Importance of Nursery Rhymes in Early Childhood
Nursery rhymes are a powerful tool in promoting early childhood development. Naturally, they fit into music therapy interventions to make learning fun and effective.
I have to admit that before I had my own kids I didn’t fully realize the benefit of nursery rhymes in early childhood. I used to think they were too short to really make an impact and it was too hard to come up with interventions in the music therapy setting due to their brevity. However as I’ve watched my 2 year old come to love these rhymes over the past couple years and develop skills in phonemic awareness, sequencing, comprehension, and labeling, (to name a few), I’ve been convinced of how wonderful they really are. With that new vision I purchased this Tell-A-Story Nursery Rhyme kit from Lakeshore Learning Store and have been using it in early childhood music therapy groups with a lot of success.
Not only was it fairly priced ($30), but it is made of high quality material and fully equipped with adorable pictures, rhyme printouts, and velcro for sticking the pictures to the board. The pictures and rhymes are on a durable material that can be easily cleaned (which is important when working with little ones!).
So far I’ve used these rhymes to address the following goals:
- Picture identification
- Reading comprehension
- Speech development
- Phonemic awareness (i.e. rhyming)
- Memory (remembering the next phrase)
I like to start by putting the rhymes to a melody or a chant. and sometimes I like to have the kids pat their legs to the rhythm while we sing to increase their level of engagement (although in some cases this can decrease their focus on the actual rhyme, so make sure you know what your intent is before asking them to do it). First I sing the whole rhyme all the way through to set the stage. Then we break it down and sing one or two lines at a time and have the kids find the appropriate pictures to go on the board as we tell the story. We tell the whole story a couple lines at a time, and string the whole thing together at the end. I like to repeat each line at least twice in order to really teach it. It’s important to not be too brief, but to not lose their interest by singing it too much–use your instinct to know how much repetition the kids need to achieve what you’re working toward.
This first process in itself may address some of your goals (i.e choice, picture identification, etc.), but there is even more opportunity after the kids have become familiar with the rhyme to address more goals. You can ask questions about what happened in the story (including sequencing questions), who did what, etc. You can sing the rhyme and leave off a word and see if they remember. You can emphasize which words rhyme with each other and write down those words one on top of another to increase literacy. There are so many possibilities, and it all just comes down to how creative you want to be in addressing the early childhood goals, and what the purpose is of bringing in the nursery rhymes in the first place.
So all in all, if you see a goal area above that you would like to address using nursery rhymes, I highly recommend this product from Lakeshore. It’s the best I’ve seen and I assure you, you won’t be disappointed!