We all know about cows jumping over the moon and mice running up clocks, but let’s take a second to think a little more about all of the things we can do with the ubiquitous nursery rhyme.
This may seem like a very simple activity, but if used to it’s full advantage it can pack a real educational punch. Seriously, you can address more than a dozen learning objectives (if anyone is interested, I’d be happy to list them, but otherwise, I’ll spare you.)
Getting the most out of nursery rhymes:
One of our morning routine staples is our weekly nursery rhyme.
-Each week I write a new nursery rhyme on our school board. We use dry erase because it’s easy to change, buto you could use anything as long as it’s big enough for you little one to easily see and circle specific words/letters.
-Maxwell uses pointer to touch each word as we read. Knowing to read top to bottom and left to right is called directionality of print in case you’re ever interested in reading through state prek standards 😉
-Then we act out any portion of the rhyme that can be acted out (not always possible, but be creative). This is a great way to engage younger siblings Examples: jumping over a pretend candle stick for Jack Be Nimble Jack Be Quick, Having a mouse cutout run up and down a clock for Hickory-Dickory-Dock
-Identify, circle, and/or count various sentence components throughout the rhyme: focus letter, words, spaces, numbers, color words, punctuation, and anything else that makes sense.
-Draw pictures and do crafts related to rhyme
-Have child “read” the rhyme to other family members
-Keep the same rhyme all week (or longer), but change it in small ways to encourage observation skills and to focus on more skills. Example: this week we’ll be doing “Brown bear, Brown Bear” and I’ll change the colors and commands. Last week we did “Jack Be Nimble” and I changed the position word-jumped under, beside, on.
-When you erase the rhyme have your kiddo help by strategically erasing the sentence components you counted and circled earlier. This is a great no effort review activity.
Easily modified to reach wide range of abilities
-For more advanced/older kids have them add words, write in letters you’ve purposefully omitted, discuss which letters you have more/less of, and incorporate sight words.
-For younger kids focus on the musicality of the rhymes, the fun actions, and simple letter identification.
-If child struggles to indicate where you should start reading, draw a smiley face at the top left of the rhyme.
Choosing a nursery rhyme:
-Keep it short. We’re talking less than 30 seconds to read. I usually shoot for 2-6 lines and can increase as Maxwell gets older, but for the two to five year old range keep it simple
-You can do excerpts longer rhymes
-Think seasonal, thematic, and/or what’s going on with your family. If you’re going to the rodeo do Old Mcdonald. If it’s the holidays do a little of Frosty the Snowman (not traditionally a nursery rhyme, but hey, whatever works)
-Find rhymes that have actions or sounds built in.
-Use rhymes that can be easily changed. NON-Example: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star may be nice, but really there’s not much you can do with it. Example: Hey Diddle Diddle can be changed in a million ways by altering animals and actions