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Teaching with Nursery Rhymes: Hickory, Dickory, Dock Activities

written by: Laurie Patsalides • edited by: Benjamin Sell • updated: 1/17/2012

Hickory, Dickory, Dock is an old favorite rhyme to teach with. Children and teachers alike enjoy the sing-song way it is written. Learn to make a teaching unit on nursery rhymes and in particular Hickory, Dickory, Dock.

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    Fun Rhyme

    Hickory, Dickory, Dock is a fun rhyme for children to learn. Before starting these activities, print the rhyme on chart paper (an example is given below). These Hickory, Dickory, Dock activities can supplement your rhyming lesson plans and are a part of a series on teaching word families with Mother Goose rhymes.

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    Hickory Dickory Dock

    Monday: Read the nursery rhyme, Hickory, Dickory, Dock. It is a nonsensical nursery rhyme with alliteration. Define alliteration for the students (the repetition of beginning constants or syllables usually neighboring each other in a poem or nursery rhyme). The first publication date for "Hickory, Dickory, Dock" is believed to be 1744. It is believed to have its origin in America. Show students the versions of Hickory, Dickory, Dock that you have collected. Create a Venn Diagram on the likes and differences between texts. Discuss the sound of father clock. Ask the students to imagine what the mouse is thinking!

    Tuesday: Define new vocabulary. Hickory, Dickory, Dock is Celtic for "eight, nine, ten", but again, be wary because there are many different philosophies about the meaning of this nursery rhyme. As a fun activity, as the students what the words may mean. Could they be just fun rhyming sound words like the tick-tock of a clock?

    Wednesday: Choose the rhyming words and chart them (in this case "hickory" and "dickory" are next to one another in the text, not always at the end of the sentence as in other rhymes we have learned). Other rhymes in this text are dock and clock, one and down.

    Thursday: Chart a word family list for -ock (for example, lock, dock, clock, tock, mock, smock, rock, jock, stock and so on). Chart a word family list for -own (down, clown, frown, blown and so on). Notice with children that the end of the word usually stays the same in a word family. If desired you can make a third list of word families with the root -one (for example, done, phone, one, tone, bone, cone, gone, lone, hone and so on.)

    Friday: Let children enjoy and discuss the book collection that you have displayed. Assign students numbers to rhyme with. For example, what if the clock struck two (three, four) what would happen to the mouse? Provide an example to follow if necessary... the clock struck two, the mouse turned blue.... When finished they can rewrite the poem with their new rhyming words.

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    Student Practice

    For extra practice and Hickory, Dickory, Dock activities students can practice filling in the blank lines for the Hickory, Dickory, Dock rhyme on The Once Upon a Time website.

    Have students listen to a recording of a Grandfather Clock striking one on headphones to hear what the mouse might have heard.

    As with any of the nursery rhymes in this series, students are going to love learning about words in a sing-song way!

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    Pictures, Courtesy of; Poem/Chart by Laurie Patsalides

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