Nursery Rhymes and Storytime: A Love Story

We received a lovely request for a post about nursery rhymes this week and after some searching realized they’re scattered all over our blog, the poor things. So thanks to Julie for the nudge, we’ve collected links, resources and ideas together and we hope you enjoy our ode to nursery rhymes!

The why (always the why when it comes to the pursuit of Early Literacy and all things good!) has been explored by our dear friend Mel in a way that reads like a good detective novel. In her hunt to unearth the study behind Mem Fox’s adage “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” Mel shares several studies and articles which link nursery rhymes to positive early literacy outcomes.  A snippet which I like from Bookstart states:

Evidence suggests that a familiarity with rhymes helps children to detect the phonetic constituents of words. Children at a very young age can recognise that cat rhymes with mat. In making this connection, they detect the word segment ‘at’. Because rhyming words – words that have sounds in common – often share spelling sequences in their written form, children sensitive to rhymes are well equipped to develop their reading. By making children aware that words share segments of sounds (e.g. the -ight segment shared by light, fight, and might) rhymes help prepare them to learn that such words often have spelling sequences in common too (Goswami, 1986, 1988).

We know that reading and sharing rhymes with children is integral to their development as readers and nursery rhymes provide a natural way to do this. They also have a cultural component. While many parents today may not be familiar with or remember some of the classics, when we incorporate nursery rhymes into library programs we help both kids and parents connect to the history and culture which they represent. Finally, concepts and characters from nursery rhymes show up everywhere! Sharing nursery rhymes at a young age helps children recognize Jack and Jill when they show up later in a rhyme or in a new story. These deep connections contribute to children’s understanding of narrative norms as well as fuel print motivation as they enjoy revisiting old friends in new stories. Ok, nursery rhymes are IMPORTANT, enough said. Now let’s explore some ways to use them!

                                          nurseryrhymes Traditional Songs and Rhymes Playlist SongCube-288x300

  • Starting out nice and easy we’ve recorded a bunch of nursery rhymes and they can all be found in the Traditional Storytime Songs and Rhymes Playlist
  • A nice way to begin incorporating nursery rhymes, especially if they’re new to you or your crowd is through the use of a Song Cube. The visual on the die helps kids “read” which nursery rhyme you’ll try today. You can pair the rhyme with movement as Sara on Twitter suggested which is a perfect way to encourage little bodies to feel the rhymes.
  • Now things are gonna get super duper cool, like these 10 Creative Ways to Share Nursery Rhymes by Story Time Secrets.
  • Anne at So Tomorrow throws down with her Mother Goose Games and Parachute Play and nursery rhymes. Dang she makes rhyming cool!
  • Mel, who should be awarded the Mother Goose Crown (for so many reasons) shares her recipe for a Mixed up Mother Goose. The possibilities for literacy play are absolutely endless.
  • Emily at PoesyGalore puts it all together (complete with books!) in her C is for Classics storytime which is well worth a read.
  • And finally, if you’re flannel inclined the fantastic Flannel Friday collection includes a Nursery Rhymes board as well as a board of over 300 general rhymes.

That about does it for now, but we’d love to hear how you use nursery rhymes in your programs or even why YOU think they’re so important. Please leave us a comment down below!

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