Nursery Rhymes



Baa, Baa Black Sheep

Hey Diddle, Diddle

Hickory, Dickory, Dock

Humpty Dumpty

Jack Be Nimble

Jack and Jill

Little Boy Blue

Little Jack Horner

Little Miss Muffet

Mary Had a Little Lamb

Mistress Mary

Old King Cole

Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

In the past, most children came to school knowing at least a couple of nursery rhymes such as Jack and Jill and Humpty Dumpty.  However, these days, many students come to school without being able to recite even one nursery rhyme.  It is frequently said that parents are not spending as much time reading and interacting with their children as in the past, which causes this lack of familiarity with well-known children's rhymes.  With most parents now working outside the home, the hectic pace of society, and the invasion of electronics, spending quality time with the children often gets pushed towards the bottom of the list.  The results seem to be that these children often come to school without a sense of phonemic awareness.  Without phonemic awareness and the basic concepts of print, students often begin their academic career lagging behind their peers.  This in turn often causes them difficulty when learning to read. The teaching of nursery rhymes is an excellent place to begin building phonemic awareness and memorization skills.  And once your students learn one or two nursery rhymes, you’ll often hear them reciting them to themselves and their peers.  They enjoy being able to recite them, and they have fun with the rhyming sounds.  Another plus is that you, as the teacher, will get untold enjoyment listening to them say them.  It never fails to bring a smile to my face (and my TA’s) as we listen to my students.  Every year there’s at least one (and usually more than one) who can be heard saying:  Blah, blah, black sheep …..  One for my master, one for my name …  or Hunky, Dunky sat on a wall. :)

How you prefer to teach the nursery rhymes is a personal choice.  Some teachers prefer to teach a Nursery Rhymes Unit, some teach a nursery rhyme a week, and some teach them according to how they tie into other skills and units that they’re teaching.  I’ve done some of all three.  I recently sat down to see how the different nursery rhymes could be incorporated into skills and units that were already being taught.  This is the list that I’ve come up with so far:


Hickory, Dickory, Dock ~ time, opposites/position words (up/down)
Jack Be Nimble ~ position words (over); Letter J
Little Boy Blue ~ position words (under); Color: blue; Farm
Humpty Dumpty ~ opposites/position words (on/off); Easter (eggs); Letter H, D, E; Color: white
Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater ~ Halloween; Fall; Pumpkins; Color: orange; Letter P
Jack and Jill ~ Letter J; opposites/position words (up/down/after)
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star ~ Space; position words (above/in)
Baa, Baa, Black Sheep ~ Farm; Color: black; Letter B; Counting to 3
Hey Diddle, Diddle ~ Letter D; position words (over)
Little Jack Horner ~ position words/opposites (in/out); Fruits; Color: purple
Little Miss Muffet ~ position words (on); Halloween; Spiders; Letter M; Color: black (spider)
Mary Had a Little Lamb ~ Farm, Back to School; Letter M; Color: white
Mistress Mary ~ Spring; Plants/Gardening; Letter M

The following are some resources for teaching nursery rhymes in general.  For activities specifically for each nursery rhyme, click on the link in the table for that nursery rhyme. All links will not work to begin with, as it takes a while to build each web page.  When the page goes online, the link will become active.

Review: Because many of my students have poor memorization skills we review the nursery rhymes that we learn every day.  To keep everyone on track, we start with the first one that we learn then do them in sequential order as we learned them.  The students not only get practice in memorizing the rhymes, but also memorize the order in which they’re learned.  The “leaders” in the group always get a big kick out of being the one that remembers the order of the nursery rhymes and practically lead without any assistance from me.  Because they want to demonstrate their skill for the rest of  the group, they speak loudly and it seems to enhance group participation. 

Another idea to use for daily review would be to show the group a “prop” for each rhyme.  For instance if you wanted them to recite Humpty Dumpty, you would show them a plastic egg.

