Telling the story of five little ducks

Our preschool class has taken quite a liking to the “5 Little Ducks” finger play. They have consistently asked to sing this song throughout the whole school year. Recently, in one of our centers, we gave the children a chance to retell the story in a little more of a hands-on way.

There are quite a few different ways to sing this song, and in our class we sing it like this…

“5 little ducks went out one day,
over the hill and far away.
Mother duck said ‘Quack, quack, quack,’
but only 4 little ducks came back!”

We continue to repeat the song as the number goes down each time, and by the end, there are “zero little ducks” to sing about anymore!

Throughout the morning, the children would stop by the table to retell the story using the illustrations in Penny Dann’s adaptation of “Five little ducks”.

The students found it helpful to have one person flip through the pages as the other person told the story using our rubber duck family…

And when someone else wanted to tell the story, we could open the book right up and help each other along as we sing the song together!


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Spin-around game

My students love, and I mean love, playing all kinds of large motor games. If the children can spin, jump, run, or move about then they are just so happy. If I can’t think of a game, then I just make one up. This made up game is called the spin-around game.

How to Play

Invite the children to gather around in a circle. Choose one child to be the “spinner.” The spinner stands in the middle and cover his or her eyes and points out with one finger.

Now sing this song – you will have to make up a tune (or just chant it).

Spin (child’s name) spin,

Spin and spin again,

Spin (child’s name) spin,

Spin and “STOP!”


Whoever the “spinner” is pointing at now switches places with that child and the new “spinner” enters the middle of the circle. Now you can start the game again..

I love this game unless the spinner happens to point at me. I am too old to spin:)

More to Grow On!

15 Fabulous fingerplays and facts

Having a set of fingerplays in your toolbox of teaching skills is a must do for anyone working in an early childhood environment.

15 Fabulous Fingerplays and Facts by Teach Preschool, Pre-K Pages, and Prekinders!

Today, I am joining Pre-k Pages and Prekinders to bring you 15 fabulous fingerplays and facts. Each of us have chosen five to share so you will want to be sure to stop by Pre-K Pages and Prekinders to see the other ten!

Way up High in the Apple Tree

15 Fabulous Fingerplays and Facts by Teach Preschool, Pre-K Pages, and Prekinders!

Way up high in the apple tree,

Point up high

Five red apples looked at me.

Hold up five fingers

I shook that tree as hard as I could,

Pretend to shake the tree with both hands

Down came an apple,

Wiggle fingers down from the air

Mmmm, it was good.

Rub tummy!

Repeat with four, three, two, and one apple “smiled at me.”

Fingerplay Fact #1: Fine Motor Skills

“Way up High in the Apple Tree” helps young children to focus on each finger and the movement of their hands and fingers as they act out each part of the fingerplay. The development of fine motor skills can be reinforced by introducing a broad range of fingerplays to your children but they won’t know that they are exercising those small muscles. Instead, they will be just enjoying the process of moving their hands and fingers along with you.

I Had a Little Red Balloon

15 Fabulous Fingerplays and Facts by Teach Preschool, Pre-K Pages, and Prekinders!

I had a little red balloon

Pretend to hold a balloon in between your two hands.

And I blew, and I blew, and I blew.

Pretend to blow up the balloon.

And it grew, and it grew, and it grew.

Spread your two hands further and further apart.

I tossed it up in the air,

Pretend to toss the balloon up with your two hands.

And didn’t let it drop.

I bounced it on the ground,

Pretend to bounce the balloon on the ground with your two hands.

And it went “Pop!”

Clap your two hands together as you shout the word “Pop!”

Variation: Repeat only change the balloon (and your voice) to a great big or a teeny tiny balloon

Fingerplay Fact 2: Listening skills

As young children use their fingers and hands to represent or act out the words and actions in a fingerplay such a “I Had a Little Red Balloon,” they must listen to the story told within the fingerplay so they will know when it is time to blow up their balloon, when to make their balloon larger and larger, and when it is time to “Pop!”  Children learn to listen to one another and to the teacher as they focus on saying each phrase of the rhyme, acting it out together, and anticipating when they are supposed to clap their hands and say “Pop!”.

Five Little Popcorn Seeds

15 Fabulous Fingerplays and Facts by Teach Preschool, Pre-K Pages, and Prekinders!

Five little popcorn seeds sitting in a pot

Have the children squat down low 

One got hot and it went “Pop!”

Jump on the word “Pop!” 

Repeat with Four, three, two, one, and no more popcorn seeds sitting in the pot.

Variation: You may want to start with the number of children in your class rather than the number five.

Fingerplay Fact 3: Pre-Reading Skills

When you have a really short fingerplay where each line is repeated often, take the time to write the fingerplay out on large chart paper or a dry erase board. Having the fingerplay available to view in printed form will help the children begin to relate the printed words to the words they have now become familiar enough to say and act out.  A fingerplay such as “Five Little Popcorn Seeds” is perfect for creating predictable print since the only change in the rhyme is the number word. Having the words of a fun and well loved fingerplay available in printed form and adding a picture, where possible, to illustrate key words in the rhyme will help the children to view the printed words as something fun and familiar.

Hello Song

I Can Day - Day 2 062

Hello, hello,

Wave hand

Hello and how are you?

Point to the children

I’m fine, I’m fine,

Point to self

And I hope that you are too!

Point back to the children

Variation: Repeat with no sound just hand movements only

Fingerplay Fact 4: Creating Community

As young children participate together in singing, chanting, and acting out fingerplays, they feel a sense of happiness working and being together.  When using songs like the “Hello Song” the children feel a sense of belonging and as you look at the children while singing, they know that they are a valued member of their community.

