Nora is exploring Nursery Rhymes! At 18 months she loves to play with some plastic Humpty Dumpty and Old Woman in the Shoe toys. She has no concern about memorization or rhyming – she just loves to manipulate the toys and yell out “Humpy Dumpy!” But I know that she is developing essential language skills when she explores the rhythm and patterns of these rhymes. She is gaining phonemic awareness as she plays with words, she is learning vocabulary when I explain words like broth, fleece, fiddle and curds and whey. She is starting to sing some of the rhymes and she echoes the inflection of our voices as we emphasize different parts of the rhymes. Nursery Rhymes are part of our culture and I think it is important for children to experience them. In Kindergarten these rhymes can be used to enhance early reading skills in lots of ways.
One of my favorite ways to use Nursery Rhymes was to retell them. Each rhyme is really a miniature story that children can act out, sing or retell from memory. They gain confidence in retelling when they are repeating something they are so familiar with. I was very excited to find some wonderful clipart images of Nursery Rhymes on my Kidoodlez Early Years CD. Most of the pictures I am sharing are from this CD, please visit them at djinkers.com.
Here are some pictures of the characters from a variety of rhymes that could be used as necklaces or stapled onto headbands. When the children act out these short rhymes they are speaking, listening and moving. Because they are so short it is easy to take turns and let lots of children actively participate.
The child playing Humpty Dumpty could sit on a low table or stool, then “fall” off!
You could draw a large shoe shape on paper for all the children to try to fit into!
For this retelling I would put moveable hands on the clock so the children can turn the hands and point to 1:00.
It would be fun if they had a real horn to blow, and you could cut out some corn for the corn field and flowers for the meadow! The haystack could be taped onto a chair and Little Boy Blue could “sleep” behind it.
You could also make stick puppets with these characters by taping them onto paint sticks or tongue depressors.
I also created some small stand up figures to go along with each Nursery Rhyme. You could run these off as they are, or cut them apart and use them as stick puppets too! Children can manipulate these figures as they retell the rhyme.
Here is Humpty’s wall along with the haystack from Little Boy Blue.
Jack and Jill
Jack Be Nimble
Little Miss Muffet
Mary Had a Little Lamb
Hey Diddle Diddle
The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe
Here is an example of the stand up figures from Little Boy Blue.
I did a bit of cut and pasting to make pictures that the children could cut out and put together in the right sequence. Using these pictures would also be helpful for kids learning the rhymes.
Nursery Rhymes provide great practice with concepts about print, one to one word correspondence and early reading. Because the children sing and memorize these rhymes most of them are successful “reading” them. I loved putting the words into a pocket chart or posting a large copy of the rhymes on the wall for children to read. I put together this sheet of characters that could be taped onto tongue depressors or popsicle sticks to make reading pointers. Great for reading the room!
I was thinking that I would also like to keep a set of these sticks in a can at circle time. It would be fun to have a child pull out a rhyme for the class to remember and recite when you have a few minutes to fill.
Here is a die I made that you could use to reinforce the rhymes or put at a center. You could run this off on cardstock and tape it together. When I wanted to make a cube that was more sturdy I got 2 empty milk cartons from the school cafeteria. I cut them off so they were square cubes, and pushed one inside the other. Then you could cover it with paper or contact paper, or just glue the pictures onto each side. These milk carton cubes are almost indestructible!
I also made this little board game as another opportunity to practice the rhymes. The children could use buttons or coins as markers, and a spinner or die.
Here is another activity, the children need to identify which pictures are from the same Nursery Rhyme. There are 2 pictures that go along with the first picture in each row. The children cut them out and glue them on so there are 3 in a row from each different rhyme.
I don’t really think that Nursery Rhymes are the best way to introduce or teach the skill of rhyming because there are really not very many rhyming words in these chants, and the rhymes are far apart. But they can be good for reinforcing rhyming. For this activity the children cut apart the pictures and find the 2 words that rhyme and then glue them next to each other on the recording sheet.
I hope you can use some of these ideas to have fun with Nursery Rhymes with the children in your life too!