Singing and Dancing to Open Shut Them

Beloved Finger Plays
As a professional educator, when I think of nursery rhymes I picture a toddler’s round smiling face, eyes bright with delight as they clap their hands. No one is certain where or when this fingerplay started but it has been a favorite of 3-4 year old preschoolers for generations. In this article I will explain the different benefits of “Open Shut Them“, and how it can help you bond with your preschooler.
Early Literacy
The words of this finger play provide an early literacy experience through listening and repetition. All the words are so commonly used, the young child will learn them through hearing several times. Children can also learn to recognize rhyme through the similar “ap” and “in” endings in “clap”, “lap”, “in” and “chin”.

Following Directions
Children also learn how to follow directions through this finger play. They will watch you and mirror your movements. Through listening and moving their hands, they will connect meaning with each word.

Singing this universal nursery rhyme also introduces your child to rhythm and melody. In this simple song, children are learning visually, kinesthetically and through listening.

The young child practices coordination as they move their fingers to the melody. She will get a sense of direction as her hands go up and down according to the movements of the song. She also gets the concept of ‘in’ and ‘out’ by the last line of the nursery rhyme. By the end of this song, your child should be able to identify body parts: her hands, her lap, and her chin.

Educational Experiences
As a parent you can extend learning for your preschooler by adding to these fun lyrics. The movements teach your baby about opposites. After singing, you can discuss the movements to help your preschooler identify opposites and directionality. “Where are my hands? In my mouth? or out?” Babies can roll their hands and shake them instead of “open” and “shut” them.
Substituting different words extends vocabulary and helps your child practice following commands. The more activities you do with this song, the more exercise you and your child both get!

As an activity you can do with your preschooler, You bond together as he imitates your movements and follows your lead. Encouraging this physical activity encourages movement, flexibility, happiness and positive energy. As an early literacy exercise, the more words you plug in, the more vocabulary your child builds.
For example, ‘wave’ could be substituted for ‘creep’. Another idea, try to find words that fit with the season or holiday. ‘Swim’ or ‘stroke’ could stand in for ‘creep’. “‘Pat’, ‘flutter’ or other action words encourage creative movement.

Finger plays have stood the test of time as a fun way to teach and train young minds by mothers and teachers alike. These nursery rhymes engage children’s learning in variety of ways. Open Shut Them is one of many that help children learn as they grow.