Hokey Pokey Dance

Hokey Pokey Dance

Location: indoor or outdoor

Materials: none

The Hokey Pokey might not be your favorite song, but it is a trusty example of a movement song that helps kids practice crossing the midline.

Wait, what is the midline?

The "midline" exists in both the brain and in the body. Crossing the midline in the brain means the left and right sides of the brain are communicating with each other. Because the different sides of the brain are responsible for carrying out different tasks, it is important that they are communicating effectively.

On a physical level, the midline means an invisible vertical line that runs up and down the center of the body, separating right from left. Crossing the midline in a physical sense means moving an arm or leg across this invisible line to the other side of the body.

So why is it important to cross the midline?

Typically between the ages of 2-3 years old children develop a preference for a dominant hand. Developing a dominant hand is an important step in fine motor development, and what allows children to develop different types of strengths for each hand (example: the hand holding the paper steady and the hand manipulating the pencil or scissors). If you notice a child continuing to switch hands when drawing or eating beyond the age of 3, it likely may be an inability to cross the midline.

An example of refusing to cross the midline might look like this: a child is eating at the table with their fork in their right hand. The child wants to reach for a piece of brocolli that is in the upper left corner of the plate. Instead of reaching with the fork in the right hand, the child switches the fork to the left hand and reaches with the left hand.

What's one way to practice crossing the midline?

Singing and dancing along to the Hokey Pokey is one way to give kids practice in getting their limbs across the midline. The main thing to keep in mind is you want to have your kids shoulders angled to the inside of the circle, so they're actually crossing their bodies to get their limbs in. If they're just going straight in and out, it won't have the same effect.

What We're Learning:

  • self-expression
  • fine and gross motor development
  • language and vocabulary development
  • crossing the midline (and other pre-writing skills)
  • following instructions