Students will develop a sense of self in relation to families and community as they rewrite a classical nursery rhyme.
One per class:
- Various nursery rhyme
- Nursery rhyme poster—
Little Miss Muffet, Wee
Willie Winkie, Humpty
Dumpty, Jack and Jill,
and Hickory Dickory
Dock, or others of your
- Nursery rhyme rewrite
Muffet, Wee Willie
Dumpty, Jack and Jill,
and Hickory Dickory
Dock, or others of your
- Set of Unifix cubes in
various colors or
colored paper squares
- Chart paper
- 8 x 11 inch art paper
- Markers, crayons,
- Rhymes and Reasons: An annotated collection of Mother Goose
Rhymes, by James C. Christensen; ISBN 0-86713-040-7
- The Little Dog Laughed: And Other Nursery Rhymes from Mother
Goose, by Lucy Cousins; ISBN 0-14-055469-6
- Hey Diddle Diddle: And other Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes, by
Tomie dePaola; ISBN 0-399-21589-1
- Mary Had a Little Jam and Other Silly Rhymes, by Bruce Lansky;
Background for Teachers
The goal for students in Content Standard II is that they develop a
sense of self in relation to families and community. As students form
relationships with their family and with one another, they draw upon
common experiences to strengthen those relationships. One common
bond that can strengthen relationships in the family and at school is
literature. Traditional forms of literature that we can share are nursery
rhymes and folk tales. Nursery rhymes are lyrical passages that can be
shared between members of a family. Usually a parent recites nursery
rhymes to young children. By reciting nursery rhymes, oral traditions are
passed down. Through this time spent together, bonds between a parent
and a child can be strengthened. These important lessons help us build
and strengthen the relationships in our families and community. Many
students have experiences with these traditional literature forms at home.
At school, we can expand their knowledge and build classroom
During this activity, the students will rewrite a classical nursery
rhyme as a class. The students will have the opportunity to recite/read
the nursery rhyme, discover the pattern of the text, and duplicate and
extend that pattern to rewrite the nursery rhyme. As the rhymes are
rewritten, the class will perform the original or rewritten version of the
Intended Learning Outcomes
2. Develop social skills and ethical responsibility
3. Demonstrate responsible emotional and cognitive behaviors.
6. Communicate clearly in oral, artistic, written and nonverbal form.
Invitation to Learn
Begin chanting the nursery rhyme "Jack and Jill." Invite the students
who know the rhyme to join in. Ask the class if they have heard this
nursery rhyme. What rhythm or beat pattern do they feel? Tell the
students that during the next week the class will be reciting nursery
rhymes and finding the pattern of the rhythm in the rhymes. The class will also have the opportunity to write its own nursery rhyme and
perform it in the form of a puppet show.
- Read the "Jack and Jill" nursery rhyme to the class. You may
write the nursery rhyme on chart paper and do a shared reading
from the chart.
- To identify the pattern of the nursery rhyme, the teacher
generates a physical pattern such as snapping and clapping (AB
pattern) as your recite the nursery rhyme. Ask the students to
identify the pattern. Ask the students if anyone else has another
idea of how to show the pattern. This may include clapping
twice and slapping legs twice or touching shoulders and knees
in an AABB pattern. Various patterns such as AAA or ABCB
patterns may be used as extensions. The teacher may model
each of these patterns and students will join in.
- Provide the class with an assortment of Unifix cubes or colored
paper squares. Each student can make the AB pattern with the
materials. Recite the nursery rhyme as the student points to
his/her Unifix cube/paper pattern. AABB or AAA patterns may
also be constructed and the rhyme recited.
- After the students are comfortable in identifying the pattern(s)
they hear in the nursery rhyme, introduce the nursery rhyme
rewriting chart. The original text of the nursery rhyme is
written on the left side of the chart and the rewritten version of
the nursery rhyme is on the right side. The class can produce
their own version of the nursery rhyme "Jack and Jill" through
a shared or interactive writing experience.
- Ask the students to identify the characters in the nursery rhyme
(e.g., substitute "Ann and Clark" for "Jack and Jill"). As a class,
write the text on the rewriting chart.
- Discuss the setting of the nursery rhyme. Jack and Jill went up
the hill and Ann and Clark go to the park.
- Create an alternative action for the nursery rhyme. Instead of
getting a pail of water, Ann and Clark watch the keeper feed the
- Provide a different ending to the rhyme. Instead of Jack falling
down and breaking his crown, Ann fell in and hurt her chin and
Clark dived in to save her.
- Compare the patterns of the original nursery rhyme with that of
the rewritten version. You may use clapping and snapping
motions or Unifix cubes, as in steps two and three, to check the
- Provide each child with paper and crayons. Each student may
create a character from the nursery rhyme. Affix the decorated
and cut-out character to a drinking straw. This will be the puppet
for the puppet show.
- The class may recite the nursery rhyme while the student moves
his/her puppet. Each student will demonstrate his/her knowledge
of the spatial relationships in the nursery rhyme through the
movement of the nursery rhyme character puppet.
Rewriting other nursery rhymes may be used as extensions for this
activity. The same format that was used to rewrite “Jack and Jill” is
followed for other nursery rhymes. As the students identify the character,
setting, problem, and resolution for each nursery rhyme, they are
practicing important skills from the language arts core curriculum.
Students are also using skills that will strengthen phonological awareness
and writing skills. Of course, the rhythm/beat pattern is always
All students may participate in this activity. Because it is teacher
directed, students with varying skills in mathematics and language arts
will be successful.
- The parent may read a variety of nursery rhymes with his/her
child. Discuss the rhythm of the nursery rhymes. Use hand
motions to emphasize various parts of the nursery rhymes.
- The parent and student can go for a walk around the
neighborhood and look for various patterns on homes, sidewalks,
By participating in the class recitation of the nursery rhyme(s) and
through participation in the puppet show, a teacher can assess the
students level of knowledge of rhythmic patterning and knowledge of
spatial relationships. The teacher may assemble the rewritten nursery
rhyme that the class composes in a book format. The original form of the
nursery rhyme may also be included to compare and contrast the two
versions. Each student can illustrate the pages of the rewritten nursery
rhyme and the original version. This book may be included in the
student’s portfolio where it may be examined by the teacher and parents.