Sometimes because of noise or space constraints, or simply because you want to calm rather than excite children, finger plays are a great alternative to action songs and rhymes. The children are concentrating and learning, and they can practise in their own time - lying in bed or whenever they like.
Pass the Beat
This is a circle activity for a group or class. It is great for encouraging socialisation, developing control, improving a sense of rhythm ... as well as having great possibilities for language practice and a great deal of fun if handled well.
- Sit in a circle.
- (Maybe try passing an object around the circle, to make sure the concept is understood.)
- Demonstrate hand-clapping to a regular beat, and hand-clapping irregularly. Explain that as a group you are going to create a regular beat. You are going to "Pass the Beat" around the circle, with each child providing one beat / clap.
- You do the first clap, and the child next to you claps once, and then so on around the circle.
- Discuss how well it went. Try again going around the other way.
- Get faster / slower as you go around.
- Each child claps twice, but keep the beat even. (3 times, 4 times)
- One child claps, and the next child claps twice quickly creating a rhythm.
- Every second (or 3rd or 4th ...) child claps (once, or twice or ...)
- Close their eyes and see if they can take their turn at clapping at the right time.
- Claps get louder / softer as they go around the circle.
- Add other body percussion - clicks / knee-slaps.
- Try a "Mexican Wave" or other movement - each child in turn makes the movement.
- Get them to clap hands with the child on one side, then the child on the other, thus passing the clap around.
- Use words - pass a word around, or a word sequence (count, go through alphabet, days of the week, or just alternate with two words ...) There are endless possibilities ...