Brain Tool #19: Hand Dance

Play Daily with This Sequence to Boost Your Brain:

The following “Hand Dance” sequence may be done with or without music.

1. Begin by gently massaging the palms, fingers and fingertips as you breath deeply from the belly
2. Now, brush the hands back and forth as you count, “1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8″
3. Next, clap the hands as you count, “1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8″
4. Next, slowly squeeze the palms  together  on a count of “8″ while breathing deeply with the eyes closed
5. Now, wiggle all 10 fingers on a count of “8″ as if playing the piano
6. With both hands simultaneously, touch each finger to your thumb beginning with index and ending with pinky. Repeat by reversing the order without stopping for a total of 8 counts
7. Repeat steps 2-6 from memory!
8. When finished — Shake wrists gently to loosen hand muscles while breathing from belly

Hand Dance Variations to Inspire Flexible Thinking:

1. Do the sequence with a partner — mirroring one another’s movements
2. Face your partner’s back and  do the sequence on their back, making the appropriate adjustments (i.e. tap their back rather than clap, for example). Your partner will do the sequence as usual. Switch direction
3. Do the sequence with your eyes closed
4. Do the sequence standing on one leg
5. Cut a “swimming noodle” in half and place it on the floor, round-side up. Stand and walk on the noodle while you do the sequence!
6 Do the sequence with different styles of music or while humming
7. Add your own additional steps!

What’s Unique About This BrainTool:

1. 1/4 of our motor cortex is dedicated to the muscles of the hands
2. Hand dexterity & movement supports proprioceptive awareness (our mind-body’s ability to know where we are in space in relation to our immediate environment)
3. The Hand Dance sequence improves mental engagement and focus
4. Integrating the same or similar Hand Dance into academic learning improves memory and retention (for example, thinking or speaking math facts or spelling words while doing the Hand Dance)
5. The Hand Dance is an effective warm-up prior to support writing and keyboarding skills