Finger plays are usually simple rhymes, often sung, that are accompanied by finger and hand movements corresponding to the words being spoken. Finger plays are popular games for young children in nursery school and kindergarten in Western Europe and the United States. Two popular examples are "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" and "Where is Thumbkin?" While children may enjoy finger plays in and of themselves, many early childhood educators praise these games as useful educational tools. Educational philosopher Rudolf Steiner claimed that finger plays develop dexterity and encourage brain development and clear thought.
Finger plays hit the height of their popularity in the Victorian era; one popular Victorian book of finger plays, Emilie Poulsson's Finger Plays for Nursery and Kindergarten, has been republished by Dover Publications. The author asserts that the youngest of children learn first from imitation, and that finger plays are a fun way to teach them.