Friday, February 24, 2012

Bring Back the Rhymes (and a freebie, too)!

No, nursery rhymes are not just for babies.  In fact, lots of babies aren't even hearing them anymore.  Let's bring back the rhymes and engage children in meaningful rhyme and story.  My kindergarten students LOVE to read (and reread and reread) nursery rhymes and they also love to take them apart, put them back together and change them around.  It's no secret that children love anything personalized with their name or their picture, so let't take that idea and run with it right??
We recently did the nursery rhyme Three Little Kittens.  Perfect, right?  It's cold, the children wear mittens and are always losing their mittens and getting their moms all frantic, so they can really relate. There are so many skills and concepts found hidden in this rhyme:
  • My favorite is using intonnation when you read and really "reading" the punctuation that is there. The kids get how upset the kittens will be to tell mama cat that they've lost their mittens, so how will they say it?  They also get how upset mama will be when she knows they've lost their mittens.  How will she respond?  Try reading it without any expression and see how they react.  This is how they begin to learn about intonnation in their own reading and how it can change the whole meaning of a story or change the excitement of the audience anyway.
  • I always introduce the concept of mystery through this rhyme.  Where did those mittens go anyway?  Some of the ideas that these childdren have will simply amaze you.  It generates amazing writing and excitement.
  • Math:  I always coincide this with skip counting by twos. Mittens do come in pairs, right??  And, of course those silly kittens lost both mittens to help us find pairs.
  • Phonics and reading skills:  rhyming, of course!  Finding words we know in words we don't (example it is found in little and mittens and kittens).  But, also, there are copious amounts of chunks to be found and located in this rhyme as evidence shows below (I have my students "butter" the chunks and words we know in the poems with "sticks of butter" a.k.a highlighters--keep it fun, people!).  When children see all they know in excerpts they are going to read, it makes them realize, "Wow, I really can read this!":
Check out the amazing art that is generated from this personalized rhyme where the student becomes the angry person who the kittens reveal that they've lost their mittens to. 

Please hop on over to my blog if you are interested in getting a 3 Little Kitten packet to use with your students!


    1. The goal for our 2-year-old daughter is to be bilingual. Right now she speaks mostly German. I have German nursery rhymes on CDs playing in the house or car, and sing them with her often. It's fun to hear her repeat back rhymes, but the best side effect is hearing her rhyme words on her own. There are a lot of benefits from learning nursery rhymes!

    2. Your post brings back wonderful memories! When I changed my kids' diapers as babies and toddlers, I used to sing nursery rhymes to them. I used nursery rhymes a lot as a preschool teacher, too. Your ideas and freebie are great! I pinned your post to my Literature-Based Activities Pinterest board at


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