Learning From Nursery Rhymes

Kids love nursery rhymes because they’re full of silly words and rhymes, they have animals acting like people, funny names for the characters, and they’re catchy to say. But did you know nursery rhymes are filled with teaching and learning opportunities?

Language Development

When we talk to young children, we use voice inflection, pitch, volume, and the rhythm of language to communicate emotions and ideas. Kids begin to understand the concept that letters – consonants and vowels – have sounds, and that by putting those sounds together we make words. Using the rhythm of language and speech patterns in nursery rhymes, kids are practicing enunciation and pronunciation.

Calling My Language Bank

Nursery Rhymes are filled with vocabulary not often heard in every day communication. Having a large vocabulary helps with reading comprehension because kids are developing a language bank to call upon when they’re learning to read. Words will make sense when they’re reading, and kids can picture a mental image of what they’re reading.

Rhymers Are Readers

Rhyming teaches kids how language works, and in turn how reading works. Kids who can rhyme better understand the connection between print and sound, which is crucial to proficient reading. Many nursery rhymes have fingerplays and movements with the same directional movement as the order of written word – left to right and top to bottom. Knowing these directional movements will naturally help when learning to read – no second guessing where to start. 

Get Moving

By acting out the nursery rhymes in dramatic play, kids are using their whole bodies to move in big ways or different ways they would normally move in. Kids also use their imagination and are being creative when acting out nursery rhymes. By reciting tricky speech patterns, young children use their mouth and tongue muscles in coordination, which again goes back to practicing enunciation and pronunciation. 

Nursery Rhymes to Math Concepts

Nursery Rhymes are filled with math-related words – many, few, plenty, large, medium, small and more. These math vocabulary words provide a rich foundation of knowledge and help preschoolers grasp abstract math concepts even at such an early age. Preschoolers love to count – it makes them feel like they’re big kids! Many nursery rhymes have counting in them. What better way to teach counting than a fun song or poem! 

Cognitive Development

Nursery Rhymes often follow a short story with a beginning, middle and end – a story sequence. Kids will naturally learn this concept of a story sequence which will help them to follow along when someone is reading to them and when they’re learning to read themselves. Learning nursery rhymes requires memorization and recall, and provides lots of opportunities for developing strong mental imagery. 

Tongue Twisters and Noisy Sounds

Kids learn alliteration – for preschoolers this means tongue twisters like Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. Kids learn onomatopoeia – words for sounds – like honk, splash, zap, thump. Kids love words like this! 

Social/Emotional Development

The characters in nursery rhymes present many different emotions and find themselves in many different situations. Preschoolers will begin to identify their own real emotions from knowing nursery rhymes, which in turn encourages empathy, sympathy, and an understanding of the emotions of the people around them. There are some pretty silly nursery rhymes out there, and kids will explore humor and discover their own, unique sense of humor! 

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