Nursery rhymes may seem more appropriate for toddlers and pre-schoolers than school-aged children, but they can be a useful tool for fun and learning games. Any of the classic nursery rhymes are wonderful for helping with your child's speech development, even as they get older.
Sing simple songs and nursery rhymes help display the rhythm and pattern of speech and develop language skills. Speech and language are often confused, but there is a distinction between the two:
- Speech is the verbal expression of language and includes articulation, which is the way words are formed.
- Language is much broader and refers to the entire system of expressing and receiving information in a way that's meaningful. It's understanding and being understood through communication — verbal, nonverbal, and written.
Nursery rhymes are customary songs or poems taught to kids, initially in nursery school. Learning these rhymes assists in the expansion of language, and more than a few examples deal with basic counting skills. In addition, precise events, motions, or dances are frequently linked with specific songs. Many cultures include children's songs and verses that are passed along by spoken custom from one age group to the next.
Use nursery rhymes for these learning games
Make learning fun with these activities:
Make a nursery rhyme book
Read nursery rhymes and ask children to select their favorites from their early childhood. Then work as a team of “publishers” to create a nursery rhyme book. Write each child's favorite nursery rhyme on a large sheet of drawing paper, leaving enough space for each child to create a drawing to match. You can simply staple the book together, or place the pages in a plastic sheet display book for them to keep.
Cook up nursery rhyme language development
Extend children's nursery rhyme experiences with cooking activities based on familiar rhymes. Engage children in planning fun snacks such as Miss Muffet's curds 'n' whey, The Queen of Hearts tarts, or Humpty Dumpty scrambled eggs.
Nursery rhyme theatre
Invite children to use their nursery rhyme book to perform a family theatre show. Some children will prefer reading the rhymes while others pretend to be Jack jumping over the candlestick, Old Mother Hubbard looking through her cupboard, and so on. Provide props to enhance the dramatic play.
Create your own family nursery rhyme or poem
Work with your child to make a list of rhyming words such as "-at," "-an," or "-ing" words. Ask each family to choose one of the rhyming word groups and work together to create a short poem. .
Other easy ways to aid speech development
- When your child starts a conversation, give your full attention whenever possible.
- Make sure that you have your child's attention before you speak.
- Acknowledge, encourage, and praise all attempts to speak. Show that you understand the word or phrase by fulfilling the request, if appropriate.
- Pause after speaking. This gives your child a chance to continue the conversation.
- Continue to build vocabulary. Introduce a new word and offer its definition, or use it in a context that is easily understood. This may be done in an exaggerated, humorous manner. "I think I will drive the vehicle to the store. I am too tired to walk."
Find more about kids speech and language development:
- Speech and language development for pre-kinder children
- Speech and language development for 5-6 year olds
- Speech and language development for 7-8 year olds
- Speech and language development for 9-10 year olds
- Speech and language development for 11-12 year olds
- What is phonetics
- What is phonics
- What is phonemics
- How tongue twisters aid speech and language
- The importance of nursery rhymes
- Simple songs to boost speech and language
- Learning a second language
- All about syllables
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This story was written by Alex Brooks for Kidspot, New Zealand's leading education resource.