Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Nursery Rhymes Teach Reading and Math

You read about how nursery rhymes are powerful tools for helping children develop speech and vocabulary in PART 1. Here in PART 2 I want to show how nursery rhymes teach reading and math skills!

Reading and Phonics

One great part about nursery rhymes is the rhymes. Children practice hearing rhyming words and sensing how vowels and consonants combine to make different words and word families. 

Memorizing nursery rhymes is an important way to build a repertoire of rhyming words!

Recognition of word patterns helps young readers make sense of phonics and bolster their reading skills. Hat, bat, cat, fat...they all sound the same at the end and voila! They have the same letters at the end!

A favorite game I like to play with toddlers is Find a Rhyme.  This usually happens in the car, when everyone's strapped in and needs something interesting to think about.  

Hey! I've got a word: BEE. 

Bee, Bee, what rhymes with bee
Bee, Bee, how about...."  
(child shouts)  TREE
Bee, tree, bee and tree
I like to rhyme bee and tree.

Repeat with new words until you reach grandma's house.  To make this game a little easier, prep your child with a few words that rhyme, or let older kids give hints to your toddler, or let older kids play a few rounds to show preschoolers how it's played. Be sure that everyone cheers when a rhyme is found.

Reading and Reason

Nursery rhymes also often incorporate very short stories with beginnings, middles, and ends. Jack went up the hill, then he fell down, then Jill fell down. These short tales give practice in sequencing events and understanding the flow of stories: more early literacy skills!

At home, make pictures to go with your favorite rhymes (we give them to you in Sound Beginnings class for some rhymes).  As your child recites the rhyme, have her put the pictures in the correct order, like my little daughter does here:

Finally, your rhymes will offer lots of alliteration (Goosey, Goosey, Gander) and onomatopoeia (Baaa, baaa, black sheep), again giving tots lots and lots of experience with words and how they work with phonics.  Words that start with the same letter have the same starting sound. Amazing!

The more words and rhymes your child learns, the bigger her repertoire to draw from while making these connections and internalizing how phonics works.

Math Skills

Nursery rhymes have patterns of syllables and rhymes. It's one of the traits that makes them so enjoyable and musical! You know what I mean...

Doo dum tweedle Doo
Doo dum tweedle Doo
Doo dum diddle dum diddle dum.

Doo dum tweedle Doo
Doo dum tweedle Doo
Doo dum diddle dum diddle dum!

Internalizing how patterns flow strengthens mathematical thinking and helps in memorization. 

Many rhymes also sneak in conceptual math words (none, many, few, plenty) as well as counting numbers, which means even more early math skills to internalize.  

One, Two, Three, Four, Five
Once I caught a fish alive
Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten
Then I let it go again.

One, Two, Buckle my shoe.
Three, Four, shut the door.

Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard
to get her poor dog a bone
but when she go there the cupboard was bare
and so her poor dog had none.

If you missed it, check out our post on PART 1: Rhymes teach Speech and Vocabulary: 

Don't miss the bonus gift for you 
if you make it through part 3!

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

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