Clapping Games Build Brainpower

clapping games increase attention, rhythmic clapping helps focus,

In our family, changing the lyrics to “If You’re Happy and You Know It Clap Your Hands” is essential to the song. We substitute words like sillygrumpy, snotty, and even verklempt for “happy.”  Making up appropriate accompanying motions, well, that’s the fun part.

Apparently hand-clapping rhymes and songs are actually linked to cognitive skills. Research by Dr. Idit Sulkin, of the Ben-Gurion University Music Science Lab, found that young children who naturally play hand-clapping games are better spellers, have neater handwriting, and better overall writing skills.

Intrigued, she conducted further research. For ten weeks she engaged groups of children, ages 6 to 10, in a program of either music appreciation or hand-clapping. Very quickly the children’s cognitive abilities improved, but only those taking part in hand-clapping songs.

She also interviewed teachers and joined in when children sang in their classrooms. She was trying to understand why they tend to enjoy hand-clapping songs until a certain age, when other activities such as sports become dominant. Dr. Sulkin observed, These activities serve as a developmental platform to enhance children’s needs — emotional, sociological, physiological, and cognitive. It’s a transition stage that leads them to the next phases of growing up.”

Interestingly, Dr. Sulkin also found that hand-clapping songs benefit adults. When adults engage in these games from childhood they report feeling less tense and their mood improves. They also become more focused and alert.

Clapping and singing, clapping and chanting. There’s a reason these activities are found across all cultures in storytelling, religious ceremonies, solemn rituals, and joyous celebrations.  The experience of calling and clapping may speak to something deeper in us.  Maybe we all should play a round of Miss Suzy or See See My Playmate at the start of every political debate, business meeting, or extended family get-together.

7 thoughts on “Clapping Games Build Brainpower”

  1. hi,

    It would be interesting to know more about the mechanism behind this. Why di clasping games build brain power? Which ones? The link didn’t work for me.

  2. I agree with Mari K, where is the research paper and are there some rhymes that are better than others or can it just be anything and include invented stuff as well?

    However, I am also going to step up clapping games and rhymes with my kids.

  3. Sorry, the original link to the Ben-Gurion University (giving access to the research paper) seems to be broken. I’ve changed the link, now going to an article about the research in Science Daily.

  4. Creating and re-creating complex movement patterns that cross over from one side to the next (left to right, right to left) and from one person to another helps build brain connections across the two hemispheres. Plus, they’re just so darn fun that kids and adults too want to continue playing, and developing new patterns and new neural connections and pathways! Bravo for playful movement!

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