday!

In honor of Shark Week, here is one of our older (and more popular) fingerplays: Baby Shark

Baby Shark

Baby shark, do-do, doot doot, do-do,
(open & close index finger & thumb)
Baby shark, do-do, doot doot, do-do.

Brother shark, do-do, doot doot, do-do,
(all fingers & thumb)
Brother shark, do-do, doot doot, do-do.

Mother shark, do-do, doot doot, do-do,
(both hands -- hinged at wrists)
Mother shark, do-do, doot doot, do-do.

Daddy shark, do-do, doot doot, do-do,
(both arms -- hinged at elbows)
Daddy shark, do-do, doot doot, do-do.

Now we swim, do-do, doot doot, do-do,
(pretend to swim)
From the shark, do-do, doot doot, do-do.


I like this rhyme because it is nothing short of pure fun!!!  That's a good enough reason for sharing it with kids, right?

It also presents kids with the opportunities to build their motor skills (exercising the finger muscles needed to hold a pencil and the upper body needed to drag a pencil across the page).  Next time you write something down, try to pay attention to the muscles you use.  It's really fascinating!!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Fingerplay Fun Friday!

Here's a fun action rhyme all about a busy little turtle: The Little Turtle

The Little Turtle

There was a little turtle (hands together)
He lived inside a box (make a box with hands)
He swam in a puddle (pretend to swim)
He climbed on the rocks (pretend to climb)

He snapped at a mosquito (clap hands)
He snapped at a flea
He snapped at a minnow
He snapped at me

He caught the mosquito (grab with your hand)
He caught the flea
He caught the minnow
But he didn't catch me (wag finger)

I like this rhyme because it is simple, yet challenging.  Remembering the correct order of the turtle's prey can be quite difficult.  First, the turtle snaps at the mosquito, then the flea, then the minnow and finally me.  Next, he catches the mosquito, the flea, the minnow... but not me!  It helps that "flea" and "me" rhyme.

Understanding sequencing and recognizing rhymes and patterns are all very important pre-reading skills.  Kids who are able to anticipate what is coming next are better at making predictions when they begin learning to read.