Row Your Boat

15 Fabulous Fingerplays and Facts by Teach Preschool, Pre-K Pages, and Prekinders!

Invite each child to find a partner. Have the children face their partners in a sitting position and hold hands. Partners hold hands and move forward and backward together as you sing the song.

Row, row, row your boat

Gently down the stream

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily

Life is but a dream.

Variation: Sing the song slow and move slow then sing the song fast and move fast.

Fingerplay Fact 5: Large Motor Skills

As young children use their full bodies to act out the actions of a fingerplay, they are working to develop large motor skills such as balance and squatting or stretching.  Fingerplays and simple rhymes can add an element of active play into your circletime or anytime of the day which keeps little bodies moving and stretching while at the same time, building the ability to cognitively and physically control those large motor movements. As the children prepare to “pop” up at the end of “Five Little Popcorn Seeds,” mentioned above they must keep their balance and listen for that important cue that tells them it is time to “pop!” As the children work together to rock back and forth in “Row Your Boat” they must also work to keep their balance and coordinate their bodies to work together in a timely fashion.

Now be sure to head on over to Pre-K Pages and Prekinders 

to see the remaining ten fabulous fingerplays and facts

they have also prepared to share with you! 

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More with dinosaurs in preschool

We needed a quick song to sing with the children today so my colleague and I begin brainstorming dinosaur words that we could use to go with music we were already familiar with…

We had a few songs we had found in books but they were too long or complicated for us to actually remember without having to print out the words. We needed something quick, fun, and simple…

So after brainstorming a bit we landed on the tune “The Farmer in the Dell”.  We wanted the song to have movement so we decided that we could chomp, stomp, and roar like a dinosaur…

In the end our song went like this…

The dinosaur goes “roar!”

The dinosaur goes “roar!”

High Ho – Dino

The dinosaur goes “roar!”

Repeat the song and change the word “Roar” to “Stomp” and “Chomp”

Perfect song to go with our dinosaur headbands!!

Available on Amazon

Give the gift of music and language learning to your preschoolers

No Time Like the Present: How and Why to Give the Gift of Language Learning to Your Child(ren)

Written by my special guest Carolina Gomez.

Learning a language is enriching at any age, but it is more challenging when we are adults. Children are the ones who benefit the most simply because there is a special window of opportunity for learning where everything happens in a very natural process. Children are curious about the world around them, and that curiosity is a key element in the learning process.

Children are always excited about learning, so why not give them the opportunity to learn new words and explore different sounds in a new language?

There are many reasons why children should be exposed to a new language. First, children who understand there are more than a few ways to say the same thing inherently understand a bit about the links between language and culture and are better equipped to reach across divides of race, class, and ethnicity – both at home and abroad. No matter what your politics, we can all agree that this kind of deep understanding and broad awareness is important for the future of our planet. It has also been proven that bilingual individuals, or even individuals who have been exposed for at least 4 years to a foreign language, are more likely to score higher in standardized tests. Language skills are also vital for the 21st century workplace, with changing demographics across the US and the rise of China, India, and other nations in the world economy. Learning a language is also, quite simply, powerful brain exercise, and a young child’s brain is much more malleable than those of adults.

Children are also more capable of utilizing a native like- accent in a second language: children are always mimicking what they hear and are typically very good at reproducing those sounds.  Their ears are very tuned to identify different sounds that adults often cannot distinguish between. Studies have also shown that adults who had a exposure  to a language during childhood are more likely to end up speaking like a native. Muscles are flexible, and their tongue can move to different positions.

What can you do if you don’t have any knowledge of the language or feel that you don’t know enough? The fact that you are reading this means you are already doing something for your children. Your motivation will get them motivated.

Be a role model: Show them that you care about other cultures and languages, and share that passion with them. Even if you can’t afford the time or expense of foreign travel, there are many ways to expose them – even beyond television and books – to people of many different cultures right here in the US.

Make it fun and playful: children love to play, and playtime in a foreign language creates a natural environment to bring a new language alive.

Include Spanish time in your routine: It could be as little as five minutes, it doesn’t have to be a long period; believe me they benefit from everything and absorb it extremely fast.

Use short sentences in your daily routine (click here to listen to the sentences):

¡Vamos a cantar! Let’s sing!

¡Vamos a jugar! Let’s play!

¡Vamos a leer! Let’s read!

¡Es hora de la siesta! It’s nap time!

Find time to sing a song, play a game, listen to a story in a CD, find stories they already know in English. Remember that the primary goal is not to raise bilingual children, but to give them the opportunity to be exposed to another language and the benefits.

If you know someone who knows the language, invite them to  come to your class to sing a song or read a book.

Have fun trying these songs in Spanish with your class!

La Danza del Paracaidas (Parachute dance)

Los números – Numbers

Mi cara – My face

Adiós mis amigos – Good bye my friends

About the Author: Carolina grew up in Colombia, South America. She holds a Bachelors degree in Modern Languages from La Universidad del Valle in Colombia and a Masters in Intercultural Relations from Lesley University in Boston. Carolina enjoys teaching children her language and exploring the vibrant cultures of Latin America in a fun way and has been teaching languages to children for over 12 years in Colombia, Guatemala, and the United States – in private schools, public schools, and out-of-school settings. She is now a classroom K-3 Spanish teacher in Buckingham, Browne, and Nichols (BB&N) in Cambridge, MA. She is a member of MaFLA (Massachusetts Foreign Language Association) and ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages). In 2005, Carolina founded 1-2-3 Spanish Together, an early language music and curriculum designed to teach Spanish to children and their families and help other teachers learn the trade. She also shares a lot teaching tips on her new website for teachers Fun for Spanish Teachers and her blog.