Nursery rhymes are often a child’s first introduction to our literary heritage. Parents sing nursery rhyme lullabies to soothe their babies to sleep and play nursery rhyme games to entertain them in their waking hours. All the while, children are learning the rhythms and tones of our language, developing vocabulary, ideas and imagination. When children learn the repetitive patterns of nursery rhymes, they are also developing their memories.
Australian author Mem Fox is often quoted as saying that
“Experts in literacy and child development have discovered that if children know eight nursery rhymes by heart by the time they’re four years old, they’re usually among the best readers by the time they’re eight.”
While I am aware that others question the existence of research to back up that statement, I think most teachers would agree that children who have been spoken to, sung to (including nursery rhymes) and read to before school will find literacy learning much easier in our classrooms. Success with literacy learning often correlates with success later in life.
Already on the readilearn website, there are resources to support your literacy teaching using the nursery rhymes Humpty Dumpty and Little Miss Muffet. More are in development. While some nursery rhymes may be considered to have questionable origins, those origins have no place when teaching them to children. The benefits flow from having fun with the rhythms and rhymes of language.
Teaching literacy skills & developing creative thinking with Humpty Dumpty
The Humpty Dumpty suite of resources includes:
The Accident — Humpty Dumpty’s Fall is an original story that innovates on the nursery rhyme by providing a scenario that might lead to Humpty’s falling from the wall. It is a digital estory which can be displayed and read on the interactive whiteboard. It can be read as a story on its own or as part of the writing unit Humpty Dumpty — a story in five sittings. (Note: if you wish to implement the writing unit, do so before reading the story.)
Humpty Dumpty — a story in five sittings is a series of five lessons in writing based upon the nursery rhyme. Each lesson provides opportunities for children to think creatively and imaginatively and to write using a basic narrative structure. It presupposes children already have an idea of sentence structure and some experience writing stories of their own.
In the first lesson, children generate questions and discuss possibilities about the wall; for example, where it was, why Humpty sat on it, how he got on it and if there was anything else he could have sat on. They consider how their own story might start and are given time to write the beginning of their stories.
In the second lesson, children generate questions and consider possibilities about what may have caused Humpty to fall and what happened when he fell. They write about this next exciting part of their story.
In the third lesson, children consider some alternate resolutions to the problem and how he might be repaired. In the nursery rhyme, Humpty couldn’t be put back together. Is that what they want to have happen in their story? Could Humpty be repaired? How? They discuss possibilities and write their own resolution.
In the fourth lesson, children consider the end of the story. In the nursery rhyme, Humpty dies. Does he have to die? Is there another possibility? Children discuss options and write the end of their story.
In the fifth lesson, children re-read, edit and share.
Of course, before attempting to read or write an alternative, it is important that children are familiar with the nursery rhyme. We have that covered too, with a printable copy of the nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty to download.
The lovely illustrations used in these Humpty Dumpty resources were done exclusively for readilearn by Kari Rocha Jones.
Teaching reading and writing with Little Miss Muffet
Let’s read and write with Little Miss Muffet is a series of lessons developing oral language, reading, writing and imagination, ready to teach on the interactive whiteboard. The lessons encourage children to contribute ideas to discussions that may lead to writing. Writing can occur at almost any point throughout the lessons and may involve modelled writing by the teacher, collaborative writing or independent writing.
Teacher notes included in the resource suggest ideas for discussing the nursery rhymes, considering different points of view (e.g. the spider’s) and alternate characters and events. Children are encouraged to write their own stories based on the rhyme and are presented with two other nursery rhymes with a similar structure to Little Miss Muffet — an innovation called Lazy Mr Jellybean and Little Jack Horner. A glossary of terms such as tuffet and curds and whey is also included.
The illustrations used in Little Miss Muffet are courtesy of WhimsyClips.com by Laura Strickland.
World Nursery Rhyme Week
If you are not already aware of it, you may wish to check out World Nursery Rhyme Week that begins next week on 18 November and continues until 22 November. The purpose of World Nursery Rhyme Week is to promote the importance of nursery rhymes in early education. Follow the link to find lots of free resources to join in the worldwide celebration of nursery rhymes.
Remember to check out the readilearn collection of
teaching resources for the first three years of school
Resources beyond worksheets – lessons for teachers made by teachers.
Let readilearn lighten your workload.
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