Ball Play to the tune of Ten Little Indians

Sukey MolloyBall play has universal appeal for young children and is a great activity for the developing years. Ball play develops eye-hand and eye-foot coordination, builds steadiness and confidence in the emotions, and develops physical skills to take through life.

Ball skills begin by experimenting with fundamental “lead up” skills to set the groundwork for developing more complex skills later on.

Pre-walking babies can sit and “pat” a ball, and can “track” a rolling ball coming toward them across the floor.

Toddlers can pat a ball, and also spin, roll, toss and kick a ball. They can also toss a ball into a hoop.

Preschoolers can do all the above, and can also bounce a ball, catch it, toss it (at a target or into a hoop), and can even begin to dribble a ball.

In the PlayMove&Sing classes I teach, I include additional (non-traditional) ball play activities to create a special atmosphere of physical fun and discovery.


In addition to:

  • Patting
  • Spinning
  • Rolling
  • Tossing
  • Catching
  • Kicking

I invite babies, toddlers and preschoolers to:

  • Sit and bounce on the ball.
  • Sit and bounce on the ball while clapping.
  • Roll on the ball (on tummy) going forward and back.
  • Hold the ball between feet while lying down with legs lifted overhead.

In the song featured here, Pat the Ball (to the tune of “Ten Little Indians”), the lyrics highlight ball skills to try in rhythm while singing along.

Here’s a video clip of a PlayMove&Sing class in action in Nyack, NY. (ages ___ to ___).  We’re singing “Pat the Ball” while doing the actions described by the lyrics.

Click here to watch.

      Click here to listen to the “Pat the Ball” song from the Circle Songs CD
– audio

Click here to download the lyrics to “Pat the Ball”

Rhythm Play with Stix & Wooden Spoons

Each of us has a natural inner rhythm that corresponds to our own sense of personal expression. Young children thrive on connecting that personal sense of rhythm with physical action.

Offering fun objects to make sound with, and to create musical rhythmic patterns, gives valuable learning opportunities for exploration, rhythmic training, and eye-hand coordination. Tapping sticks and spoons together is both fun and instructive. Children love finding lots of ways to maneuver the sticks, and enjoy the freedom to experiment at their own pace while having physical fun.

Here’s a video clip of children (1 ½ – 3 yrs) in a PlayMove&Sing class with me in Nyack, NY. We’re singing If I Had Hands and tapping away. Click here to watch.

To join in the fun, place multiple pairs of wooden “stix” (or spoons) in a basket, pass them out, and watch the fun begin. When adding music, the rhythmic play event takes on a life of its own. Children can be invited to:

  • tap the stix together
  • tap them on the floor
  • tap high in the air
  • tap gently on the knees
  • tap gently on the nose
  • tap while marching
  • tap while dancing
  • tap behind the back, and so on

The song featured here, If I Had Hands, is based on the traditional tune “Skip to M’Lou”, and the lyrics have been changed up to create rhythmic training.

Click here to listen to song If I Had Hands – audio

Click here to download the song lyrics from I Like to Sing CD

To make your own rhythm stix:

  • begin with wooden dowels (3 ft, 6 ft, or 12 ft lengths)
  • cut the dowels down into 6 or 7 inch pieces
  • sand the ends of each stick
  • paint them (or leave them natural wood)
  • finish by covering them with a clear, child friendly, non-toxic coating


To make rhythm spoons, purchase plain, inexpensive wooden kitchen spoons, cut the handles down to 4 inches (6 or 7 inch total length with spoon end), paint them (or leave them natural wood), and coat them with a clear, non-toxic finish.



Rocking, Rolling and Turning Upside Down!

Babies and young children benefit greatly from physical activities that include rocking, swaying, rolling and turning. These physical motions stimulate the vestibular system which is located in the inner ear and is responsible for developing good balance. Children need lots of vestibular stimulation in the developing years, and they naturally enjoy repeating these motions over and over again. The sensation is pleasing and fun!

