Wandering with Wee Willie Winkie
Do you know the rhyme?
“Wee Willie Winkie runs through the town,
Upstairs and downstairs, in his nightgown.
Rapping at the windows, peering through the locks,
Crying, “Are the children in their beds? It’s now 8 o’clock.”
Older elementary students can take a bit of inspiration for creating whimsical designs to go with the poem, while younger students will enjoy retelling the story again and again.
Let your students construct dioramas, make puppet show sets and do a little clothes construction to go along with the beloved Scottish nursery rhyme based on the work of the Town Crier. Legend has it that the character was named for William of Orange, who became England’s King William III.
Telling Willie’s Story
- Review the poem with the children.
- Group students in pairs or triads. Ask them to write a script based on the nursery rhyme and add their own details and dialogue to the outline.
- Provide them with paper, fabric, yarn, paints, markers and other art supplies along with craft sticks or tongue depressors.
- Ask the groups to make stick puppets to match the characters in their scripts as well as scenery backdrops. Encourage them to embellish the puppets and settings.
- Allow the groups to enact their puppet plays for the rest of the class.
Read the poem with students. Ask them what Willie might see through a keyhole compared to what he might see through the window.
Ask students to bring shoeboxes to class for this project. Round oatmeal boxes, well-rinsed half-gallon milk cartons, or sturdy food boxes will work as well.
- Cut a small hole in one end of the box using a craft knife. Tape a piece of plastic wrap to the inside of the box, behind the hole.
- Cut out one long side of the box, leaving a 3/4 to 1 inch frame. Tape plastic wrap to the inside of this opening as well.
- Ask students to create a diorama to show what Wee Willie Winkie might have seen on his rounds.
- Place the lid back on the box and tape or glue it closed.
Ask students to write descriptive essays comparing and contrasting what they can see as they look through the “window” and the “lock” of their scene.
- Share pictures of old-fashioned nightshirts with students.
- Tell your students to imagine that they have been invited to enter one or more designs for a sleepwear line based on Wee Willie Winkie’s nightgown.
- Provide fabric or scrapbook paper and other craft materials and allow students to make prototypes of nightshirts. Allow students to earn extra credit by making a life-sized prototype of their designs to share with the class. Encourage even more creativity by allowing them to include their own designs for accessories like slippers, bathrobes or even matching lanterns or candlesticks. After all, Willie Winkie would have needed some light on his rounds!
- Display the designs. Extend the lesson by allowing students to vote on the best nightshirt.
Allow students to make their own nightcaps.
Things You Will Need:
- Measuring tape
- Tissue or tracing paper
- Dressmakers’ pins
- Muslin or cotton fabric
- Craft or fabric glue
- Jingle bells (optional)
- Cardboard scrap
Here's what to do:
- Measure around the students’ heads. Add one inch to the measurement.
- Draw a triangular pattern with a base that matches the measurement.
- Pin the pattern to muslin or other cotton fabric and cut it out.
- Allow students to decorate the cap with appliques, rubber stamps, paint, fibers, beads or other materials.
- Overlap the edges 1/2 inch to form a cone. Glue the edges together.
- Make pom-poms for the tip of the cap. Alternatively, allow them to stitch jingle bells to the end of the cap.
- Cut a piece of cardboard about two inches long.
- Wrap yarn around the cardboard about 20 or 30 times. Eyelash and other specialty yarns are especially fun for use in this part of the project.
- Cut a 4 ½-inch length of yarn.
- Slip the length under the yarn on one side of the cardboard. Slide it to one end and tie it in a double overhand knot.
- Slide the bundle off the cardboard.
- Cut the loops open at the end opposite the tie.
- Hand-stitch the ball to the cap’s tip.
Use these Wee Willie Winkie art projects to jumpstart your own creative ideas for this and other nursery rhyme inspirations.
For more lyrics and a video of the song, check out:
Bus Songs: Wee Willie Winkie, https://bussongs.com/songs/wee_willie_winkie.php
The activities come from the author's classroom experience
Image: Children's Library promotion poster by Cleo Sara. Works Projects Administration Federal Art Program under Public Domain