Thursday, March 24, 2016

25 Literacy Activities About Health and Fitness

These literacy activities can be used during circle times, story times, and one-on-one with kids at home. Though they can be used any time of year, they will be especially useful for the 2016 CSLP Summer Reading program, On Your Mark, Get Set, Read!  The activities are divided into four health-related categories: Fruits and Vegetables, Play Time, Movement and Bodies, and Staying Well.

Fruits & Vegetables

  • Fruit Salad Salsa by the Laurie Berkner Band
    This fun dance number is great for use with shaker eggs. Make the experience even more fun by serving fruit salad!
  • Apples and Bananas by Raffi
    This classic Raffi song is a silly way of learning about vowel sounds, and also a great celebration of how much kids love apples and bananas.
  • At the Kitchen Door
    This Mother Goose rhyme is another activity where every child can take a turn. Ask each one his or her name, and which fruit or vegetable he or she likes to eat, and then fill in the rhyme accordingly.
  • Five Big Lemons
    This fingerplay can also be done as a flannel board. Recipes for Reading has a great example.
  • Banana Dance
    Dr. Jean's Banana Dance is the ideal way to get preschoolers and school-age kids moving around and having fun.
  • Five Fat Peas
    This basic counting fingerplay about peas that grow so big they pop can be used with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers.
  • I Like... So I Put Them in My Soup
    This activity is based on Laurie Berkner's song, "I Feel Crazy." Ask each child in turn to name a favorite vegetable or fruit, then sing the song's refrain using these lyrics. Encourage everyone to make a stirring motion on the final line.

    I like carrots so I put them in my soup.

    I like carrots so I put them in my soup.
    I like carrots so I put them in my soup.
    And then I stir up my soup!

Play Time

  • Here's a Ball for Baby
    This fingerplay explores the many different types of toys a young child might have.
  • Baseball Player
    This action song to the tune of "Are You Sleeping?" invites preschoolers to swing an imaginary baseball bat and hit the ball out of the park.
  • I'm a Little Red Kite
    By making a slight change to the lyrics to Heather McPheil's "I'm a Little Kite" piggyback song, you can create a lesson in colors that also celebrates the fun of flying kites. Simply change the first line from "I’m a little kite up in the sky" to "I'm a little red kite in the sky."
  • Ring a Round the Rosie
    This childhood favorite can be enjoyed as a group, or individual children can turn their hands and fall down on their own.
  • What Shall We Do When We All Go Out?
    This folk song has a set of lyrics which suggest different activities for kids to do outside. In a group setting, kids can also name their own favorite activities to add to the song. (The linked version is by Pam Donkin, but many artists have their own variations.)
  • Walking, Walking from Songs for WigglewormsThis simple song teaches kids to follow simple directions about walking, running, and stopping.
  • Ooki Na Kuri No Ki No Shita De (Under the Big Chestnut Tree) by Elizabeth MitchellThis song in English and Japanese celebrates the simple joy of playing with a friend underneath a shady tree. Elizabeth Mitchell provides movements for the song in this video.

Movement and Bodies

  • Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
    This song can be sung to its own traditional tune or adapted to match the tune of "London Bridge."
  • Tony Chestnut
    This song is great for babies, as you can sing or chant it while the baby is lying down and point to each part of the body as it is named. (The "nut" is the head.) It also works for older children, who can point to their own bodies, and who will be more likely to appreciate the wordplay.
  • Here We Go Up Up Up
    This simple song to the tune of Here We Go Looby Loo is a great way to help toddlers get their wiggles out and to learn how to follow simple directions. 
  • Turn Around by Hap Palmer
    The slow pace of this song makes it easy to follow for kids who are just learning to take direction. It's also a great winding down song for the end of story time, or as a precursor to rest time. 
  • Hands Up High
    This action song sung to the tune of "London Bridge" is another simple exercise in following directions that encourages kids to reach up high and stretch down low. 
  • Dance Your FingersThis action rhyme can be done sitting down because only your fingers have to dance. You can also adapt the rhyme so that there is a verse for each individual finger. 
  • Bag of Verbs
    Encourage kids to move while also teaching them new vocabulary. Print out and cut apart a list of action words, then have kids take turns choosing different verbs for everyone to act out together.  

Staying Well

  • This is the Way We Wash Our Hands
    Promote a healthy hand-washing habit with this take-off on Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush.
  • Brush Your Teeth
    Have every child pretend to brush his or her teeth along with this classic Raffi song. Not a fan of this one? Consider using the last verse of Jim Gill's Hands Are For Clapping instead.
  • John Brown's Baby
    This silly piggyback song based on the Battle Hymn of the Republic is all about a baby with a chest cold that needs to be rubbed with camphorated oil. There is a recording of this song on Wee Sing Silly Songs.
  • I've Got a Cold 
    This link goes to the Sick & Get Well Soon Storytime from Miss Barbara at the Library, in which this rhyme is listed as an "unused extra." 
For picture books related to these themes, see my On Your Mark, Get Set, Read! picture book reading list
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