Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Itsy-Bitsy Spider Fun at Home

The Itsy Bitsy Spider, also sometimes sung as the Eensy Weensy Spider is a fun way to work on fine motor skills and dexterity in a playful way during Sound Beginnings class.  For young children, making fingers move independently and do just what they want can be frustrating and challenging.  Like the hero of our song, they'll have to overcome some obstacles and keep trying again and again to get their fingers to climb that spout!

Step-by-Step Instructions
When we adults demonstrate the spidery finger motions that go along with this song, youngsters are amazed by our dexterity! This website can teach you if you're not a master yet! 

Help your toddler by teaching with this washable-marker finger-painting trick, and by breaking actions down step-by-step. 
"Hold up both fists like me. Now point to the sky. Keep those fingers up, and let your thumbs come out." This may require some serious thinking, so leave time for figuring it out.

"I'm going to add some color dots to your fingers."  Put a red dot on one index finger and the opposite thumb.  Put a black dot on the other index finger and opposite thumb.
"Now make the red dots touch each other. Keep them touching...now make the black dot touch the other black dot."

"Keep the black touching, but let the reds come apart....weee...and then rotate them around so they can touch again. Now the black dots come apart...weee.  Keep climbing as we sing... it's okay to go slowly!"

Finger Puppet Fun
Here's a spidery finger puppet originally from Lalymom that's just right for Sound Beginnings students. Spiders have eight legs, so the fun comes when four of the legs are actually your kiddo's fingers, dancing and climbing and wiggling just like you'd expect.

Here's a clever time-saving tip for working with craft foam: use a plastic lid and a marker lid to PRESS into the craft foam instead of having to trace the shape.  

Materials Needed:
  Black craft foam
  Googly Eyes
  Pipe cleaners (2 black, 1 red)
  Plastic lid for pressing
  Marker lid for pressing
  Scissors, Glue

1. Place the lid on black foam and press down. Use scissors to complete the cutting of the imprinted circle. Press 4 circles (using the marker's lid) for finger holes. Complete cutting with scissors.
2.  Use scissors (or a pen) to poke 2 holes on each side for the black pipe cleaners, and feed them through the back. No need to cut them- they should be the right length.

3. Glue on eyes.

4. Poke 2 more holes below the eyes.  Fold red pipe cleaner in half and feed through the holes to make the mouth.  Now your puppet is ready to wear!

As a PIANO teacher, of course I love this particular puppet because I see some opportunity to encourage even more early finger control and dexterity in a fun way.  Make a spider for yourself, too, so you and your child can:

* Make your spider jump to the rhythm of the song while we sing (tap all fingers simultaneously on the table)
* Make your spider walk slowly (each finger taps one at a time-tricky!)
* Make your spider dance really fast (drum your fingers on the table)
* Make your spider copy mine (make up some spidery dances- 1,2,1,2 etc.)
* Repeat everything with a spider on your other hand
And of course...*Let's have our spiders go tickle someone (Daddy, Mommy, Sister, etc.)!

Spider Legs Build Strong Fingers
Strengthen fingers in yet another way with this game of adding and removing legs. You create a spider body from foam sheet and googly eyes, and the legs are bag clips.  Little hands and fingers get stronger from practice squeezing and controlling those clips.

We want to see YOUR cute spiders! Post pictures of any of your spidery crafts in the comments or on our Facebook Page!

Spiders Going Up Up Up
My other favorite spider craft is a little guy from this website that actually goes up and down his string.  Your child can make him go up and down as you sing together, visualizing the words of the song in action.

I also like to sing "up up up" (going up a scale in pitch) as the spider climbs up, and "down down down" (decreasing pitch).  If you have an older child in the Red Balloons semester of Let's Play Music, she should be really helpful at singing for your spider. Play glissandos on the piano or other instrument, too, to match your busy spider.

  One paper plate, painted black by your child
  Googly eyes
  One drinking straw
  String or yarn, beads for the ends
  Scissors, tape

1.  Cut the corrugated section off and save it. So you have one black circle.
2.  Trim the round shape to make it into a more spidery figure-8 shape.
2. Cut the corrugated section into 8 pieces and staple them on for legs. (Kids love to do the stapling!)
3. Glue or paint eyes.
4. Flip spidey over and tape down 2 short segments of drinking straw.
5. Thread the yarn through the straws and attach something (bead, broken crayon, whatever) to the bottom.
6. Attach the yarn up high, and as your child pulls the beads apart, the spider climbs.

A second climbing spider can be found HERE. Still uses string and beads, but instead of threading through straws, you will punch holes in a cardboard tube. Everyone's got a cardboard tube at home, right?

We want to see YOUR spider in action!  Post photos or videos to our Facebook Page!

Who Else Can Play?
Red Balloon students will show off their major scales ascending and descending, but the rest of the family can help your spider sing, too, with this handy CHORD MAP to print off.  

If you have an autoharp at home, of course you'll want to use it, but second and third year students (and parents) can play piano chords to accompany your spidery song, and graduates will even be ready to transpose it to other keys!

Wind Down with Storytime
The story of our spider friend is fairly short, but several authors have expanded the story in sing-along picture books.  I enjoy the version by Iza Trapani (and her other singable storybooks), because we find out what the spider does in addition to climbing water spouts all day! Find it at your library or Amazon.

If your child is interested in spiders, pick up some more nonfiction books from the library to learn amazing facts like: Spiders are covered in water-repellant hairs.  That means they don't get wet when water hits them, they can float, many can live underwater for long periods, and...they can climb right back up the waterspout!

-Gina Weibel, M.S.
Let's Play Music teacher

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