This past week, I have had the chance to visit some of the children and families from the school where I’ll be working as a music teacher this fall. Many of the parents are so excited and eager for their children to learn, especially for them to learn to read.
Most children learn to read between ages five and seven, but there are many things parents can do to prepare even the youngest children for becoming readers when the time comes. The most important is taking time to read with children every day. Being introduced to books on the lap of a parent or another beloved caregiver is one of the most important ways to help a child learn to love reading.
Parents and caregivers can also build important pre-reading skills through singing, chanting rhymes, and doing finger plays with children.
Here are two songs that I shared at our July 17 Do-Re-Mi ABC time at the Wild Child store in Arlington. The first is a simple counting song that involves counting on your fingers. Finger plays help build children’s small motor skills, which develops the muscles used in important skills such as handwriting. The counting activity is a great way to practice counting down and subtracting. You can start each verse with fingers up in the air for the number of apples in the tree, then shake and wiggle your hands (or your whole body) in the middle of the song, and then tap your hand on the ground “boom” when each apple falls down.
Five Red Apples
Nursery Song & Finger Play; Tune: Twinkle, Twinkle/ABC
Five red apples in an apple tree,
The reddest apples you ever did see.
So we shook that tree, and wiggled around,
And one red apple came tumbling down.
Now, how many apples are there? Four!
Repeat the song, each time taking away one apple from the tree.
When I sing this song, I use a glove with five cardboard red apples taped onto the fingers and thumb. Finger puppet gloves are so simple to make, and children adore them!
Children also love my spoon puppets, Icky Sticky and Ooey Gooey. If you would like to learn this song, you can find out more about it in this video. The great thing about this song is it works at various levels. For very young children and older kids just learning English, this song teaches about body parts. It also invites children to think of rhyming words. So if you say, “Icky Sticky and Ooey Gooey played in the hose,” the child would guess that the rhyming body part is “nose” or “toes.”
Here are the words:
Icky Sticky and Ooey Gooey, they went out one day.
Said Icky Sticky to Ooey Gooey, “Won’t you come and play?”
So Icky Sticky and Ooey Gooey, they played in the sand.
But Icky Sticky got stuck to Ooey Gooey’s….. HAND!
1-2-3 Unstick! Boop! (pull apart)
They climbed up a tree … knee
They played in the snow … toe
They went to a farm … arm
They played by the track … back
If you don’t have time to make spoon puppets, you can always have your pointer fingers play the parts of Icky Sticky and Ooey Gooey.