Nursery Rhyme Boxes: Put together a prop box of sorts for each nursery rhyme you intend teaching.  An excellent box for this would be one of the larger size laundry detergent boxes that already comes with a handle.  The handle makes the box very portable and can be used anywhere in the classroom.  The boxes can be spray painted and you can add an appropriate graphic and the name of the rhyme to the front of the box.  The box can also be covered with contact paper if you prefer.  The size and storage of the boxes may present a problem for some.  Another alternative would be to use either shoeboxes or small plastic storage containers from Wal-Mart.

Inside the box you’ll want to put a laminated copy of the rhyme.  Try to make it as large as possible, but where it will still fit into the box.  The larger the print, the easier it is for students to track.  If you’re using a shoebox, you might want to glue your rhyme into the underside of the lid.  Along with the copy of the rhyme, you’ll also need props that coordinate with the rhyme.  For instance:

Humpty Dumpty ~ plastic egg; one of those large cardboard bricks that come in a set for young children, or blocks to build a wall, or a small rectangular box (like checks come in) covered to look like a wall; and maybe some soldiers for the “king’s men”.

Jack and Jill ~ a small pail, a cardboard hill, a picture of a well, pictures of Jack and Jill

Little Miss Muffet ~ a plastic spider, a bowl and spoon

Hey Diddle Diddle ~ a plastic spoon and plate, a toy cow, dog, cat; a moon photocopied onto cardstock, colored, and laminated.

Dramatic Play: In your dress up area, you can place clothes and props to be used to act out the rhymes.  You can also provide them with masks, puppets, and stick puppets.


Nursery Rhyme Matching Game: Using graphics appropriate for each rhyme, make a matching game on cardstock and laminate.  Choose two graphics for each rhyme.  For instance, for Hey Diddle Diddle you could have a card with a cow jumping over a moon, and another card with a dish and a spoon.  The students would have to find the matching cards for each rhyme.

Resource Book: Hang Loose, Mother Goose ~ Dale Timmons

Art Resource Book: Nursery Rhymes by TLC  Teaches learning to follow directions through art activities.  Art activities for:  Humpty Dumpty; Three Blind Mice; Hickory, Dickory, Dock;
Rub-a-dub-dub; London Bridge; Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star; Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater; The Black Hen; Little Miss Muffet; Old Mother Hubbard; Old Mother Goose

They also have another book, More Nursery Rhymes, which I believe includes activities for the following:  Jack Be Nimble; Rain, Rain; Little Jack Horner; Little Boy Blue; Jack and Jill; There Was an Old Woman; Hey, Diddle, Diddle; Baa, Baa! Black Sheep; Great A, Little a; To Market, To Market; Mary Had a Little Lamb.  (I do not have this book, but I intend on purchasing it soon.)

Resource: The Mailbox, Preschool (Apr/May 1999)

Mother Goose Field Day: This idea was posted on the ‘net.  Each student began the day with a necklace with a laminated picture of Mother Goose.  As they completed each station (7), they received an additional medallion for their necklace that coordinated with the station.  The stations were:

Humpty Dumpty:  plastic eggs placed on a 2 x 4 were shot off with squirt guns.

Little Jack Horner:  each student received a slice of pie to eat.

Jack Be Nimble:  students jumped over zig-zagged pillar candles.


Hey Diddle, Diddle:  children pretended to milk a cow.  A rubber glove was filled with water and tied off at the top.  Then the glove was tied below a saw horse, representing a cow udder.  A cow’s head (picture) and tail were added to the saw horse as well.

Mistress Mary:  students made a flower from egg cartons.

The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe:  Large sized shoes were worn by the students participating in a relay race.

Baa, Baa, Black Sheep:  children raced to fill 3 bags full of foam packing material.

