nursery rhymes old and new: listening, learning and comparing
We’re on a crazy nursery rhyme kick over here.
But instead of sticking to our more modern nursery rhyme poems and calling it a day, we branched out a bit from our nursery rhymes 2.0, the Mary Had a Little Jam, by the amazing Bruce Lansky. We upped the fun factor and added a little piece of comparison.
We looked at traditional nursery rhymes–the not always happy and cheerful and sometimes actually a little nutty nursery rhymes–from books I had when I was a child.
Old school nursery rhymes which might not sound like a big deal to you but when your kids are raised on mostly Mary Had a Little Jam and you give them the no-frills nursery rhymes, straight-up The Real Mother Goose, you’re in for a little shifting.
Wide-eyed, Maddy, Owen, and Cora listened to the sounds, learned a bit, and compared these powerful little poems.
And though yes, a little shell-shocked, it was a really worthwhile look at nursery rhymes old and new.
Here’s the skinny. . .
- Nursery Rhymes Old and New– Listening, Learning, and Comparing: Like I said before, we had been on a real Nursery Rhyme kick.
I didn’t say much.
In fact, all I did was color coordinate sticky notes between books, and I left them in a pile.
I put hot pink sticky notes on “There Was an Old Woman” in both books, I included as many colors as I could, matched up poems, and I let them go.
The O-man checking out the old–and new–nursery rhymes.
And after bath, when I noticed Owen reading the old nursery rhyme book, I said, Oh Owen, did you match up the sticky notes? I linked the poems by color–find the hot pink ones in each book and let me know what you think.
He opened the books and searched for the poems. He looked at the page and then looked up at me. Mom, why’d this old woman whip her kids? What’d they do? I mean, was she trying to hurt them? Or were they bad?
I said, Owen, I’m not sure. Let’s read it again. We read it together. And we talked about what broth is and how even though it’s not true–it’s just a story–that it’s still not a pretty picture of hungry kids and a nasty old woman. And then we read the ‘new’ nursery rhyme.
I like this one a whole lot better–it’s funny. And nicer, he said.
I know–I have to agree, I said. This is the book of rhymes I had when I was little, and though some are funny, a lot are kind of . . . not so funny. And I wondered the same thing when I was your age. When Aunt Mary found this book for us, the new one, I was like so happy I think I danced around the house.
Let’s look at some other ones.
By this time, Maddy and Cora had joined us. We read a bunch of them:
- Three Blind Mice
- Mary Had a Little Lamb
- Humpty Dumpty
- Peter Peter
- Little Bo Peep
- London Bridge
- Yankee Doodle
The kids were speed-flipping through the pages of the book in order to find the poem’s ‘match’.
We laughed, re-read, and listened to the sounds in each poem.
We talked about the similarities–and differences we heard in each. And we talked about how and why the authors made the decisions they did.
- Was the old poem trying to teach a lesson?
- Which illustrations did we prefer–and why?
- How many years ago was each poem written? (We used the copyright for each book.)
- Was the poem funny? Memorable? Silly?
- What did we like–or dislike–about each poem?
Not for every one, mind you, but a few here and there. And we had fun with it–which is why, I’m sure, for the next few nights the kids argued over who got to read the nursery rhyme books before bed.
So cool, if I do say so myself.
And it only took a teeny, tiny amount of effort in matching up the poems, riding the wave of something the kids were already interested in: nursery rhymes.
Who knew that a 9, 7, and 6 year old would enjoy them so much? I may bring out a few more oldies but goodies in the next few days. . .
I just finished reading “Let Me Tell You a Secret: Kindergartners Can Write!” by Amanda R. VanNess, Timothy J. Murnen, and Cynthia D. Bertelson in this month’s issue of The Reading Teacher. I learned a ton from their article and case study, and what it made me realize is that even young children, emerging readers, can do well with confident, supportive teachers.
Cora, though only in Kindergarten, was holding her own in our little nursery rhyme right-bef0re-bed-analysis, listening to Owen and Maddy and adding her own insight to our discussion. It’s exciting. And amazing.
Moral of the story? Let’s bring it on–even for our little guys. They may be ready–but we’re just not always letting them have it.
fyi: Huge thanks to the following books for coming in handy for the last few days: Mary Had a Little Jam by Bruce Lansky; Mother Goose Rhymes by Platt & Monk; and The Real Mother Goose, by Blanche F. Wright.
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