I often find myself feeling nostalgic as I pass by an elementary school playground and see children playing the same games I loved as a kid. Playground games are typically passed down from generation to generation with a minor tweak here or there. What’s great about sing-along hand games is that you’re never too old or out of shape to play. And the words pop right back into your head the minute you hear the lyrics! The biggest difference is now you ask yourself, “Who is Miss Mary Mack and why is she dressed in black to watch the elephants play?” No matter, we didn’t care then, and no need to care now. 

Hand clapping games are a welcomed break from screens and can teach a child a bit about coordination and rhythm. They also strengthen working memory and cognitive flexibility by requiring memorized verses and physical movement at the same time. With this in mind, this week’s activity, Sing-along Hand Games, will challenge ages. 

Besides being just plain fun, clapping games have other benefits. Studies have found that engaging in clapping games may lead to better social integration within groups as well as improvement in motor and cognitive skills. For younger children, the clapping can help develop basic motor skills, while in adults clapping games can relieve tension and stress.

Research has shown that Executive Function skills are the root of academic and SEL success in school and play is a natural way to practice them. Reflection Sciences and Playworks continue to strive to stress the importance of quality recess and play in school and at home.   

I am sad to say that as summer comes to an end and back-to-school season begins, this will be our last official post for #WhattheEFSummer 2021 fun. 

Over the past week, we created 12 Executive Function activities for you to enjoy with your children that focus on working memory, inhibitory control, and cognitive flexibility – three skills that are essential for classroom success. Knowing how important your child’s social development is, we based them on sound research and educational best practices and encourage you to continue to use them throughout the year. Be sure to bookmark our blog page for future reference. Until our next series of games, enroll in our FREE class.


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About the Author:

Carrie Fruin is the mother of three sons and grandmother of two. She taught high school science for over 25 years and still is active in STEM education.

She has a strong belief that all children can learn, and it is through the understanding of Executive Function (EF) skills and their relationship to Social-emotional learning (SEL) that will assist educators in reaching all children and providing them a true foundation for success in life.