Simple rhymes and fingerplays are often used in nursery school and Waldorf classrooms to gather the attention of children for activity changes, before snack and at lunchtime.  We use them at home in similar circumstances and also during our circle and story time to acknowledge seasonal happenings or daily events.

The fingerplay with which I was most familiar as a child was Itsy Bitsy Spider but there are dozens of these fun rhymes and games that have been around for, I believe, hundreds of years in some cases.  I couldn't say why children find them so captivating but they do.  These are those we have collected over the years:

Shoemaker, shoemaker, make me a shoe
Have it ready by half past two
Sometimes red and sometimes brown
Is it up or is it down?
Before beginning, find a special small object, usually a pretty stone and hold it secretly in one fist.  Then holding both fists closed, tap one on top of the other, switching back and forth while singing.  At the end, your playmate has to guess which hand holds the special stone. 

Where is Thumbkin?  Where is Thumbkin?
Here I am!  (a)  Here I am! (b)
How are you today sir?  (c)
Very well, I thank you!  (d)
Run away... (e)  Run away... (f)
Start with both hands behind the back and sing to the tune of Are You Sleeping?  (a) out comes one fisted hand with the thumb raised (b) out comes the other hand (c) the first thumb wiggles as if talking (d) the second thumb wiggles as if speaking in response (e) the first hand goes back behind the back (f) the second follows.  This coming forward, greeting and running away is repeated for Pointer, Tall Man, Ring Man, Pinky and then The Whole Family

Here are Grandma's forks and knives (a)
Here is Grandma's table (b)
Here are Grandma's looking glass (c)
Here is baby's cradle (d)
(a) begin with fingers extended with tips up and interlaced (b) flatten hands and arms (c) hold one hand up and gaze into as if into a mirror while holding that same arm as a "handle" with the other hand (d) with palms up, rock arms as if holding a baby

Pea Pods
Bean Pods
Poppy Pods
Seed Pods
Swell until they ripen
Then they open with a pop!
Begin with hands clasped together, fingers interlaced (like a child in prayer) with the fingers laying on the backs of the opposite hand.  As each pod is announced raise up first the pointer fingers together, then the middle, ring and finally pinky.  As they swell the palms slowly pull apart and round as if a ball is held between the two hands.  Pull the hands apart as they "open" and clap back together with the pop!

'Round the Garden
'Round and 'round the garden
Goes the little mouse (a)
Up the garden path she creeps (b)
Into her little house (c)
(a) hold the child's hand palm up in yours and draw little circles with your index and middle finger (b) creep your fingers up the child's arm (c) tickle under the child's chin or armpit

Here is my garden (a)
I rake it with care (b)
Then a few seeds I shall plant there (c)
The sun will shine (d)
And the rain will fall (e)
And up come the flowers straight and tall (f)
(a) hold one hand palm up throughout (b) use opposite hand with bent fingers to "rake" the soil of the first hand (c) plant little seeds with forefinger and thumb (d) gesture to the sun shining in the sky (e) pitter patter onto the "garden" with tinkling fingers (f) tip up fingers slowly sprout up between the palm up fingers of the garden hand

A chubby little snowman (a)
Had a carrot nose (b)
Along came a bunny (c)
And what do you suppose? (d)
That hungry little bunny (e)
Looking for her lunch (f)
Ate the snowman's nose (g)
Nibble, nibble, crunch! (h)
(a) hold arms out in a circle outlining chubby belly (b) point finger out from nose (c) shape forefinger and middle finger into bunny ears (d) turn palms up and shrug (e) rub belly (f) shade eyes and look into distance (g) point finger out from nose again (h) hop ears over to finger nose then grab the finger inside fist

Peter hammers with one hammer, one hammer, one hammer (pounding one fist on the floor or leg)
Peter hammers with one hammer all day long
Peter Hammers with two hammers, two hammers, two hammers (pounding two fists)
Peter hammers with two hammers all day long
Peter hammers with three hammers, three hammers, three hammers (add one stomping foot)
Peter hammers with three hammers all day long
Peter Hammers with four hammers, four hammers, four hammers (add a second stomping foot)
Peter hammers with four hammers all day long
Peter hammers with five hammers, five hammers, five hammers (add the head nodding up and down)
Peter hammers with five hammers all day long
Peter's very tired now, tired now, tired now (gently rub fists on eyes)
Peter's very tired now, the day was so long (lay head on hands)
This is a great way to channel the exuberance of very spirited children.  It's an outlet for a lot of energy, brings giggles every time and ends in a state of calm.  Substitute your child's name in place of Peter.

