If there is anything that people remember about their early childhood, then it surely has to be nursery rhymes. We hear them as babies, learn them as infants and then, if we have children ourselves as adults, we pass them on by singing them to our children too.
Nursery rhymes are comforting, they bring back happy memories of dancing round the mulberry bush or making our hands ‘twinkle’ like stars. So this November, why not celebrate these much-loved rhymes during World Nursery Rhyme Week and bring a little magic into your setting?
What is World Nursery Rhyme Week?
World Nursery Rhyme Week is an annual, global initiative “to promote the importance of nursery rhymes in early childhood development and education.” It was started in 2013 by Music Bugs who provide weekly sensory, play-based music and singing classes for babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers. Since then, over 3 million children from over 70 countries have taken part in the week which is open to anyone who works with, or has children under the age of 7.
This year, the week runs from the 18th to 22nd November and everyone is invited to join in, especially if you are a child, nursery professional, teacher, parent, carer, grandparent, aunt, uncle or the neighbour’s dog!
Why nursery rhymes?
For a start, nursery rhymes are fun! They help children with speech and language development and serve as an introduction to musical skills as well. Many have associated physical actions which can aid in motor skills development, and some use counting and numbers to develop numeracy skills. Participating in singing nursery rhymes with peers is also sociable and enjoyable!
How can you join in?
You can do as much or as little as you like. You might just want to sing a few more nursery rhymes in your setting than usual, or you could register your involvement on the official website and participate in the ‘Rhyme a Day’ challenge. Every year, there are 5 featured rhymes and children are encouraged to sing one of the rhymes each day and take part in some supporting activities.
The 5 rhymes for 2019 are:
- Monday 18th November – “Baa Baa Black Sheep”
- Tuesday 19th November – “Down in the Jungle”
- Wednesday 20th November – “Incy Wincy Spider/Itsy Bitsy Spider”
- Thursday 21st November – “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”
- Friday 22nd November – “Two Little Dickie Birds/Two Little Dicky Birds”
There are free videos to view on the website which are perfect for singing along to in your setting.
What other resources are available?
If you register your interest on the World Nursery Rhyme Week website, you can download a free resource pack with instant access to lots of fantastic resources and suggested activity ideas that you can do at home or in your setting. These include:
- Song downloads for each of the 5 rhymes
- Videos of the rhymes
- Colouring sheets
- Craft activity suggestions
- Quiz downloads and more!
You can also share your ideas and activities on social media with other practitioners using one of the links below at:
1. Who sat in the corner and who sat on a tuffet?
2. Who kissed the girls and made them cry?
3. How many, and what kind of birds were baked in a pie?
4. What’s the French name for Brother Jack?
5. What are the animals doing down in the jungle?
Why not expand your activities are try some of the following suggestions too?
1. Write your own nursery rhymes. Encourage the children to write a short poem of their own on a subject of their choice. Depending on the age of the child, you could introduce the concept of rhyming to help them create a short poem. You can even create a new tune if you are feeling musical.
2. Put on a nursery rhyme show. This will help to develop confidence and give the children a platform for expressing themselves using drama. You can act out different rhymes and even invite the parents in to see your performance.
3. Explore the emotions. One great thing about nursery rhymes is that they often cover many different emotions and you use these to introduce a discussion on how the different characters are feeling to help with emotional literacy. For example, you could discuss how Jack and Jill felt when they fell over, or how the Incy Wincy Spider felt about trying to climb up the spout again. These are ideal opportunities to teach your young students something other than just the words and actions to the song.
4. Dress up as your favourite nursery rhyme character. You could have a dressing-up day and welcome Little Miss Muffet, spiders, black sheep and all manner of other creatures into your setting. It doesn’t take much to transform children into different characters – all you need is a bit of imagination, and some tinfoil can represent a star, an apron turns you into Old Mother Hubbard, and a cushion can transform anyone into Humpty Dumpty!
5. Set up a nursery rhyme quiz. How well do you know your nursery rhymes? Why not test your colleagues and children by writing a quiz based on nursery rhymes. We’ve given you a few questions around the edges of this article to get you started, but we’re sure you’ll be able to think of plenty more to keep you going.