Are you noticing that young children have weaker fine motor skills these days?
Hands-on activities are vital for developing stronger fingers. Playing outside, manipulating small toys, using tweezers, tools, playing with dough, small instruments, digging, building, stacking, sorting, pouring…these types of activities are all very important elements in developing fine motor skills.
When you don’t have toys, instruments, sand/water tables etc at your fingertips, songs that strengthen little fingers can be fun and helpful in developing finger strength, and I have some helpful ones you can sing together anytime and anywhere!
I’m going to share some of my FAVOURITE songs–that don’t require any props–that you can easily use to help children develop strength in their fingers.
Teaching and practising these finger-strengthening songs is like fine-motor boot-camp, AND they teach important concepts, too, like counting forwards, backwards, naming digits, following directions and anticipating what comes next (pattern prediction):
To start, stretch those fingers downwards by forming them into two “birds”. Practice “flapping” their wings up and down as you follow along with this song. Move those “birds” around and stretch those arms, wrists and hands at different angles.
There are different ways to make “birds” with your hands…try using two hands to create flapping “wings”. Lock thumbs and flap the fingers. Reverse hands and lock pinkies. This action stretches the muscles in the hands and digits inwards and outwards, exercising fingers as you sing and flap.
These imitation feathers would be a great prop to use for this song–for a sensory experience, dramatic element and for using those little fingers to pinch the tips of the feathers as you flap!
Start off by imitating the counting style in the video.
Talk about the different ways you can make “3” with one hand, then explore the different combinations or “3” you can make with two hands.
Try counting to “3” with both hands mirroring each other. Try doing different combinations of “3” at the same time. That’s harder!
Sing the song faster. If you’re singing with a group, look for someone who has made the same combination of “3” as you have with their fingers!
If you sit with everyone’s toes in the centre of the circle, everyone gets a full body stretch as they reach down to count on their toes.
This is an “advanced” finger strengthening workout song. Great for older kids!
Start with simplicity: Follow along with ONE hand.
This song not only counts forward and backwards to and from five, it names the digits: “Thumb”, “Index”, “Middle”, “Ring” and “Pinky”, then reverses the order to practise word association with each digit.
While you’re learning the names of the fingers and counting, though, you’re reinforcing excellent finger strengthening by raising and lowering each digit with this song.
Extend this song by playing “Simon Says” with the names of the fingers and instruct your little ones to do their best to hold up or point to that finger (“Simon Says: ‘Show me one pinky'”). This helps isolate the muscles and exercise them independently.
For “5 Fingers”, you can even put colourful rings on the “ring fingers” as an additional visual cue. Putting the little rings on and taking them off is good finger strengthening exercise, too!
Here are some fun little rings. They also make for a nice little fine motor exercising activity if you want to put them out for sorting and trying on different fingers (and toes):
My “Follow Nancy” playlist on my YouTube channel shares some of my other favourite songs with actions that you can sing as part of your circle time routine that also strengthen fingers and hands while they develop hand/eye co-ordination and anticipation skills:
A Sweet Story About Physical Uniqueness: “My Strong Hand”
I have always felt that it’s important to draw positive attention to “physical uniqueness” as a means to build confidence and nurture empathy/understanding/acceptance from children during a group activity where differences among us present themselves.
As my song, “Wonderful You” says, “Different is better than being the same”–I love helping children celebrate the differences among us.
I’m going to share a story here about a child in one of my classes who had three fingers on one of his hands.
Jason confidently replied, “That’s my ‘Strong Hand’. I have one hand with 5 fingers, and my other hand has to work extra hard to do things, so it’s stronger (Huge respect to whomever taught him this).”
I remarked, “I’m sure you’re proud of that hand for how hard it works, so we should all give your strong hand an extra big clap. Hold it up and let it take a bow.”
Once everyone was on board with how many fingers everyone had, I informed Jason that the fingers on his “strong hand” needed names.
I went on to say that he could choose whatever names he wanted for his three fingers and that he could use those names while we sang the song. He named them “Michael, Steven and Cam”, much to the delight of his 3 friends with those names sitting closest to him.
We all held up 3 fingers and sang “Michael, Steven, Caaaam….Cam, Steven and Miiiichael”, which was a happy moment for everyone, on a number of different levels….and a great learning opportunity.
Extending it one step further (and getting even more off topic from this post), the children took turns lining up in groups of 3 and 5, singing their friends’ different names forward and backwards to the tune of “5 Fingers”.
Ah, going off on a “learning tangent”. It’s the best.