A selection of rhymes to be used for finger play can be made at the beginning of the school year. Rhymes selected should include the following elements.
1. Actions of various kinds, which include (a) describing objects, people, animals,
birds, etc. (b) making movements of the body and limbs showing various kinds of actions and different speeds- starting to walk very fast, running, jumping, skipping, etc.
2. Text must not be too long to begin with. Later, as the pupils become familiar with techniques of finger play, they could be given short stories to recite and finger play. For example, they could start with ‘Jack and Jill’, ‘Humpty Dumpty’, ‘Three Blind Mice’ and then move on to rhymes like ‘This is the House that Jack Built’ and ‘Who killed cock Robin?’.
As finger play involves both speech and hand movements, teacher can prepare pupils for this activity by speech- training exercise, and those which ensure the flexibility of the arms, hands and fingers. Exercise designed to improve neuro-motor skills of upper limbs include the following movements.
Each exercise can be done three times. The teacher asks pupils to…
1. flail their arms sideways as if they are flying like a bird
2. hunch their shoulders up and down smoothly and then make a circle, first forward and then backward
3. make huge sweeping circles with their arms stretched sideways
4. hold out arms in front, flex them quickly so that hands touch the shoulders
5. shake hands as if they are wet and are being dried
6. make a fist of both hands and turn them around in circles, first clockwise and then anticlockwise
7. spread out fingers as far as possible, hold for three seconds and then relax hands
8. play an imaginary piano with firm, clear finger movements
9. close the hand in a fist and open fingers one by one
10. open hands, spread out fingers and close the finger one by one into a
11. make imaginary circular, triangular and square objects with their fingers
12. write letters of the alphabet in the air with each finger one by one.
All these exercises will ensure flexibility of the arms, hands and fingers
and create clear, distinctive, well-defined and expressive finger
movements to delineate a narrative.
PROCEDURE FOR FINGER PLAY
This involves a step-by-step linking of spoken sentence and expressive finger
movements. The following sequence illustrates the procedure for this activity.
1. Teacher presents the complete story and finger play to be learnt
through a live demonstration or playing a text of the tape accompanied
by hand movements. There should be complete synchronization between
the telling of the text and the accompanying hand and finger movements.
2. Pupils learn to say the rhyme or story, articulating text with emotions.
3. Teacher demonstrates and pupils learn finger movements needed for
the story in a properly paced sequence.
4. Text and finger play are combined to produce a coherent and complete
enactment. Teacher recites with the class by saying text and making the
related finger/hand movements. This activity can be repeated several
times so that pupils gain confidence in doing it without hesitation or
prompting them. Teacher asks pupils to say the first line and also do
the finger play and so on till the end of the rhyme or the story. Finally,
they perform the complete finger play in a smooth sequence by themselves.
5. The class can be divided into groups if there are several characters in
the story or a chorus, each group playing one character or the chorus or
highlighting sounds and movements.
6. The characters can be discussed in terms of their appearance, qualities,
emotions and intentions. Children can then be helped to enter into the
character for a meaningful rendition.
7. Use any audio or visual aid which can help the pupil to visualize the
required movements in a rhyme. Prior preparation and practice enables
the teacher to ensure an interesting flow of sequenced movements and
guide the pupils in well demarcated actions and finger play.
ILLUSTRATION OF FINGER PLAY : HICKORY DICKORY DOCK
STEP 1 :
Teacher says the whole rhyme, accompanying the recitation with
hand movements and facial expressions.
i. Hickory : Teacher closes her hand into a fist, opens the first finger.
ii. Dickory : Opens second finger.
iii. Dock : Vigorously places right fist on the palm of her left hand.iv.
iv. The mouse : Teacher brings both hands up below the chin with fingers
v. Ran up the clock : Right hand fingers move up quickly in the air.
vi. The clock struck one : Claps both hands loudly.
vii. The mouse ran down : Right hand fingers express a scurrying movement
viii.Hickory : same as i)
ix. Dickory : same as ii)
x. Dock : same as iii)
STEP 2 :
Teacher asks pupils to repeat the nursery rhyme one line at a time and
make the appropriate hand movements: Coordination between recitation and
hand movements may be difficult the first time, but very quickly the pupils
will be able to do the whole exercise smoothly.
Finger play is an important activity in combining verbal and nonverbal activities.
Teacher could write down arm/hand body/leg/foot movements and facial
expressions needed for all the rhymes to be taught, so that complete, coherent,
discrete units of body language are established and this vocabulary used
with every succeeding class. Verbal and nonverbal expressions are complementary
modes in learner’s language development and his use of the language.