Trace your hands onto brightly colored paper, cut out the shapes, staple pairs together, stuff them with newspaper, and seal. Suspend hands from a coat hanger to make a hand mobile. You can also make a crawling path by securing single hands to the floor using clear contact paper.
Tie 1- or 2-foot strips of brightly colored cloth end-to-end to make a 4- to 6-foot streamer. Place the streamer in a shoebox with a slot in the lid. Slowly pull the streamer from the box, hand over hand, and talk about the changing colors. Encourage older children to try to try pulling the streamer on their own.
Place new, colorful sponges into a container of water. As you lift them out, talk about the colors and how you are squeezing the water out of each one. Invite a child to hold the sponge with you and encourage him to help squeeze the water. Older children can squeeze the water by themselves, just be careful to keep sponges out of mouths.
Cut fingers from old gloves to create your own set of finger puppets. Use bits of yam and markers to make faces and hair. Then have fun together. For instance, you might have finger puppet friends run away during "Thumbkin," tickle each other, and then hide behind babies.
Make squishy gel bags by partially filling large, air-tight plastic bags with clear hair gel, food coloring, and glitter. Tape the bags to a light table or secure thern to the floor and then give children time to explore.
Hands High - Hands Low
Trace children's hands onto colored paper and cut them out. Ask children to help you by reaching to tape their hands on a wall "up high." Then, ask them to bend over, touch "down low," and tape their hands along the bottom of the wall. Talk about "up and down" and "high and low" as the children move their bodies in different directions.
Use old socks stuffed with fabric to make sock balls. Knot each one at the end so children have a "tail" to hold. Place flat containers a few feet from the children and encourage them to toss the sock balls into the containers.
A Hand Shake
Cover large plastic jars with contact paper. Place small objects, such as toy cars, jingle bells, marbles, and blocks, into each one. Make sure the objects are made of different materials (wood, tin, plastic) so they produce different sounds. Replace the lids, shake the jars, and ask the children what they think is inside. Together, open the lids to find the answers.
What's On Hand?
Place adhesive strips on children fingers. Using markers, decorate the strips to turn them into finger puppets - animals, people, or even "portraits." Do a few for yourself. Then together, make up or retell stories using the finger puppets.
Hand it Over
Place small, familiar objects in old socks and tie each one securely. Hand them out and ask children to feel their sock and guess the mystery object. Open all the socks to discover the answers. Then try the game again.
This article originally appeared in the May, 2001 issue of Early Childhood Today.