Charts, Big Books, Poetry Journals: An excellent way to increase letter/word identification, concepts of print, recognition of sight words, and reading skills is to provide your students with the nursery rhymes in as many different formats as possible.  You can do this by providing them the opportunity to interact, both as a group and independently, with the rhymes on charts, in books, Big Books, and in Poetry Journals.  All of these things can be produced by you if need be.  Charts containing each rhyme can be as large or as small as needed.  Since I work with small groups, I often use a graphics program or a word processor to type up the rhymes and enlarge them to the size of a sheet of cardstock.  I add graphics if possible, then laminate them.  Since my white board is not magnetic, I purchased 2 suction cup hooks and I hang the poems/rhymes/songs on the hooks so that I can track with a pointer as we’re reading them.  We review them every day.  For those times when cardstock is not big enough, you can use a sheet or half a sheet of posterboard.  They can be hung on the board or on pants hanger and stored on an empty chart stand (picture).  You can then hang the hanger on a suction cup hook on the board while you’re reading the chart.

I also place each rhyme/song/poem that we do in each student’s Poetry Journal (click here to read about the
Poetry Journals).  You can type up the rhymes while leaving enough room to add colored graphics or graphics for them to color, or room for an art activity.

A Big Book for all the nursery rhymes can be made by typing up the text for each one and gluing it along with an enlarged graphic onto large sheets of construction paper or posterboard.  Laminate the pages then bind them into a book.

Flannelboard Activities: You can make flannel pieces for the rhymes in several different ways.  One way is to copy a graphic onto cardstock, color, laminate, and glue one or more small pieces of sandpaper or velcro to the back.

Another way is to trace the figures onto pellon (lightweight interfacing for fabric) with a Sharpie marker, then color using PERMANENT markers. Cut them out and you have flannelboard pieces ready to use. It’s important that you not use washable markers to color these.  If you do (like I did), you’ll find out that when the pieces are handled, the moisture from your hands makes the ink come off the pieces and onto your hands.

Overhead Projector Activities: Like the flannelboard, you can make pieces for the overhead projector that the students can use in reciting the rhymes.  Photocopy the pieces onto an overhead transparency, color with permanent marker, cut out, and you’re ready to go.

Listening Center Activity: You can tape each rhyme (once or twice) on a cassette to be used in the Listening Center.  Along with the cassette, you can also put an individual, teacher-made flannelboard and the flannelboard pieces to manipulate while they’re listening to the cassette.  The flannelboard pieces are made the same as the ones above.  The individual flannelboard is made by laminating a file folder, then gluing a piece of felt/flannel to the front of the folder.  Inside the folder, tape a ziploc bag to hold the flannel pieces.

Pocketcharts: Write each rhyme on sentence strips and place them in pocketcharts.  Use these the same way you would use a chart; group reading, Read the Room, Write the Room, and interactive charts.  To make them interactive, the students’ names can replace a name in the rhyme.  For instance, Jack be nimble would turn into Darren be nimble.  Write their names on 3x5 index cards and they can just be placed over the name on the sentence strip. 

You can also make two sets of sentence strips for each rhyme.  One set of sentence strips goes into the chart, the other set is cut apart.  The students will match the words to the text in the chart. More in-depth details can be found on the
Easter page where I explained this procedure using the Chocolate Bunny poem.

You can also have the students match pictures to the correct sentence strip, or have them sequence the sentence strips in the chart.

Nursery Rhyme Review Book: As you introduce a new rhyme, you can have the rhyme printed onto a page and have the students add some kind of art activity to the page as well.  When all the rhymes have been introduced, you can bind all the books together and each student will have a Nursery Rhyme Review Book.  A graphic of Mother Goose can be used on the book cover.

Sequencing: Make picture cards for each rhyme and have the students sequence them in the correct order.  The pocketchart is a good place for this.  You can also do this as an activity sheet as well. Instead of making cards, copy the pictures onto a sheet and have the students cut them out and glue them in the correct order. 

Letter/Word Discrimination: Give each student a copy of the rhyme that you’re working on.  Have them highlight specific letters or words.

Cloze Activity: This can be either oral or written.  The students are to complete the line(s) of the rhyme with a word or phrase.  For instance, Jack and Jill went up the ____.  The students would either have to tell you the word, or if it was in a pocketchart they could put in the correct picture or word.

