The educative experiences of all learning, especially early learning, focus on the holistic development of the child in terms of mental, emotional, physical and social processes, values and skills. Among the range of activities which facilitate this overall development and stimulate speech production, finger play is a valuable creative experience for young children as it provides them motivation to participate, to think, to feel, to do and to learn. Also, it helps them coordinate body and mind to enact a story and narrate it in a sequential order at the same time. Finger play involves playing out a simple, easy-to-say rhyming story accompanied by hand and finger movements and facial expressions.
As a technique for language development and use, finger play helps the learner do the following.
i. Develop skills of deductive reasoning which help perceive the relationship between various elements in a situation or a series of connected situations, and see the cause – effect link in any text.
ii. Understand and follow the logical structuring of a narrative, that is, the sequential nature of rhymes and stories, or for that matter any text: how it starts, what happens next and after that, and finally, what happens in the end.
iii. Understand and express concepts of space and time.
iv. Acquire a greater proficiency in the skills of listening and speaking through aural comprehension of the teacher’s presentation of the story to be finger played and oral practice of it.
v. Develop the skill of composition so that he can write in his own words the story based on the finger play with greater control over sentence construction and increased facility in using new words learnt in the story.
vi. Develop his creativity through the illustrations he makes to accompany his writing effort. Drawings and pictures cut out of newspapers and magazines can be used as pictorial complements.
vii.Perform creative tasks that could include making innovative and imaginative additions or variations in terms of characters, events, facial expressions, gestures and body movements to the finger play of learning and speaking fluently, intelligibly, appropriately and creatively through the coordination of speech and physical movements. An effort is required to put together the spelling out of the narrative as well as eloquent gestures like hand and finger movements. The emphasis is on coordination of speech and physical movements.
viii.Research different ideas, concepts and activities related to the finger play story with the help of teacher. A lot of interesting and comprehensive learning experiences are possible through projects based on fingerplay. For example, size and shapes, different types of dwellings, flora and fauna, personality types, etc.
ix. Link topics, themes and skills across different subjects: literature, arithmetic, art and craft, history, geography, science and elocution.
x. Acquire ethical and social values through discussions based on fingerplay stories, for example, outer and inner behavior in character in the story, cruelty to animals, and desirable qualities are some of the topics for class discussion.
Overcome shyness and develop confidence in speaking, as this is a group activity and the focus is not on the individual child. He can then progress to speaking and performing in front of the class. Thus, finger play offers opportunity not only for developing the skill of speaking but other language skills also, along with developing the potential of the hands and fingers as learning aids.