I have ten fingers (a) and they all belong to me (b)
I can make them do things.  Would you like to see?
I can shut them up tight (c)
I can open them wide (d)
I can put them together (e)
I can make them all hide (f)
I can make them jump high (g)
I can make them bow low (h)
I can fold them up quietly
And hold them just so (i)
(a) hold both hands up, fingers spread (b) point to self (c) make fists (d) open hands (e) clap hands (f) place hands behind back (g) hold hands over head (h) touch the floor (i) fold hands into lap

Here is the beehive, but where are the bees? (a)
Hidden away where nobody sees (b)
Watch and you'll see them come out of the hive (c)
One, two, three, four, five... (d)
(a) enclose thumb in fist to make the hive (b) place the other hand over the hive (c) closely watch the hive (d) beginning with the thumb, slowly release each finger out one by one until they're all buzzing and maybe tickling your child

Here is a bunny with ears so funny (a)
And here is a hole in the ground (b)
When a noise she hears
She pricks up her ears (c)
And jumps in the hole in the ground (d)
(a) hold up the curved index and middle finger of one hand in the shape of bunny ears (b) make a hole with soft open fist of the other hand (c) straighten bunny's ears (d) dive ears into the hold

I had a little turtle (a)
She lived inside a box (b)
She swam in the water (c)
She climbed on the rocks (d)
She snapped at a mosquito
She snapped at a flea
She snapped at a minnow
And she snapped at me (e)
She caught the mosquito
She caught the flea
She caught the minnow (f)
But she didn't catch me (g)
(a) make a turtle shell with one hand (b) place the other hand over the top (c) make swimming motion with both hands (d) climb with both hands (e) snap with index and thumb at various locations (f) pop imaginary catches into mouth (g) wag index finger

Five little squirrels sitting in a tree
The first one said, "What do I see?"
The second one said, "Some nuts on the ground."
The third one said, "Those nuts I found."
The fourth one said, "I'll race you there."
The fifth one said, "Alright, that's fair."
So they shook their tails and ran with glee.
To the nuts that lay at the foot of the tree.

Tommy Thumb is up and Tommy Thumb is down
Tommy Thumb is dancing all around the town
Dance him on your shoulders
 Dance him on your head
Dance him on your knees then tuck him into bed
Peter Pointer’s up and Tommy Thumb is down
Peter Pointer’s dancing all around the town
Dance him on your shoulders
Dance him on your head
Dance him on your knees then tuck him into bed
Terry Tall is up and Terry Tall is down
Terry Tall is dancing all around the town
Dance him on your shoulders
Dance him on your head
Dance him on your knees then tuck him into bed
Ruby Ring is up and Ruby Ring is down
Ruby Ring is dancing all around the town
Dance her on your shoulders
Dance her on your head
Dance her on your knees then tuck her into bed
Penny Pinkie’s up and Penny Pinkie’s down
Penny Pinkie’s dancing all around the town
Dance her on your shoulders
Dance her on your head
Dance her on your knees then tuck her into bed
All the family's up and all the family's down
All the family's dancing all around the town

Dance them on your shoulders
Dance them on your head
Dance them on your knees then tuck them into bed

Five brown buns in the baker's shop (a)
Five brown buns with cinnamon on top (b)
Along came a man with a penny in his hand (c)
Took one bun and away he ran (d)
Four brown buns etc...
Three brown buns etc...
Two brown buns etc...
One brown bun etc...
No brown buns in the baker's shop
No brown buns with cinnamon on top
Along came a man with a penny in his hand
Took one look and away he ran
(a) begin by holding up the five fingers of the left hand  (b) shake an imaginary shaker over the five upheld fingers using the right hand  (c) change the right handed shaker hand to index and middle "walking fingers" walking toward the left hand "buns" (d) pinch one bun away with the right index and thumb (and lower the left bun finger) then run the rand hand fingers away

Five fat peas in a pea pod pressed (a)
One grew, two grew, so did all the rest (b)
They grew and grew and did not stop (c)
Until one day the pod when POP! (d)
(a) hold the hand in a fist (b) put thumb and fingers up one by one (c) slowly raise hand into the air (d) clap hand together 

Five red apples
Hanging on a tree (a)
The juiciest apples you ever did see (b)
The wind came past
And gave an angry frown (c)
And one little apple came tumbling down (d)
Four red apples etc...
(a) hold up five fingers (b) pinch the upheld fingers (c) sway hand as the apple tree in wind (d) lower one finger
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