15 Fabulous fingerplays and facts

Having a set of fingerplays in your toolbox of teaching skills will enrich your early childhood environment.


Here’s a quick look at ways you can use fingerplays in your classroom!


Today, I am joining Pre-k Pages and Prekinders to bring you 15 fabulous fingerplays and facts. Each of us have chosen five to share so you will want to be sure to stop by Pre-K Pages and Prekinders to see the other ten!

Way up High in the Apple Tree

Way up high in the apple tree,

Point up high

Five red apples looked at me.

Hold up five fingers

I shook that tree as hard as I could,

Pretend to shake the tree with both hands

Down came an apple,

Wiggle fingers down from the air

Mmmm, it was good.

Rub tummy!

Repeat with four, three, two, and one apple “smiled at me.”

Fingerplay Fact #1: Fine Motor Skills

“Way up High in the Apple Tree” helps young children to focus on each finger and the movement of their hands and fingers as they act out each part of the fingerplay. The development of fine motor skills can be reinforced by introducing a broad range of fingerplays to your children, but they won’t know that they are exercising those small muscles. Instead, they will just be enjoying the process of moving their hands and fingers along with you.

I Had a Little Red Balloon

I had a little red balloon

Pretend to hold a balloon in between your two hands.

And I blew, and I blew, and I blew.

Pretend to blow up the balloon.

And it grew, and it grew, and it grew.

Spread your two hands further and further apart.

I tossed it up in the air,

Pretend to toss the balloon up with your two hands.

And didn’t let it drop.

I bounced it on the ground,

Pretend to bounce the balloon on the ground with your two hands.

And it went “Pop!”

Clap your two hands together as you shout the word “Pop!”

Variation: Repeat only change the balloon (and your voice) to a great big or a teeny tiny balloon

Fingerplay Fact 2: Listening skills

As young children use their fingers and hands to represent or act out the words and actions in a fingerplay such a “I Had a Little Red Balloon,” they must listen to the story told within the fingerplay so they will know when it is time to blow up their balloon, when to make their balloon larger and larger, and when it is time to “Pop!”  Children learn to listen to one another and to the teacher as they focus on saying each phrase of the rhyme, acting it out together, and anticipating when they are supposed to clap their hands and say “Pop!”.

Five Little Popcorn Seeds

Five little popcorn seeds sitting in a pot

Have the children squat down low 

One got hot and it went “Pop!”

Jump on the word “Pop!” 

Repeat with Four, three, two, one, and no more popcorn seeds sitting in the pot.

Variation: You may want to start with the number of children in your class rather than the number five.

Fingerplay Fact 3: Pre-Reading Skills

When you have a really short fingerplay where each line is repeated often, take the time to write the fingerplay out on large chart paper or a dry erase board. Having the fingerplay available to view in printed form will help the children begin to relate the printed words to the words they have now become familiar enough to say and act out.  A fingerplay such as “Five Little Popcorn Seeds” is perfect for creating predictable print since the only change in the rhyme is the number word. Having the words of a fun and well loved fingerplay available in printed form and adding a picture, where possible, to illustrate key words in the rhyme will help the children to view the printed words as something fun and familiar.

Hello Song

Hello, hello,

Wave hand

Hello and how are you?

Point to the children

I’m fine, I’m fine,

Point to self

And I hope that you are too!

Point back to the children

Variation: Repeat with no sound just hand movements only

Fingerplay Fact 4: Creating Community

As young children participate together in singing, chanting, and acting out fingerplays, they feel a sense of happiness working and being together.  When using songs like the “Hello Song” the children feel a sense of belonging and as you look at the children while singing, they know that they are a valued member of their community.

Row Your Boat

Invite each child to find a partner. Have the children face their partners in a sitting position and hold hands. Partners hold hands and move forward and backward together as you sing the song.

Row, row, row your boat

Gently down the stream

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily

Life is but a dream.

Variation: Sing the song slow and move slow then sing the song fast and move fast.

Fingerplay Fact 5: Large Motor Skills

As young children use their full bodies to act out the actions of a fingerplay, they are working to develop large motor skills such as balance and coordination while squatting or stretching.  Fingerplays and simple rhymes can add an element of active play into your circletime or anytime of the day which keeps little bodies moving, while at the same time, building the ability to cognitively and physically control those large motor movements. As the children prepare to “pop” up at the end of “Five Little Popcorn Seeds,” mentioned above they must keep their balance and listen for that important cue that tells them it is time to “pop!” As the children work together to rock back and forth in “Row Your Boat” they must also work to keep their balance and coordinate their bodies to work together in a timely fashion.

Now be sure to head on over to Pre-K Pages and Prekinders 

to see the remaining ten fabulous fingerplays and facts

they have also prepared to share with you! 

Available on Amazon

Picture of Deborah J Stewart

Deborah J Stewart

Every time I think I know everything I need to know about teaching young children, God says, "Hold on a minute!" and gives me a new challenge.

Let me tell ya...

With each new challenge that you overcome, you will find yourself better equipped and more passionate about teaching young children.

God didn't call wimps to lead, teach, or care for His children. Nope, he has high expectations, so get ready. You will have to give your very best but after teaching for over 30 years, I can tell you that it is a wonderful and rewarding journey.

Whenever your calling feels hard, just remember, 'He who began a good work in you (and in the children you serve) will be faithful to complete it.'

Subscribe to My Newsletter

Latest Blog Posts

P is for Pizza!

While learning about the letter “P” we decided to explore with pizza! Pizza is an all-time favorite food for many preschoolers, and activities involving pizza

Read More »