Letter or the Week: If you use Letter of the Week (or work on a focus letter), then you might want to generate a list of rhymes to go with each letter.  For some help, you could purchase a Barney activity book from Wal-Mart (or similar places).  The one that I purchased has a rhyme for each letter:  A ~ An Apple a Day  C ~ Pat-A-Cake  You might not like the ones that they use, but it will at least get you started.  The activity book has a very simple activity to go along with each rhyme as well.  The clincher is … you have to put up with Barney and his friends in all the pictures and activities! ?

This list was posted on the ‘net.  The person who posted it used the rhymes to make charts for each letter.  I’m adding in some more as I go along.

Aa ~ Big A, Little a
        An Apple a Day

        Amos said to Amy
        and May said to me
        let’s run and find and acorn
        so we can plant a tree

Bb ~ Baa, Baa, Black Sheep
         Little Boy Blue
         Hot Cross Buns

Cc ~ Pat-A-Cake

        ABC … tumbledown D
        Cat’s in the cupboard
        and can’t see me

        Little Jack Horner (corner, Christmas)

Dd ~ Hickory Dickory Dock
         Hey Diddle, Diddle
         Rub-a-Dub, Dub
        Dickory Dickory Dare
        the pig flew up in the air
        the man in brown
        soon pulled him down
        Dickory Dickory Dare

Ee ~ Emily, Elizabeth, Elsbeth, and Bess
        all went together to seek a bird’s nest
        The found a nest with four eggs in it
        They took one and left 3 in it

        Engine, Engine Number Nine

Ff ~ Funny Little finny fish
       Do you wish to be a fish?
       Are you happy in your pool?
       Swimming in your little school?

       Fish Alive

Gg ~ Goosey, Goosey Gander

Hh ~ Humpty Dumpty

Ii ~ Ice Cream, Ice Cream
      I like you
      Chocolate, Vanilla,
      Strawberry too!

      Itsy, Bitsy Spider

Jj ~ Jack and Jill
      Jack Be Nimble

Kk ~ 3 Little Kittens

Ll ~ Little Lucy Locket Lost her Pocket

Mm ~ Little Miss Muffet
          Mary, Mary Quite Contrary
          Mary Had a Little Lamb

Nn ~ Little Nancy Etticoat
         in a white petticoat

          Jack Be Nimble

Oo ~ Old King Cole
         Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe

Pp ~ Pease Porridge Hot
        Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater

Qq ~ Jack Be Nimble (quick)
         Queen of Hearts

Rr ~ Ring Around the Rosy
        Rain, Rain
        Roses Are Red

Ss ~ Sing a Song of Sixpence
        Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe
        Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

Tt ~ Little Tommy Tucker
       Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

Uu ~ Uncle John has an umbrella
        He stands waiting for the bus
        And when it starts to rain
        He covers all of us!

Vv ~ Sweet Violets
        Sweeter than all the roses
        Covered all over from head to toe
        Covered all over with sweet violets
Ww ~ Wee Willie Winkie

Xx ~ Xray pictures let me see,
        all the bones inside of me
        other pictures just so skin,
        and usually a great big grin

Yy ~ Yankee Doodle

Zz ~ Zippety Doo Dah

Resource Book: The New Adventures of Mother Goose  Gentle Rhymes for Happy Times
Author: Bruce Lansky, Meadowbrook Press

Do You Know?: Provide each student, or group of students, with a Nursery Rhymes Box (a box containing items that are coordinated to the rhyme) and let them figure out which nursery rhyme goes with the items.

Extension Books:
The Enormous Watermelon
Each Peach Pear Plum ~ Eve Bunting
Dr. Seuss books
Hey Diddle Diddle & Other Mother Goose Rhymes ~ Tomie DePaola
The Real Mother Goose Clock Book ~ Scholastic Inc.

Resource Books:
Kinder Rhymes ~ Rigby
Nursery Rhyme Theme-a-Saurus ~ Totline

Music: Nursery Rhyme Medley ~ Dr. Jean’s “Is Everybody Happy?” CD

Rhyming Sort: This is a perfect time to work on rhyming words.  Write rhyming words on 3x5 index cards.  Place the “family names” in the top row of the pocketchart (at, an, og, en, eg).  Have the students sort their cards into the correct family.  The cards are put into the pocketchart going down.  So they don’t need any more than 9 cards for each “family”.  I laminated my cards so that they would last longer.

