Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Nursery Rhymes Teach Speech and Vocabulary

You've noticed that in Sound Beginnings we do many things beyond singing. 

One thing we include in every class is a chance to practice our nursery rhymes.  But why?

Nursery rhymes are POWER-PACKED with educational awesomeness.  In this three-part blog series, I'll walk you through the skills and tell you how you can have more fun at home!


When children hear nursery rhymes, they practice pitch, volume, voice inflection, and the rhythm of speaking.  

If you consider your own speaking voice, it sounds different when you ask a question or make a statement. You have a different rhythm and inflection when you tell a story than when you place a sub sandwich order. Your child needs to learn how to use all of these to sound like a native speaker. 

Young speakers also must work the muscles of their mouth, lips, and tongue to create all the new sounds and articulate tricky words.

Nursery rhymes give an opportunity to practice these skills in a silly, fun, playful way...which is to say, in the native language of children!

Speech Practice at Home

Does your child have a little trouble articulating some sounds? It's a learning process for all toddlers!

Step one: Pay attention to your child- which letters seem most tricky? Plan to do a little practice for those.
Step two: Be very aware of how YOUR mouth and tongue move to create the sounds.
Step three: SHOW your mouth/face/lips to your child as you speak. Point out what is going on. Ask her to copy you.
Step four: Learn some nursery rhymes together and practice saying all these wonderful words together!

Here's a video for teaching 'G' and 'K', from a speech pathologist and here is a podcast for teaching /r/.

Here's a video for practicing T, D, N and L:

HERE is another video for practicing letters 'F' and 'V'. 
And HERE is a video for practicing 'P' 'B' and 'M'.


Nursery rhymes introduce interesting vocabulary to help expand a youngster's repertoire: Jack and Jill went up a hill to fetch a pail of water.  Mary, Mary, quite contrary. Jack be nimble, Jack be quick.

Research has show that in 1945, the average elementary school student had a vocabulary of 10,000 words. Today, children have a vocabulary of only 2,500 words.  Parents are not reading to their children as often, and vocabulary is suffering. The decrease also stems from children not memorizing rhymes, the bread-and-butter of traditional early children's literature.

Memorize nursery rhymes with your child!

Capitalize on the opportunity to have a "word of the week" and use the new words from Sound Beginnings class all week long: "Can you please fetch your sock and shoes? If your sister is feeling contrary, maybe some tickles will cheer her up. Hop nimbly up into your car seat! Be quick!"

Traditional rhymes are repetitious and allow children to memorize basic structures and patterns in the English language, then they'll want to try it out on their own with longer, more complex sentences.  

I remember the red-letter day when my then 2 year-old son said, "I saw the cat go down the stairs into the basement." It was his longest sentence ever! We were delighted.  

Be on the lookout for your child's construction of similar wonders, and repeat them back. "You saw the cat go down the stairs into the basement? How exciting!"

 It's important that young children learn to memorize through verse!

Fun at Home: Role Play

Get more practice with emphasis, accent, inflection, and vocabulary through role-play games at home.  It's time to bring out your inner thespian! 

Role-play can also help children prepare for and process situations they encounter in daily life. And, of course, your children LOVE when you are silly and vulnerable enough to play this way with them.  Here are a couple of ideas to get you started, and be sure to take turns in different roles.

RESTAURANT: Kids love to pretend they own a restaurant. Act out what you'll say when you go to a restaurant! Here's one family's version of this type of experience (you get the idea):

DENTIST or DOCTOR: When you're the patient, it's hilarious to invent crazy symptoms. "I have purple spots in my armpits. What could be causing that?" Kids will practice speaking in a confident, authoritative way as they answer you.

BUS DRIVER: Set up chairs to set the 'bus' stage, then tell the young driver where you'd like to go. Talk about what you see out the windows. "Driver! Can you please pull over? I see some chickens selling eggs and I'd like to get out and buy some!"

NURSERY RHYMES: Create a storied experience from your favorite rhymes. Have Humpty Dumpty fall onto the sofa, Jack and Jill climb up the stairs, and Teddy Bear run 'round and 'round the kitchen table.  "Hello Mister Dumpty, are you sure you should be sitting up there on the sofa back? I am afraid you are very fragile."  "Jack, will you please bring that pail and climb this hill with me? I need to fetch some water. It's a very big hill."

Want to see the rest of the seven amazing ways nursery rhymes are teaching your child to be fantastic?

We've got a bonus prize for you 
if you make it all the way through part 3!

Keep reading for PART 2, How rhymes teach Reading and Math! 

or jump ahead to PART 3: How rhymes help with coordination, social skills, and MUSIC!

-Gina Weibel, M.S.
Let's Play Music Teacher

No comments:

Post a Comment