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!