Manipulatives: Mother Goose wooden magnetic figures from Childwood.  They also come with mini-reproducible books and activities.

Graphing: Graph everyone’s favorite nursery rhyme.

Nursery Rhyme Riddles:

I went to school.
My lamb followed me.
Who am I?

We went to fetch water.
We fell down the hill.
Who are we?
(Jack and Jill)

I’m nimble and quick.
I jumped over the candlestick.
Who am I?
(Jack Be Nimble)

I sat on a wall.
When I fell off the wall, I broke.
Who am I?
(Humpty Dumpty)

I’m a merry old soul.
I called for my pipe, my bowl, and three fiddlers.
Who am I?
(Old King Cole)

I blow my horn to call the sheep.
I fell asleep under the haystack.
Who am I?
(Little Boy Blue)

I’m black and I give wool.
I have a bag of wool for my master, my dame,
and a little boy down the lane.
Who am I?
(Baa, Baa, Black Sheep)

I kissed some girls and made them cry.
Who am I?
(Georgie Porgie)

The little dog laughed
to see such sport.
The cow jumped over the moon.
What did the dish run away with?
(the spoon)

Hint: When sending home nursery rhyme projects, attach a copy of the rhyme to the project.  Parents may not remember all the things they use to! :)

Sticking With Nursery Rhymes: Devise a bulletin board with a small paper cup or pocket for each student.  When a child learns a rhyme, they get a craft stick with the name of the rhyme and a small graphic stuck to the end to put in their cup or pocket.  As the year passes, their collection of sticks increases.  If you use this, you will probably want to make the sticks reusable from one year to the next.  The year that I used it, it takes a while to come up with that many small graphics for that many sticks. 

Software: Mixed-up Mother Goose by MECC

Resources: The Mailbox,  Pre/K Feb/Mar 1992

                 The Mailbox, Kindergarten Dec/Jan 1998 - 00

                 Dinah Zike’s Big Book of Books

                 Nursery Rhyme Sequencing   Frank Schaffer Publications    FS-8602

Rigby Trade Books: Old Mother Hubbard
                              The Nursery Rhyme Picnic

Take-Home Activity: After introducing all or some of the nursery rhymes, send home a paper lunch bag with each student along with a letter to their parents.  In the letter explain that you would like them to help their child put one or more items in the bag that would coordinate with ONE nursery rhyme of their choosing.  For instance, for Humpty Dumpty they might put in a plastic egg and a toy soldier.  Also explain to them that the next day each student will return their bag and will take turns revealing the items in their bag.  As they reveal the items, the rest of the class will try to guess what nursery rhyme the items coordinate with.  As an added precaution, you might want to have them write the nursery rhyme down on a slip of paper to be added to the bag as well.  An alternate activity would be to allow the students who wished to, to dress as a character from one of the nursery rhymes.  Be sure to explain the assignment to your students as well before sending the assignment home.  It’s easy for parents to misinterpret instructions.

Nursery Rhyme Review:  Divide your students into groups and have them recite and act out a nursery rhyme.  Some teachers use this as an end-of-the-year program.



Sensory Book: Charlotte, a student from the UK, emailed me for ideas about a project for a nursery rhymes sensory book.  I loved this idea so I started thinking of some things that could be done in the classroom.  I have no idea if it's what she was looking for, but I had the idea of a a scrapbook type book similar to Pat the Bunny.  It would be a Mother Goose book of rhymes, but with something tactile on each page.  The pages need to be made from cardstock as some of the things will be heavy.  The girls' book could be bound with ribbon and the boys' with leather boot laces.  Decorate pages however .. similar to scrapbook.  And you wouldn't have to have just the one thing on the page ... like a hill.  You could have Jack and Jill there too somewhere, for the students to color or paint, but the textured part would be the hill.


