Exposure to nursery rhymes is an important building block for literacy. When I began as a children’s librarian, I asked a number of Kindergarten teachers for advice. They said that children were coming to Kindergarten without knowing nursery rhymes, and it would help a great deal if I taught them. I have always loved nursery rhymes, so I was happy to do this.
My signature nursery rhyme is Hickory Dickory Dock. I have a mouse puppet that I named Maureen. She always appreciates it when the children sing her favorite rhyme. In fact she gives everyone kisses at the end of the storytime she is so happy.
The rhyming is an important part, but singing the rhymes makes an even more powerful learning tool. When we sing, we pronounce each syllable more distinctly. This helps children understand that words are made of letters, each letter has its own sound, and when we group the letters together they make interesting sounds. Singing helps a child hear bits of sound at a time.
Because I have difficulty carrying a tune, I need adults to help me in all my storytimes. I’m not giving singing lessons. I’m breaking words into syllables and that’s something everyone can do with children.
P.S. I won a trivia contest recently, because the final question had to do with the 2nd verse of Jack and Jill. I was the only one who knew the answer. How fun is that?
Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water. Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after.
Up Jack got and home did trot as fast as he could caper. He went to bed and wrapped his head with vinegar and brown paper.
Imaginative play comes from a child’s experiences in the world. Visiting places where you can see animals in the wild will lead to more imaginative play about animals. It will also bring more stories to life, since so many stories for young children involve animals
Walking through the conservation land in Chelmsford is a wonderful way to see animals and plants. Thanksgiving Forest is bordered by River Meadow Brook and Great Brook Farm State Park.
Bunnies may not be welcomed at the Community Gardens, but you can certainly see lots of plants. The library created a StoryWalk around the gardens to provide yet another outdoor activity in town for young children. I wonder what the StoryWalk would look like if you pretended you were a bunny family?…
Talk about your visit to the library.
“We are going to the library today. Let’s gather all our library books.”
“Which ones were our favorites this past week?”
“I really liked how funny the bear was in that book. What did you like best?”
“What books do you want to look for when we are at the library?”
Talking to children seems to be too obvious to mention. Everyone talks to children.
Research is being done on very young children to support our wisdom that talking to children matters a lot. Quantity matters. The more we provide child-directed speech, the faster and more reliable the child will be in interpreting speech. That seems obvious. The research shows that it is a child’s superior skill in processing language that leads to success in learning vocabulary. That’s why quantity matters as much or more than using “big words”.
So talk to children often throughout the day. Use a variety of words when you think of them. Engage them in conversations as they get older.
And remember – speech needs to be directed at the child for this to work. Speech that is simply overheard is unrelated to vocabulary development.