Nursery rhymes – we all sang them as kids, grew up with them, and even started teaching them now to our kids. The teaching of such songs has become so innate in all of us, because we know it was through these songs that we learned to speak and sing and read, so we hope to do the same to our kids.
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But, some questions still remain with us. What are the benefits of these nursery rhymes? Do they really help in a child’s speech and talent in singing and in understanding the world around them? Which ones are appropriate for toddlers? What are the classic and popular ones? Which ones will get them moving and dancing? All of these questions we will answer as you read on:
- What Nursery Rhymes Are and Why Teach Them
- Types of Nursery Rhymes and Why You Should Teach them to your Kids
- How to Make Nursery Rhyming More Fun
What Nursery Rhymes Are and Why Teach Them
When we think about it, nursery rhymes are just songs. But, why call them differently? What’s the difference?
First of all, it’s their appropriateness that makes them different from regular songs. They are never to talk about anything that’s dark or malicious.
Second, the lyrics, rhymes, and rhythmic patterns of these songs are all crafted to: (1) ensure babies can easily remember them and (2) help babies learn how to speak and read more easily.
So, they are vastly different from your regular songs and hugely beneficial too, because apart from teaching kids how to speak and read, they also develop their memory, listening skills, and dancing skills. So, if your kid is busting out their lungs from singing “The Wheels on the Bus” 22 hours a day, let them be. Just keep in mind that they are learning more and more how to speak and read.
Types of Nursery Rhymes and Why You Should Teach them to your Kids
Like regular songs, there are now thousands and thousands of nursery rhymes out there. And, each type is meant for different purposes or multiple purposes. Let’s find out what these types and their uses are:
1 – Lullabies
This is the first type of nursery rhyme that your baby might have been exposed to, because their very purpose is to put the baby to sleep. So, since your newborn has no ability to make sounds let alone say words yet, you sing or play them lullabies, so they can reach dreamland much faster. Some examples of nursery rhymes under this category is Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star or Rock-A-Bye Baby.
2 – Clapping Songs
If you’ve heard of If you’re happy and you know it, then you’ve heard a clapping song. All this type of song is teaching our children is how to go with the beat. Because nursery rhymes are repetitive, it’s not going to be long before your child learns how to clap to the beat of a nursery rhyme. Other examples are Pat-a-cake, Pat-a-cake, Baker’s man and B-I-N-G-O.
3 – Finger and Toe Songs
Anytime a nursery rhyme is making your child use their fingers and toes as they sing is a finger and toe song. The objective of these types is mostly to help the child develop their fine motor skills, like Itsy-Bitsy Spider or The Wheels on the Bus. Even the Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star is a finger song because kids get to move their fingers and their hands to act out the song.
4 – Counting Songs
If there are nursery rhymes to help kids learn dexterity in their fingers, you can bet there are nursery rhymes that teach them about math. Counting songs like 10 little Indians, Five Little Monkeys, or One, Two, Buckle My Shoe aim to teach children all about numbers.
5 – Language Songs
Most, if not all, nursery rhymes are songs that teach children how to speak. Often, these are those songs that have alliterations in them like Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers or ones over-ridden with rhymes like Hickory, Dickory, Dock. The repetitive sounds help children learn how to speak each letter, each vowel, and each consonant which are after all the foundation of their ability to speak.
6 – Ones that Explore the Body and How to Take Care of It
The fact that kids’ memories improve by learning concepts through music is the main reason why we have nursery rhymes that teach about the body and caring for it. The idea is the easier it is to remember such concepts through song, the easier it is for children to incorporate such knowledge into their routine. Brush your teeth nursery rhymes for instance motivate kids to brush their teeth and also teach them how to. Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes is another that lets kids understand their bodies better (apart from it being a great way to exercise your child’s body).
7 – Songs that Teach About People and Animals
A great way to get children to learn different types of people and different types of animals is through nursery rhymes. We can bet your kid will have a clearer understanding of what farm animals are after listening to Old McDonald Had a Farm on repeat for an entire week. Baby Shark and Daddy Finger are two very popular nursery rhymes for toddlers, and they are also instrumental in teaching kids about the family.
8 – Ones that Enhance Social Skills
Children can learn to share, treat each other kindly, to be honest, prudent and obedient through nursery rhymes. Rhymes such as Mary Had a Little Lamb, London Bridge, and There was an Old Woman who Lived in a Shoe are examples of ‘positive behavior’ rhymes.
How to Make Nursery Rhyming More Fun
Having the shortest of attention spans, your little mini-mes might not be satisfied by simply singing or acting out the nursery rhymes that you will teach them. So, adding some twists to them might help.
1 – Add Activities
Singing and reciting nursery rhymes are great tools in early education. But you can make them even more fun by including activities with the rhymes. Just take a look at a few of these things you can do:
- Scramble eggs together while learning Humpty Dumpty.
- Teach children about stars and the planets with Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.
- Plant and grow flowers with Mistress Mary
- Bake a pie with Georgie Porgie
- Make beeswax candles with Jack be Nimble
- Make paper boats and make them race in a make-shift stream as you sing Row, Row, Row Your Boat
2 – Customizing Nursery Rhymes to your Childs’ Names
Make nursery rhyme time more special for your child by changing the name of the main character to your child’s. What’s great about this idea is that most likely your children have already heard the originals of these nursery rhymes. Changing the names will definitely grab their attention and make them love the rhymes even more. Here are a couple of examples:
Emma had a little lamb-its fleece was white as snow.
And everywhere that Emma went the lamb was sure to go.
Zachery saw a little ant passing through the grass.
But since God took the time to make him,
Zachery let the little ant pass.
There are countless of books, games, videos, puzzles, CDs and activities geared around nursery rhymes. Don’t stop with just one book or game or puzzle. In fact, with a plethora of them, go nuts. Ms. Rachel’s Songs for Littles is one I highly recommend.
Using illustrations to help teach nursery rhymes will educate and delight both you and your children. Matching games, puzzles and videos will put visualization to what they are learning through oral repetition.
So, there you have it, parents. Hopefully, this article gave you a better about nursery rhymes. Happy singing!