Baa, Baa, Black Sheep - have students paint sheep outline black at the bottom of the page using black paint (at this point, these are just ideas .. but I'm thinking of using either black puffy paint, or black paint with sand mixed in to give a gritty texture  ... some kind of textured paint)


Mary Had a Little Lamb - do just the head of the lamb using white cottonballs and wiggly eyes


Jack and Jill - a green felt hill or something that looks more like grass

option 2 >the students could cut up green strips of construction paper, fringe and layer them

option 3 >aluminum foil for the pail


Little Boy Blue - haystack made with hay


Hickory Dickory Dock - color or paint mouse gray and add a gray cord tail


Little Miss Muffet - black spider with black pipecleaner legs and wiggly eyes


Hey Diddle Diddle - decorate a plastic spoon and hotglue to the page; add arms and legs with a crayon or markers


Humpty Dumpty - paint egg with white paint mixed with Karo to give it a slick texture and if you have a Humpty with a hat, add a small feather to his hat

option 2 >use a black crayon to draw bricks on a piece of brown sandpaper and glue onto paper.  Then add Humpty to the wall.


Jack Be Nimble - color a fat candle and use washable red, orange, & yellow markers to make marks on 1/4 of coffee filter.  Spritz coffee filter with water so that marker bleeds together.  When dry, cut into flame shape and bunch at bottom end and glue to top of candle.  (do not glue flat)


Mistress Mary - glue on silk flowers and have students draw in garden

option 2 >draw flowers and then add a white picket fence using white painted craft sticks. 


Old King Cole - paint gold crown and stick on jewels


Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater - use the Ellison to cut out orange pumpkin and then cut sideways H to make window that opens and draw Peter's wife inside.  Then for texture, add green twisted raffia for the vine and open some up and cut leaves to glue on the vine.


Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star - gold glitter star on dark blue wash of paint


Old Mother Hubbard - Use Shrink Art paper or clear plastic containers from deli that salads, cupcakes, muffins, etc. come in and trace bone outline using black Sharpie marker.  Have student color with permanent tan marker and initial with black Sharpie.   Cut out.  (This stuff isn't easy to cut.)  Pop into warm oven or toaster oven watching closely until bone shrinks flat.  Take out and cool.  Hot glue to page.  *Note - our cafeteria serves salads in these types of containers.  My TA and I wash and cut out the flat  part of our tops and save them year round.  So when we're ready to do something like this, we have our material already saved up.


Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe - just a circle for the head of the old woman and color and add facial features and then add gray yarn for hair


Now that I've gotten to the end of this book, :)  you might want to try and create your front and back cover using fabric covered cardboard or something thicker than cardstock.  I'm anxious to see how this project turns out! :)  Oh, a new idea just came to me.  Instead of using cardboard covers why not use a binder instead?  This would give you a nice protection for the pages and allow you to easily add pages as you went.  You could possibly find something that would help to keep the scrapbook feel (plus you could decorate it) and still use the ribbon or leather to provide fake bindings by just running them through the rings and tying them on the outside binding.


Rebus Rhymes

Nursery Rhymes Theme

Nursery Rhyme Family Night

Nursery Rhyme Artwork

Nursery Rhyme Words

Nursery Rhyme Olympics

Rimes and Rhymes

Mother Goose links

Mother Goose Pages

Zelo Nursery Rhymes

Hendersonville TN Police Dept Coloring Pages ...


Mother Goose on the Web

BBC Education - Post a Poem

Nursery Rhymes by Daughter Goose

Mama Lisa's House of Rhymes

Nursery Rhyme Land


The Real Mother Goose


Mother Goose Magic Show


Mrs. Goose Coloring Page


Letter and Rhyme a Day


First Nursery Rhymes Preschool Activities and Crafts


Preschool Education Arts & Crafts: Nursery Rhymes


Preschool Education Snacks: Nursery Rhymes


Nursery Rhymes


Why Nursery Rhymes?


Mother Goose


Teaching Nursery Rhymes


Mother Goose Rocks!


Mrs. Jones - Life Skills Nursery Rhymes and Literature


Nursery Rhymes Printables







last updated 6.30.10


Hit Counter

visitors since 11.11.03