Nursery Rhymes: What to Sing and Why They are Important

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Nursery Rhymes: What to Sing and Why They are Important

parentingNovember 30, 2021
Mother playing with 7 month old baby girl at home

by Catherine Lessman

Early Child Development Specialist

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We all grew up with the classic nursery rhymes and songs that we all know too well. But did you know that having learned them was important for our developmental growth? Nursery rhymes are said to have been created to teach children about morality, rules, and history. Of course, these days, many of the verses are outdated or sometimes politically incorrect. That does not mean that we turn on the radio and skip the old school classics with our little ones! Nursery rhymes are still vastly important to grow many developmental skills. Nursery rhymes are most important in helping promote language skills with babies and early toddlers. The repetition, simplicity, and musicality help children… Read More

We all grew up with the classic nursery rhymes and songs that we all know too well. But did you know that having learned them was important for our developmental growth? Nursery rhymes are said to have been created to teach children about morality, rules, and history. Of course, these days, many of the verses are outdated or sometimes politically incorrect. That does not mean that we turn on the radio and skip the old school classics with our little ones! Nursery rhymes are still vastly important to grow many developmental skills.

Nursery rhymes are most important in helping promote language skills with babies and early toddlers. The repetition, simplicity, and musicality help children learn words, sounds, and how to link them together to communicate better. Add finger or body movements to them, and now you are promoting gross motor, fine motor, 1-2 step directions, and listening skills all in one!

Nursery Rhymes to Teach Your Child

Now that you understand that Mother Goose had the right idea, here are some of my favorite nursery rhymes and how they help promote child development:

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

This is a classic and maybe the most popular nursery rhyme to date. It helps our littles understand repetition, like all rhymes, and also explains the world above us. Where do stars live? What do they do? It then leaves that question of wonder for our littles to explore more. Pairing with our classic finger play, this rhyme helps develop gross and fine motor skills as well.

I’m a Little Teapot

Explaining size, even in its title, this rhyme will help your child understand the concept of short and stout in no time. The idea of cause and effect is also introduced in this short rhyme, all while adding some gross motor skills to perfect.

London Bridge is Falling Down

Sung initially to recall history, this classic version will help your child learn to work well with others. Encouraging partner play with its acting out of the story, this nursery rhyme is perfect for your toddler learning how to grow those social-emotional skills.

Mary Had a Little Lamb

While nothing would surprise us these days at school, learning about rules, boundaries, and the basic colors of animals are all things this tale will accomplish.

Humpty Dumpty

This short nursery rhyme has a lot of meaning in its little verses. Teaching about safety, boundaries, and helping others is at the forefront. Understanding disappointment and that not all things can be repaired is also an underlying message for littles to learn.

Hey Diddle Diddle

Most of the things that happen in this classic rhyme are just silly—a trait we want our children to learn and laugh with. The repetition and rhythmic pace this rhyme takes also help with diction and communicative skills.

Baa Baa Black Sheep

Besides learning how to make the sound a lamb makes, this song promotes counting, asking for help, and sharing all in one.

Hickory Dickory Dock

This sensory nursery rhyme allows us, as the adult, to run the mouse up and down, and it creates a sensory experience for our little one as well. Once they grow, the concept of time, sequencing, and counting are all skills being promoted.

Pop! Goes the Weasel

The fun pace of this nursery rhyme will have your little one asking for more. Using it to promote popping out at them is a great game to help with separation anxiety, silliness, and not being scared by sudden surprises.

This Little Piggy

If you can remember what each pig does, this sequential classic will help your child learn so much from order to memory, touch, finger play, and fun. But people now realize the darker meaning behind this nursery rhyme. No, the first piggy was not going to the market to go shopping . . .

Little Miss Muffet

Who wouldn’t run away from a spider? This tongue twister of a rhyme can help straighten out those language skills while having fun with the finger play accompanying it.

This Old Man

Learning to count to ten is made simple with this classic rhyme. Not to mention the actual rhythm that is made is always easy to remember and adds to the skills of repetition.

Jack and Jill

Sometimes there are consequences to our actions. Jack and Jill teach us about just that with this cautionary tale.

Ring Around the Rosy

More of a song to accompany a game, this classic helps with social-emotional learning, knowing when to stop, and following the directions in the rhyme. And if we think about the lyrics and look at history, the song is actually about the plague.

Polly Puts the Kettle On

Repetition is on high for this nursery rhyme, but teaching the opposites of on and off, repetition, phonics, and alteration are all skills developed when singing this classic.

We always promote reading to our little ones to help encourage certain developments. Nursery rhymes do just the same and can be easier to “pull out” no matter where you are with your child. The key is for us as parents to remember the words. Here is a complete list of all the nursery rhymes so that you can brush up on your childhood favorites!