While putting your hands together and clapping them may seem like a no-brainer, the complex coordination that it takes to clap can help your little one to improve his motor and cognitive development. Turn learning and skill building into fun-filled play with a few clapping games that can help your child to develop his motor abilities as he tackles new educational tasks.
Keep the Beat
Set up a metronome -- or, if you don't have one, use a rhythmic drum-fueled piece of music -- and ask your child to clap to the beat in time. Use this game to teach your child about music, introducing words such as beat, tempo and rhythm as she claps along. You can also translate this game into math learning. Have your child count as she claps to the beat. By age 4, some children can count up to 10, according to PBS Parents. If you have a grade schooler, encourage her to count by 10. For example, with each beat your child would say, "10, 20, 30, 40, 50" and so on.
Pat-a-Cake and Beyond
The nursery rhyme "Pat-a-cake" along with it's accompanying finger and hand play is a clapping game that can help your young child to build fine motor skills. Using such a literacy-based exercise not only gets your child's hands moving, but also helps him to increase language and listening abilities. Speak the words clearly to him as he claps with you and repeats them back. Another similar game is "Miss Mary Mack." Dating back to Civil War times, this traditional clapping rhyme includes your child clapping her hands against yours and on her knees in rhythm to the words.
You can make up your own type of pattern play activity. Help your child to learn the basic math skill of pattern-making by having him come up with his own hand clap rhythm. For example, he can do two short claps, one clap, two short claps, one clap and so on. He can also create a pattern with the sound of the claps, alternating loud and soft noises.
Follow the Leader
If you're looking for a way to help your child follow the rules, build listening skills or increase her ability to pay attention, try a clapping follow-the-leader game. You set the pace, clapping for your child first. She has to watch and listen to what you are doing, remember the clap sequence and repeat it back. As your child gets better at following your lead, make the clapping more complex. For example, start with a series of five claps and gradually move up to song-like rhythms.