Sunday, May 3, 2009

Nursery Rhymes

Hey diddle diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon.
The little dog laughed
To see such sport,
And the dish ran away
With the spoon.

Nursery rhymes have been handed down from Mother to child for centuries. Frankly, I've wondered why. I mean, if you think about their words, most of them make absolutely no sense and some have rather depressing endings, like "When the bow breaks the cradle will fall, and down will come baby, cradle and all." But, despite all that, kids love them.

My kids are no exception. I just bought this book (pictures above) not too long ago because I didn't have a book with nursery rhymes and I sadly only knew a few by heart. I found my copy at Wal-Mart, and I think I may have seen it at Target too. It's also fun because it comes with a CD for added enjoyment, and in case you were wondering, it is made by Priddy Books. Anyway, it became an instant favorite at my house. C is always dragging it off the shelf and begging me with her big cow eyes to read it, and N likes to try and say some of the nursery rhymes with me. I think his favorite is The Three Little Mittens.

One reason I bought the book is because Kindermusik does a lot with nursery rhymes, and their teacher has talked a lot about how important they are for kids development. I thought that was interesting, so I looked up WHY nursery rhymes are so beneficial to kids, and I found some interesting articles to back up what their teacher said. Here's what I found:

10 Reasons Kids Benefit From Nursery Rhymes:

  1. Rhyme: The rhyming format found in nursery rhymes makes it easier for kids to pick out rhyming words, and studies show that kids who struggle with rhyming words, also have struggles with learning to read.

  2. Rhythm: The rhythms found in nursery rhymes help children exercise their auditory memory skills. It's easier for them to remember the words because of the rhythms. Also, my kids seem to enjoy my telling of the nursery rhymes more when I really emphasize the rhythmic pulse, and I'll even bounce or tap on my kids to the beat.

  3. Phonemes: Phonemes are the individual units of sound that make up words. Rhymes sensitize children to these sounds. The rhyme "Baa Baa Black Sheep" places three /b/ sounds in a row and later in the verse, dame and lane highlight the long /ay/ sound. This helps children develop a sensitivity to language, which prepares them to think about the sequence of sound in a whole word. This skill is crucial for learning to read and spell.

  4. Listening Skills: They introduce the concept of listening from beginning to end. They're the perfect first stories because they're short.

  5. Imagery: The colorful images painted in nursery rhymes help expand a child's imagination. Remember how I said The Three Little Kittens is N's favorite? A lot of times after we read our nursery rhyme book he's off pretending to be a kitten.

  6. Fun: Any time you read to your children, it sends them a message that you enjoy spending time with them. Nursery rhymes introduce literature as something fun, helping your children develop love of reading. I enjoy reading nursery rhymes to my kids because they are fun to read. Some of them I know a tune that fits with the words, like "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star", but others I've just made up my own tune. Sometimes the tune is quite dorky, but kids don't care. Singing as you read to your kids captures their attention and helps them listen better. If I don't sing the rhymes, I do a lot of vocal inflection and facial expressions. Not only do my kids have fun, but I have a blast too!

  7. Humor: Most nursery rhymes are just plane silly, but kids don't care that they make no sense.

  8. Vocabulary: Because nursery rhymes have been around forever, they often have words that aren't used in everyday language and often introduce math concepts.

  9. Coordination: Many rhymes have hand gestures and clapping to go along with them. This can help a child develop coordination and motor skills.

  10. Confidence: Reciting nursery rhymes gives a child practice and confidence in speaking in front of strangers.

I got the above information from two articles: Nursery Rhyme Benefits and Why Children Need Nursery Rhymes. The latter was very interesting. It had some additional benefits, so I'd encourage you to check out the full article.

Some of you who might be a little uncomfortable reading rhymes like "Jack and Jill" or "Humpty Dumpty" or any of the other more depressing ones. The article "Why Children Need Nursery Rhymes" gave a good suggestion. They suggested taking creative license and coming up with more happy endings. For example, instead of "Couldn't put Humpty together again" you could say, "Took him to the Doctor - now he's better again!"

If you don't have a collection of nursery rhymes in your personal library, I'd encourage you to get one. Your kids will love them, and they're very beneficial. There is a large selection of nursery rhyme books, so you don't necessarily have to get the one I suggested. Although, it might hurt my feelings if you don't.

Happy nursery rhyming!

1 comment:

Kim said...

Great post, marianne. You really did your research!