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If you combine alphabet and counting songs, lullabies, tongue twisters and riddles, the result is an enlightening batch of nursery rhymes, the most famous are those of Mother Goose. Her words, perhaps centuries old are sung by many preschoolers and still quoted by the oldest seniors. Carry on the tradition with these hands-on crafts to accompany the rhymes.
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Nursery Rhyme Lacing Cards
Take a few of the children's favorite nursery rhymes and cut out shapes that reinforce the rhyme. For example, for Jack and Jill, you could cut out pail shapes. If you are reciting Hickory Dickory Dock, cut out shapes of a mouse and a clock. It's best to use cardboard or colored poster board for the shapes and decorate them as you wish.
Punch holes near the perimeter of each cutout. The children can take turns lacing the shapes with long, brightly colored shoelaces. This classroom craft will improve eye/hand coordination and shapes from most nursery rhymes can be made. This can also become an individual craft where each child is given the same shape to decorate and then lace. The children could take this craft home for extra lacing practice.
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Mary's Art Garden
Invite the children to draw a picture of a pretty maiden walking through her garden after reciting the nursery rhyme, Mary, Mary Quite Contrary. You could also peruse coloring books or search the Internet for a picture to photocopy for your class. Cut out the picture of the pretty maiden and glue her to a sheet of construction paper. Bring out the art bin and use different mediums to draw and color flowers and grasses. Think creatively about the flowers and offer pieces of fancy wallpaper and wads of colorful tissue paper to glue on the paper, or stampers to print with paint to enhance the picture. Let the children create a beautiful garden using their own creative process.
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Little Boy Blue's Haystack
Increase interest in this rhyme as you make a haystack craft where little boy blue fell asleep. Cut a haystack shape from brown construction paper (medium size). Invite the children to spread glue onto this shape and sprinkle on any of these art materials: bits of straw, hay, or crushed shredded wheat cereal. While this haystack dries, have the children draw and color a picture of little boy blue along with his horn on construction paper. When finished, they can glue their haystack just below the little boy.
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Create a Spider Web
As you recite the nursery rhyme of Little Miss Muffet, the children may enjoy making a spider and its web that scared poor Miss Muffet away. Punch holes all around the outside edge of a paper plate. Cut a length of yarn and wrap tape around the one end as a needle. Knot the other end of the yarn and tape it to the back of the plate. Encourage the children to weave the yarn into the holes going back and forth to produce a creative web. No two will be exactly alike. When the students finish weaving, it's time to make a spider. Draw a cut a spider shape from black construction paper (or other art materials) and glue this onto the plate inside the web.
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The Old Woman's Shoe
How many children did the little old woman have? Give the children a cutout shape of a large shoe or boot. Invite them to draw a picture of the little old woman in the middle of the shape. To decorate, the students can cut out pictures of children from old magazines and glue these onto the shoe, or adhere smiley face stickers, which the teacher provides.
There are many more craft ideas you can use, including Old Mother Hubbard craft for pre K; all are superb enrichment activities while teaching individual rhymes. Children can comprehend prose better when doing enhancement activities that helps them to better understand the concept.
There are many nursery rhyme books and audio sets at the library and bookstores to give you guidance, in the event you have forgotten the words or looking for new poems or rhymes for Pre K.
Here is a website that provides many of the favorite rhymes to help you.
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Personal experience in the classroom
The Best of Mailbox, Book 2; "Cut Loose With Mother Goose" retrieved April 7, 2011
Photos by the author, all rights reserved