The Importance of Nursery Rhymes in Early Childhood Language Development.

Why teach Nursery Rhymes?


There are probably three important reasons why nursery rhymes are so crucial to early childhood education. You could possibly add more !

  • Children who know nursery rhymes develop a strong sense of well-being. Time passes pleasantly and they “feel good” and are happy with themselves..

  • Children who know nursery rhymes are overflowing with self-confidence and self-esteem. They are curious and imaginative and can show off their ability to recite or sing a rhyme with deep satisfaction and from memory. The rhymes come alive with the creative use of their voice, eyes, facial expression and body language

  • Children who have nursery rhymes read or sung to them become effective communicators.

Features of Nursery Rhymes


Nursery rhymes usually have special features such as repetitions, double rhymes, and the possibility of using alternative lyrics. They use melodic contours in phrases after a series of arch shapes, called anacrusis. Phrases have ascent balanced by a descent; applying the concept of up and down.

Lyrics of nursery rhymes also contain elements of tension and resolution.


There is also power in phrasing as emphasis is often placed in pitch, volume and accent in the beginning, middle or end of a phrase or sentence, the positioning of which changes the meaning.


Rhymes lend themselves naturally to dramatization supporting the meaning with words and actions.


All these help in the formative development of their language skills. Nursery Rhymes and the Development of Language Skills


Young children often begin to speak English by sharing rhymes with their parents or peers. Nursery Rhymes are the most effective way of rapidly developing a child’s vocabulary, grammar, syntax . By playing with the short texts of rhymes, children explore the mechanics of the English language. They find out how language works and become familiar with the relationship between the 44 sounds of English and the 26 alphabet letters – information which will help them when they begin reading to decode the sounds that make up words.


Types of Nursery Rhymes


Nursery rhymes feature huge lists of information that can be used daily: numbers, days of the week, the alphabet, colors, shapes, etc. Here are some simple classifications:


Hello or goodbye themes:

Hi Mary!

How are you?

Fine, thanks.

What about you?


Rhymes with names that can be personalized by changing to family names:

Diddle, diddle dumpling, My son John, Went to bed With his trousers on.


Counting Theme:

One Two Buckle my Shoe


Alphabet Theme:

ABC song has lyrics of the 24 alphabets


Animal Theme:

Old Macdonald had a Farm


Weather Theme :

Rain, Rain, Go away


Food Theme:

Hot Cross Buns;

Peas Porridge Hot


Transportation Theme:

Row ,Row ,Row your Boat


……. and you can add many more !

Some Suggested Activities

Flash Cards: Flashcards can be used to introduce words to develop vocabulary acquisition . By placing them in a certain chronological order we can also prod a child to story sequencing.

Hand Puppets: Rhymes such as ‘Where is Thumbkin’ use finger puppets and lyrics to name the five different fingers.


Rhyme shows: For special occasions like the child’s birthday, a rhyme show could allow the child to recite a rhyme or two. Children welcome opportunities to show their skills and the praise received does much to motivate them. The preparation for the show is just as important as it gives children a valid reason to keep practising and revising their pronunciation and performance.


Rhyme Games: Form rhyming words, like ‘four’, ‘door’, ‘cat’,’sat’ etc.


Rhyme cards and books: Make birthday or celebration cards. Make a book. These self-made materials will inspire children to write their own rhymes and encourage them in creative writing.


Links to Aesthetic and Musical Development


Nursery Rhymes have shown to have a positive effect on a child’s aesthetic and musical sensitivity. Most nursery rhymes usually start off as a short tune which the children can easily sing and memorize. Thus early musical training can also be easily and simultaneously incorporated seamlessly into their language literacy programme.

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