Listening and speaking are the foundation for reading and writing, and as teachers we know the importance of reading to children from a very young age.
But just as important is hearing and learning nursery rhymes. Back in the day I learnt all my nursery rhymes bouncing around on relative’s knees, and would proudly show of my ability to ‘read’ my nursery rhyme book wrong-ways round back to front, reciting all the nursery rhymes that are still emblazoned on my memory to this day.
When I became a teacher I began to notice as the years went by that less and less children knew nursery rhymes. Maybe due to increased technology, more audio visual stimuli, or just lack of time, children were not hearing these simple rhymes over and over again. And repetition is key.
Hearing and learning nursery rhymes and simple songs directly increases literacy skills:
- Phonological skills: rhyme production (making strings of rhyming words, real and nonsense – dog/log/fog/mog/pog/); composing missing rhyming words; identifying non-rhyming words; clapping syllables
- Phoneme awareness: detection and repetition of sounds
Scroll on to find nursery rhymes to use at home and in the classroom, and check out the bottom of the this post for a Hickory Dickory Dock freebie!
Using Nursery Rhymes and Simple Songs at Home
Incorporating nursery rhymes into your daily routine at home is a matter of finding multiple opportunities to spend quality time with your little one. Car rides, bathing time, burping time, tummy time and easing fussy baby times are perfect. Any time you have one on one time with your baby are quality moments to insert nursery rhymes. They are great for play bouncing infants around while they sit on you. If you only know one nursery rhyme, then sing it over and over and over. Some lesser known and more familiar nursery rhymes for knee bouncings and swaying (with a good rhythm) are:
- Horsie, Horsie, Don’t You Stop
- The Grand Old Duke of York
- Ride a Cock Horse to Banbury Cross
- Row, Row, Row Your Boat
Songs and simple lullabies for quieter times (bath time, dozing off):
Number rhymes and actions songs for active toddlers:
- When Goldilocks Went to the House of the Bears
- Five Little Men in a Flying Saucer
- The Animals Went in Two-By-Two
- A Sailor Went to Sea, Sea, Sea
- Miss Molly had a Dolly
Using Nursery Rhymes in the Classroom
These Youtube videos can be used as an introduction or reinforcement to the rhymes you are learning. Be aware that sometimes the wording in videos may differ from the rhymes you have taught in class, and children can find that frustrating, as they have firm beliefs in what something should sound and look like. Showing different versions of a familiar tale or rhyme is a good early introduction to the idea that there can be multiple right ways of doing things!