Froebelian Finger Rhymes In a Modern Setting

Finger/Hand Rhymes

Project author:

Project summary:

This project considers Froebel’s theory of finger rhymes to achieve nurturing and learning elements whilst enhancing the children’s joy and understanding of the world, identifying Froebel’s theory of making connections to real life.

Finger rhymes


This project looks at “Closing the attainment gap” by enhancing skills through a holistic approach- learning through doing, including:

  • Speech and language development skills
  • Fine and gross motor development skills
  • A holistic approach to learning
  • Identifying Connectiveness.

The purpose is to identify/utilise Froebelian principles to revive the implementation of hand and finger rhymes in an early year setting- following Scottish National Guidance and reflecting Froebelian theory. It aims to support the nurturing and learning elements that Froebel intended whilst enhancing children’s joy and understanding of their world in the modern setting.


Literature shows that the early years are fundamental in developing our communication and language skills (Education Scotland 2020). Research indicates that good attainment in early development can positively impact future academic attainment and wellbeing (Education Scotland, 2014). Language development is key to improving other areas of learning; it is vital to the bigger picture of development (Education Scotland, 2020).

Covid 19 had impacted singing in the setting, and I felt spoken rhyme was very important. With this in mind, I identified a void in the setting. Finger rhymes proved to be a valuable learning tool to allow children to feel the beat and rhythm of words.

Finger rhymes are a teaching method that incorporates rhyming speech and finger/hand actions to aid delivery. These hand/finger actions match the pace or rhyme, telling the story through movements. The versatile way to engage children with language through finger rhymes can also aid further learning opportunities. The subject matter may be chosen and delivered through short poems, rhyming stories, verses, or songs. The added aspect of active actions in finger and hand rhyme further connects to the Froebelian principle of learning through doing



The project was financially achievable by utilising resources in place. Staff engagement/ training was achievable.

The first step was to introduce the concept to stakeholders. Highlighting the benefits of finger rhymes in multiple areas in children’s development and lives.

We introduced the finger rhymes in smaller groups (approximately 10-12 children). Within the groups, the children were encouraged to discuss a topic of choice, be respectful, and listen to each other to build relationships during our learning. Together, children and staff would learn the words and physical movements of the finger rhymes. The children were involved in planning by having the opportunity to share their suggestions, to inform the final choice of the finger rhyme topics- their choices were understood through responsive observations and attention to children’s expressed interests (Education Scotland, 2020) (Education Scotland, 2019). The finger rhymes were shared at different times of the day to observe the impact and engagement. I took the lead of the project to get it started hoping other practitioners would engage in the project.

Sharing the finger rhymes with parents was hoped to aid communication between stakeholders by creating shared learning and connectedness by improving the blending of the setting and home.

'Learning should be joyous, meaningful, and relevant. It should inspire further learning, or it is nothing' (Tovey, 2017., p.126).

Tovey, H (2017) Bringing the Froebelian Approach to your Early Years Practice Routledge, Oxon.


The Froebelian approach to learning finger rhymes was not intended as a ‘time filler’ to keep the children amused but as a fun educational tool. To help develop speech and language skills and develop subject knowledge and understanding of our environment.

As children make the connections between words and finger actions, their brains are thought to make stronger neuron connections. Building knowledge and memory recall was evidenced during finger rhyme time. The repetition of the finger rhymes action and words was observed to create a physical joy with the children. Observations of children helping each other place their hands and fingers into position become a frequent event, highlighting the benefit of bonding. During this project, the rhymes used in fingerplays were linked to current learning by following children’s interests. The topic choices and actions of the rhymes proved to be successful, as they appeared to help the children embed knowledge by creating links to their learning.

Finger rhymes link sounds and movements, as the words and actions are interconnected. The children utilised effective listening skills, engaged, and contributed to the finger rhyme play, connecting body movements to words. Observations evidenced increased concentration skills and developing phonological awareness when participating in finger rhymes. These are the skills required for future learning skills such as reading.

The children interacted and engaged well with the finger rhymes. Observed through this activity was the increased participation of some children who are typically identified as less engaged or reserved during traditional Storytime sessions. The finger rhyme activities with these children had increased attention and active participation. The increased enthusiasm and attention may be due to the shorter duration of the finger rhymes and the increased physical interaction, compared to traditional storytelling, which allowed for more active participation to hold their attention and interest. Children embraced the finger rhymes asking “again, again!”;


The project has been successful: with increased engagement, increased listening skills, developing speech and language skills, and a visible engagement in children’s more expansive world learning.

Identified within the finger rhyme was the educational message and developing symbolic representation, and opportunity for children to experience a nurturing engaging environment.

Next Steps:

  • Continue to encourage stakeholders to the significance of implementing finger rhymes to children.
  • The creation of a library/basket of finger rhyme laminates (designed and drawn by the children) with resources/finger puppets to engage and encourage active participation in our developing finger rhyme programme.

Research implications

To be completed

Practitioner enquiry

To be completed

Leadership learning

To be completed

Author and role

To be completed

Comments from other network members

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