Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes

Written By: Mem Fox

Illustrated By: Helen Oxenbury

Before Reading

Explore Illustrations

Consider the cover with your child before opening the book. Say something like, “Look, there is a baby swinging like this!” as you rock your child in your arms or on your lap to simulate a swing. You can also say, “This baby has ten little fingers and ten little toes just like you. Let’s count your toes and fingers. One, two, three...” Even with very young children, it is important to make a connection between the child and the book before you begin reading.

As You Read

Vocabulary Building

Describe everything you see as you read, by saying things like “ Look, all of these babies are friends.” or “Aww, this baby is sick and has to take medicine so that he can get better.” Also, as you are reading, point to different elements in the illustrations and tell your child their names. For example, when you are reading “And another in a tent, who was just as nice,” point and say, “This is a tent. And those are chickens.” If your child is slightly older, you can also ask him/her to name or point to the different things in the illustrations by asking, “Can you point to the mommy? What is this?”

Making Connections

As you are reading, you can take on the roll of the narrator and when describing the child who is “mine, all mine”, say, “Who do you think that child is? It’s you! You are the sweet little child that is mine, all mine” and finish off the story with three little kisses on your child’s nose just as the mother does to the baby in the book.

After Reading

Summarize and Interpret

Asking questions is a helpful way to encourage your child to think about what s/he has just experienced. Regardless of understanding, ask about the story and the babies in it. For little ones, you can ask questions and then provide the answers yourself. Questions might include:

Can you show me your favorite picture?

Did you like the story?

What do all of these babies have in common?

Activity: Handprint Keepsakes or Crafts

Source: Make Life Lovely

Supplies: Construction paper, washable non-toxic paint, a paintbrush, paper plates, and an 8.5x11 picture frame (optional)

DIY Embossed Metallic Handprints, by Make Life Lovely.jpg

Whether you want to create a keepsake that reminds you of this time in your child’s life or you are just looking for a craft to keep your little one entertained, this is an easy and fun activity to turn your child’s handprints into a work of art.

For Keepsake:

  1. Decide what color your child’s prints will be. Pour some paint onto a paper plate and use the paintbrush to cover his/her palms and fingers with an even layer of paint.
  2. Gently press his/her hands down on the center of the page and make sure that they are laying completely flat.
  3. Wash the paint off of your child’s hands and then write his/her name and age on the paper. Now just place the print in the frame and choose where you want to display it!

For Craft:

  1. Pour different colored paints onto paper plates.
  2. Let your child press his/her hands into each color and make different prints on the page. S/he can also use individual fingers to draw pictures as well.


See For Yourself!

Watch Mem Fox present two song versions of her story Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes. You can use this melody as a playful tune for reading this story or as a lullaby to sing your child off to sleep!


Parent’s Corner

Source: CDC

As your child begins to speak, it is important to engage in conversation with him/her. This includes answering when your child makes babbles and sounds by repeating the sounds made and then adding words. This habit will teach your child how to use language as s/he gets older. If your child is already beginning to speak, try not to correct his/her grammar, but rather casually repeat the sentence using the right words or sentence structure. Check out more child development tips here.