Innovating on familiar nursery rhymes and songs is an easy and fun way to encourage children to think creatively, to develop their writing skills and extend their vocabularies. There are many ways in which Row, Row, Row Your Boat can be used for these purposes. In this post, I share just some of them.
What other words rhyme with stream and dream? List them.
beam, cream, gleam, meme, ream, seem, team
What other words rhyme with row? List them.
bow, blow, crow, dough, flow, go, hoe, Joe, know, low, mow, so, slow, show, tow, though, woe
Synonyms and alternatives
Substitute synonyms or other words to sing or write new versions.
merrily: happily, joyfully, cheerfully, gaily, cheerily, joyously, gleefully
row: paddle, steer
boat: dinghy, tinny, yacht, ship, ferry
gently: softly, lightly, slowly, smoothly, quietly
stream: river, brook, creek
merrily: sadly, unhappily, gloomily
Discuss what is meant by ‘Life is but a dream’.
How else could the feeling be expressed?
Alternative modes of transport
List other ways of getting from place to place, e.g.
car, plane, helicopter, ship, yacht, truck, skates, scooter, motorbike, bicycle, hot air balloon, horse
Innovate to write new poems
Rewrite the poem using alternative modes of transport.
While the second and fourth lines in the original rhyme, it is not necessary for children to write rhyming poems. However, it can be encouraged by finding words that rhyme with the second line and choosing, if possible, one that makes sense to complete the poem. Near rhymes are also acceptable.
The fourth line need not begin with ‘Life is …’. However, it is important to try to maintain the rhythm so the poem is singable.
It is fun to write alternative versions collaboratively as a class. Once children have the idea of changes that can be made, they will enjoy writing their own versions.
Illustrate the poems
Provide the children with materials to illustrate the original rhyme or their new poems.
A water colour wash makes an effective background for a paper boat illustrating the original.
Children may draw or paint a background to illustrate their new poems with cut-out images to create a collage.
Share the poems with others
It is important to provide children with an opportunity of sharing their writing with others. Their classmates make a good first audience. Other possible audiences include: other classes, school assemblies and parents.
I have compiled all these ideas into a new resource called Row, Row, Row Your Boat — the Nursery Rhyme. The resource includes:
- 2 copies of the original rhyme
- 2 pages of teaching suggestions
- 5 new innovations on the rhyme
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