Clap, clap, clap, clap your hands – and reap neurological benefits

Hand-clapping songs are not idle play; they have legitimate neurological value.  Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) conducted the first study on hand-clapping songs.  The study found that “hand-clapping songs improve motor and cognitive skills” (Science Daily).

Dr. Idit Sulkin, of BGU, went to elementary schools and engaged children either in school board sanctioned music appreciation programs or hand-clapping songs training, each program lasting for 10 weeks.  At the end of the ten weeks, children who underwent the hand-clapping songs training and had not taken part in hand-clapping songs until that point “caught up in their cognitive abilities to those [children] who did” (Science Daily).  The finding, however, applied only to children who participated in hand-clapping songs; those children in the board of education sanctioned musical appreciation program did not show the cognitive gains obtained by those children participating in hand-clapping songs.

Hand-clapping games are great for kids' socialization and neurological development.

Hand-clapping songs serve as a “developmental platform to enhance children’s needs – emotional, sociological, physiological and cognitive” (Science Daily).  Yes, your child might want to play Suzy Q fifteen times a day, and yes, it probably gets old, but play along!  Even adults reap benefits from hand-clapping songs: once adults “‘start clapping, they report feeling more alert and in a better mood'” (Science Daily).  Perhaps we could all use some more hand-clapping songs in our lives! Some Brainjogging favorites:

Miss Mary Mac
Miss Mary Mac, Mac, Mac
All dressed in black, black, black
With silver buttons, buttons, buttons
All down her back, back, back
She asked her mother, mother, mother
For fifty cents, cents, cents
To see the elephants, elephants, elephants
Jump over the fence, fence, fence
They jumped so high, high, high
They reached the sky, sky, sky
And they never came back, back, back
‘Til the Fourth of July, -ly, -ly!

*Clap, pat, clap, touch hands three times; repeat for each line.

Double, Double
Double, double, this, this;
Double, double, that, that;
Double, this;
Double, that;
Double, double, this, that!

* “Double, double” – pat, pat
“This, this” – clap, clap (palms facing partner)
“That, that” – clap, clap (palms facing self; hands’ backs touch)
“This, that” – clap, clap (palms facing partner for “this,” palms facing self for “that”)

Also use:

Sara Bernstein's "Hand Clap!" includes several alternate hand-clapping rhymes.


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