Spanish Finger Plays

Spanish has a wealth of traditional finger plays, rhymes and songs for children. Kids love games with actions, and these are perfect language learning tools. Music, movement, and rhyme combine to enhance a child’s understanding and retention of Spanish.

Below are a few of my favorite finger plays to do with preschoolers. I have included videos, translations and a printable version of the Spanish rhymes.

Find more traditional nursery rhymes on our poetry resource page Spanish Poems for Kids.

Saco una manito (una manita)
In Mexico and Spain, the diminutive of la mano (hand) is la manita. In other countries, it is la manito. It doesn’t matter which one of the two forms you sing, as long as you are consistent.

This is one of the first finger plays that Spanish-speaking children learn. It can be recited as a rhyme or sung. The first video recites the finger play and in the second you can hear the tune. The song on the second video is from the CD Cantando con Adriana Vol. 2 by Adriana Szusterman.

Saco una manito. La hago bailar, / I take out one hand. I make it dance.
La cierro, la abro y la vuelvo a guardar. / I close it, I open it, and I put it away again.
Saco otra manito. La hago bailar, / I take out the other hand. I make it dance.
La cierro, la abro y la vuelvo a guardar. / I close it, I open it, and I put it away again.
Saco las dos manitos. Las hago bailar, / I take out two hands. I make them dance.
Las cierro, las abro y las vuelvo a guardar. / I close them, I open them, and I put them away again.

Si yo pongo mis dos manos para arriba
Si yo pongo mis dos manos para arriba is a rhyme that children learn in preschool in Latin America. The actions perfectly reinforce the meaning of the words and it is an easy rhyme for little children to learn.

Si yo pongo mis dos manos para arriba, / If I put my two hands up
mis dos manos tocan el cielo. / my two hands touch the sky.
Si yo pongo mis dos manos para abajo, / If I put my two hands down,
mis dos manos tocan el suelo. / my two hands touch the ground
Arriba, arriba, el cielo, / Up, up, the sky
abajo, abajo, el suelo. / down, down the ground.
Mis dos manos dicen chau, / My two hands say goodbye
y se van a descansar. / and go to rest.

Cinco ratoncitos
Kids love Cinco ratoncitos because the mice have to run and hide when the cat comes to eat them. It is a beginning counting rhyme that only goes to five.

Cinco ratoncitos / Five little mice
de colita gris / with little gray tails
mueven las orejas, / move their ears,
mueven la nariz. / move their noses.
¡Uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, / One, two, three, four, five,
corren al rincón! / they run to the corner!
Porque viene el gato, / Because the cat is coming
a comer ratón. / to eat mouse!

Mi carita redondita
Kids love this song, especially the part where they get to pretend to sneeze. It is good for teaching parts of the face and related verbs. The verbs in the fourth line vary in different versions, but they are always some combination of llorar, cantar, hablar and reir. The last line varies too, between palomitas de maíz and heladitos de maní.

The lyrics below are the ones I teach to my preschoolers. There are many videos of preschoolers and classes singing Mi carita redondita on YouTube and many have the lyrics on the screen. Just search the title of the song.

Mi carita redondita, / My round face
tiene ojos y nariz, / has eyes and a nose
y también una boquita / and also a mouth
para cantar y reir. / to sing and laugh.
Con mis ojos veo todo / With my eyes I see everything
con mi nariz hago atchís! / with my nose I go achoo
con la boca como ricas palomitas de maíz / with my mouth I eat delicious popcorn

La araña pequeñita
There are many versions of this traditional finger play in Spanish. In some of the variations, the spider is spinning her web or climbing a wall when the rain comes. I teach the version that closely matches the English words. It is the one that has been recorded by José-Luis Orozco, Susan Barchas y De colores and Cantarima.

La arana pequeñita subió, subió, subió. / The little spider went up, up, up
Vino la lluvia y se la llevó. / The rain came and washed it away
Salió el sol y todo lo secó. / The sun came out and dried up everything
Y la araña pequeñita subió, subió, subió. / And the little spider went up, up, up

You can find more resources for teaching and expanding on this rhyme at the end of The Itsy Bitsy Spider in Spanish

Photo Credit: jessleecuizon via Compfight cc


Spanish Learning Songs from Sing 'n Speak Spanish
Spanish Black History Month Resources