In the PlayMove&Sing classes I teach, I include songs and movements that offer rocking, swaying, turning, and rolling, along with lots of other motion options, to specifically include vestibular activity. The two songs featured here, Row Row Row Your Boat and Rocking in My Rocking Chair offer circle time lap-sit activities, as well as independent motion activities, and I use traditional melodies that are familiar to all, while changing up the lyrics to highlight the specific physical motions.

As a lap-sit, Row Your Boat and Rocking Chair are sung with baby or toddler seated on adult’s lap, with motions created by the movement of the adult’s legs, and by lifting the child in the air. As seen in the video clip, baby or toddler can also be placed tummy down on adult’s legs/shins (while on your back on the floor), and moving your legs forward, back, up and down.

As an independent activity for 2 ½ – 5 year olds, children sit on the floor rocking forward and back, and then upside down with feet overhead. It’s fun with this age group to sing the songs at different speeds, getting slower and quicker with each run through. It’s also fun to change up the lyrics with Rocking Chair to include bicycle leg motions and other creative body postures. Remember, children love to repeat, repeat, repeat!

Here’s a short video clip from a PlayMove&Sing mommy and me class (ages 1 ½ to 2 ½) at the Rockland County YMCA in NY. In the clip we’re singing Row Row Row Your Boat, followed by Rocking in My Rocking Chair. Sing and move along with us!

Click here to download lyrics to the two songs from the Circle Songs CD

      Click here to listen to Row Row Row Your Boat
– audio

      Click here to listen to Rocking in My Rocking Chair
– audio

Hello Play with Puppet

Play Move & SingHello Play and Goodbye Play serve an important role in creating special moments for children to connect with one another when gathering together. Special attention given to Greetings and Partings helps to bring a sense of welcome and belonging.

In my classes and performances, I always like to begin events with a special Hello song, accompanied by my hand puppet Sunflower, and Little Flower when singing Goodbye. One day in class, it dawned on me that the children and parents would enjoy having their own puppets to sing along with too, and I now begin and end every class with two baskets full of Sunflowerand Little Flower puppets for everyone to share.

The two songs I sing, Hello Everyone and Goodbye Everyone, are easy to learn, and are designed to include each child’s name as the circle time leader sings around the circle. It’s fun to include a gentle cheek touch from your puppet as you greet each child, and to allow time for children to play with their own puppets before singing. I invite children and parents to move the puppets up and down, side to side, round and round, and behind the back for peek-a-boo.

I first created my Sunflower and Little Flower puppets out of felt, and you can do the same. Simply outline the shape of your hand on paper in order to make the mitt pattern, then sew the two felt sides together, followed by sewing or gluing on faces. You can include petals, and a circle, to go around the faces by cutting shapes and sewing them into the mitt seam. (See patterns below – click to download).

Little FlowerLittle Flower PuppetSun FlowerSunshine Flower

I now make hand puppets for educators, librarians, parents, and children to enjoy in and out of the circle time setting, but I always encourage everyone to try making their own. It makes for a great family or classroom activity.

Here’s a short video clip from a PlayMove&Sing mommy and me class (ages 1 ½ to 2 ½) at the Rockland County YMCA in NY. In the clip, we’re singing Hello Everyone with our puppets, and the class is just getting under way. Sing along with us!

      Click here to listen to Hello Everyone - audio
      Click here to listen to Goodbye Everyone - audio

Click here to download lyrics to Hello Everyone and Goodbye Everyone from my Circle Song CD.

It’s Snowing!

When I was growing up, each winter with the first snow, my mother would sing, “it’s snowing, it’s snowing!” and we would run outside to play. My mother couldn’t recall where the melody came from, but she remembered that her father used to sing it to her when she was little. My mother always loved playing in the snow, and when I was older, we collaborated together to develop the song. This is what I wrote in my mother’s memory. It’s on my I Am Happy album.

This is a photo of my mother, Marguerite Purdy, posing in the snow.
Sukey's Mom

Click to listen to 


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Read the rest of my blog post for See Mom Work HERE.

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Read the rest of my blog post for Go Graham Go HERE.

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Read the rest of my blog post for Teaching Stars HERE.

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Read the rest of my blog post for Because Babies Grow Up HERE.

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Read the rest of my blog post for Momma’s Bacon HERE.

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