Introduction to nursery rhymes for children
Introducing children to nursery rhymes is a very important tool in teaching a child how to read. Besides, showing a child a book with poems for kids and making him/her try to read it, could be a difficult task for both of you. It will be hard for your child to concentrate, and therefore he/she might be resistant towards reading books in their entire life. Obviously, that’s not what we want!
Make it special, make it exciting, make it sacred like a “Sacred tree” rhyming game! Something between you and your child, it’s more than a connection, because it’s a spiritual connection!
“Sacred tree” rhyming game
Materials: poster paper, construction paper, glue, tape crayons, markers, sparkles, crystals.
Step 1. Make a big tree – basically, you can either draw one or cut one from a construction paper and glue it on top of the large poster paper. Idea: make it seasonal! If Christmas is near, make it a Christmas tree; if Valentine's Day is coming– make a tree of love; if spring is around the corner make it a spring tree that is waking up after winter to a new life. Again, imagination is yours!
Step 2. Then, we are going to tape smaller pieces of paper (cut them in the shape of leaves to match your tree) on a large poster paper. On smaller pieces of paper that you cut in the shape of leaves, write small nursery rhymes. Then, decorate your tree - make it visually appealing and therefore interesting for your child. Don’t forget to use mainly nursery rhymes, certainly you can find them in various phonics books or you can try to make them yourself.
Step 3. Follow the same procedure for as many leaves as you want to have on you "Sacred Tree".
Step 4. We made 6 leaves altogether. Ask your child to add sunshine, clouds and anything else that he/she feels like adding. Make it your mutual work of art!
Step 5. Everyday paint one leaf yellow and say to your child – another leaf fell down because it's getting colder, let’s see what is written on it. Read a poem out to your child, find which words are rhyming and how many syllables, vowels and consonants are in them. Learn these nursery rhymes together line by line and repeat them every day.
As you are collecting children's nursery rhymes and poems on your “Sacred tree”, create a little celebrity corner for your child. In addition, decorate his/her little chair with bows and wrapping paper and tell him/her that this is a “famous” chair. When your child is on the chair it’s his/her turn to read out children’s poems and funny riddles. Give your child an opportunity to tell you stories even if they are imaginary. In other words, let your child be a celebrity on that chair! It will be your child’s chance to polish his/her dictation, storytelling, authorship and debating skills.
Sometimes when families get together your child should have a special moment on his/her celebrity chair, when all – grandparents, aunts, and uncles are listening to what he/she has prepared. Seeing people enjoying his/her early literacy will promote your child's interest in reading and self-development, and emphasize the importance of literacy. In addition, it will help build your child’s confidence and self-esteem.
Here is an example of a phonics rhyme that I just created – you can use it for your “Sacred Tree”. Phonics rhymes are fun to make, therefore you should try writing it yourself!
"A cat and a bat" nursery rhymes for children
A cat and a bat,
Sat in a flat,
A cat had a hat,
And a bat had a cap.
A cat has to pet,
His little bat,
A bat has to hug,
His fat cat.
As you see, you can write poems for kids yourself or find existing ones. Baby rhymes should be short but carry a friendly message; at the same time, children's nursery rhymes should be age appropriate and interesting to a child. Check for a full list of nursery rhymes for children here.
There is another great way of promoting poetry and storytelling – riddles for kids. Moreover, you can use it for your “Sacred tree” to bring variety. Below is an example of funny riddles for kids.
Funny Riddle for toddlers
If it’s rain you want to hear,
You have to listen with your ___ (Ears)
If you want to clear some land,
Be ready to use your ___ (Hands)
To see an amazing flower with your ___(Eyes)
Don’t look up in the sky
Look here in the forest,
As you are a famous florist,
Smell the flower with your ____(Nose)
And freeze in this pose!
It can be a great rhyming activity for your child. You can add physical movements as you read them out, that will help a child to better memorize it, and undoubtedly, be a great exercise for both of you. In addition, you can try another rhyming game below.
Take a child on a "rhyming hunt"
Another great rhyming game is "Rhyming hunt". Take a bag or your magic box and go on a house hunt with your child! Look for small objects that you can put in your bag, check the fridge and the shelves, check under the bed. Collect at least ten objects - for example - socks, candles, bananas, pencils, dolls...it can be anything!
Then, get the object out of the bag one by one. Each player should get one object at a time. If there are only you and your child playing - just take turns! Let's imagine your child starts first with a "sock", ask your child what does this word rhyme to. For example, it can be a clock, a wok, a block, a frog, a dog and so on. Ask your child to make his/her own nursery rhyme from existing rhyming words. For instance:
A frog had a red sock,
Which she stole from a black dog,
A black dog came to the frog,
To get back his red sock.
Here you are! You created your own nursery rhyme for children!
Now it's your turn to pick an object. Don't hesitate to ask your child for help to find which words the object rhymes to. Have fun creating nursery rhymes!
Add some actions and movements to your rhymes
Try to add some actions and movement to your nursery rhymes. Stand up and together with your child play actions out - for instance, show how a frog pulls the sock on, how a dog walks to see a frog, etc. Enjoy the process!
Make this rhyming game mysterious
If your child enjoys mysteries and guessing games you can slightly modify rules of this rhyming game. Collect items yourself and put them in the bag. Ask your child if he/she wants to play with you in a mystery game (as always you need to interest your child in participating). Your child should close his/her eyes and pick an object and without opening his/her eyes tell you what it is.
The only hints you are allowed to tell him/her are words that the object is rhyming to. When a child guesses the object they need to make up a nursery rhyme with all rhyming words. Then it's your turn to pick the object. You need to close your eyes and your child should give you hints as he/she can see the object.
Your child should name all the words the object is rhyming to. Then you should make up a nursery rhyme with available rhyming words. Children love mystery and guessing games, therefore, this one will be so much fun to play!
In conclusions, rhyming games and activities are a great way of teaching your child reading. They promote early literacy, increase a child's vocabulary (as they are so easy to remember) and are so entertaining and fun to play.