April is National Poetry Month! I love to take this month to challenge parents to add a little more poetry to your family life! I already wrote a big, fun list of ways to share poetry with children but here’s another one: teach poetry with fingerplays!
How to teach poetry with fingerplays
Even if you aren’t a huge fan of poetry, I can’t underscore the importance of including poetry in your children’s lives. Here are just a few skills children learn from poetry:
active listening skills
It’s never too early (or too late!) to introduce poetry to children.
Don’t limit yourself to children’s verse – kids often enjoy advanced poetry selections if you read in a lively and upbeat way!
For preschoolers, many picture books already have rhyme or poetic qualities. So fingerplays are a fun way to ramp up the poetry in your house using books and rhymes you probably already have around. Check out this poetry book list to get started!
Fingerplays are simple motions and signs
You can use fingerplays along with reading to help toddlers engage with the text.
One of my son’s favorite poetry fingerplays is the familiar song, Itsy Bitsy Spider:
The itsy bitsy spider climbed up the water spout, (thumb and fingers “walk” up like spiders – actually my son likes to walk the spider up his arm as in the photo above!)
Down came the rain and washed the spider out, (fingers trickle down like rain.)
Out came the sun and dried up all the rain, (Move hands up over your head in a circle like the sun.)
And the itsy bitsy spider climbed up the spout again. (thumb fingers “walk” up again.)
This simple and well-known children’s song has many poetic elements: rhyme, repetition, visual imagery. The motions help your child remember the meaning of the words. Fingerplay is especially important when kids don’t quite know what all the words mean.
Try fingerplays with mini finger puppets or props to create visual poetry for your child! Or, literally, just use your fingers! Any time you find action words in poetry, act it out with your fingers or even your whole body.
Many nursery rhymes and poems already have finger/hand motions that go along with them, but don’t be afraid to make up your own as you read poems and rhymes to your children! It’ll help them love the lyrics so much more!
Shop for Fingerplay Songs and Poems!
The Eentsy, Weentsy Spider: Fingerplays and Action RhymesFingerplays & Rhymes In a Jar®Wee Sing Children’s Songs and FingerplaysLittle Hands, Fingerplays & Action Songs: Seasonal Activities & Creative Play for 2 – To 6-Year-Olds (Williamson Little Hands Series)Fingerplays For Rainy Days: Rhymes, Songs and Games for Simple Fun with Little Children
Do you share poetry with your children? How do you keep them engaged with the genre of poetry?
You may also enjoy these poetry articles:
- 7 ways children learn from poetry
- Favorite poetry books for children
- 7 ways to share poetry with children
- Wordplay with magnetic poetry
- Exploring poetry with onomatopoeia
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