Using Nursery Rhymes to improve phonemic awareness

Using Nursery Rhymes to Improve Phonemic Awareness Skills

Phonemic awareness skills are essential in early childhood and play a crucial role in developing strong reading abilities. One effective and engaging way to enhance these skills is through the use of nursery rhymes. They have been a part of childhood for generations, captivating young minds with their rhythmic patterns and melodic verses. However, their importance extends beyond entertainment; they can serve as powerful tools for language development and phonemic awareness.

nursery rhyme for kids

The Knowledge of Nursery Rhymes

Have you ever wondered how nursery rhymes can make a difference in your reading skills? Well, get ready to discover the secrets behind these catchy and fun rhymes! When it comes to learning to read, nursery rhymes play an important role, especially in the early stages of childhood.

First off, let’s talk about word recognition. Nursery rhymes expose us to different words and phrases, helping us become familiar with their sounds and meanings. As we listen to and repeat the rhymes, we start recognizing words more easily when we see them in books or hear them in conversations. It’s like having a secret decoder ring that helps us unlock the meaning of words.

But nursery rhymes don’t just stop at single words; they also teach us about word parts. Words are made up of smaller parts called syllables. Syllables are like puzzle pieces that come together to form words. They help us become aware of these syllables by breaking words into smaller, easier-to-understand chunks. This makes it easier for us to pronounce words and read them fluently.

Syllable awareness is like magic to learning to read. When we know how to break words into syllables, it becomes a superpower! We can figure out how many syllables are in a word just by clapping or tapping along with the rhythm of a nursery rhyme. This skill helps us become better readers because we can identify patterns and understand how words are put together.

Think about the rhyme “Humpty Dumpty.” It goes like this: “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.” By saying these lines out loud, we can hear that “Humpty Dumpty” has two syllables each: Hum-pty-Dump-ty. It’s like a word puzzle, and solving it makes us feel like word detectives!

If we look at “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”, we will be able to focus on syllables as well. You’ve probably heard this one before: “The itsy bitsy spider climbed up the water spout.” Did you notice that “itsy bitsy” has two syllables: it-sy and bit-sy? Did you notice that they rhyme as well?By understanding syllables, we become better at breaking down words and recognizing their parts.

Learning nursery rhymes is not only fun but also helps us become good listeners. When we listen carefully to the rhymes, we train our ears to hear different sounds in words. This skill is called phonemic awareness, and it’s like having a superpower for reading and spelling. The more we practice phonemic awareness through them, the better we become at recognizing and manipulating the sounds in words.

nursery rhymes for kids

Nursery rhymes are more than just catchy tunes. They help us with word recognition, understanding word parts, and developing syllable awareness. Plus, they make learning to read feel like a fun game. 

Using Nursery Rhymes in the Home Environment

Now that we know how awesome nursery rhymes are for improving our reading skills, let’s dive into how we can make the most of them right at home. The home environment is the perfect place to unleash the power of them and have a blast while learning!

One cool way to incorporate nursery rhymes into our daily routine is by making them a part of everyday activities. Imagine brushing your teeth while singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” or tidying up your room while reciting “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary.” By adding them to these tasks, we turn them into fun and memorable experiences. Bonus! It’s a great way to make boring chores more fun for the kids.!

evening family reading. father reads children . book before going to bed .

We can also get hands-on with nursery rhymes. Create crafts or art projects inspired by your favorite rhymes. For example, you can make a paper plate Humpty Dumpty or a spider web with the Itsy Bitsy Spider crawling up. These activities not only let your creativity shine but also reinforce the themes and characters from the songs.

Another way to enjoy nursery rhymes is by exploring nursery rhyme books. There are so many colorful and beautifully illustrated books filled with our favorite rhymes. Flip through the pages, read them aloud, and let the words and pictures come to life. These books make them even more engaging and capture our imagination. And, as we know, children love being read to every day.

By incorporating nursery rhymes into our home environment, we create a strong foundation for learning. They help us become good listeners, develop a love for reading, and build essential language skills. They make learning feel like play, and who doesn’t love that?

Nursery Rhymes in Elementary School

We’ve talked about how nursery rhymes work their magic in early childhood, but what about when we enter elementary school? Well, guess what? They still have a special place in our learning journey, even as we become more advanced readers.

Nursery rhymes provide us with a strong foundation for exploring new concepts and challenges. Remember those repetitive words we mentioned earlier? They help us understand the concept of alliteration, which is when words start with the same sound. These tales are masters of alliteration! Just think of “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.” Tongue twisters like this make learning about alliteration super fun.

Nursery rhymes also play a crucial role in helping us become proficient readers. By mastering the skills we learned in early childhood, such as phonemic awareness and syllable recognition, we become more confident in our reading abilities. We start recognizing familiar word patterns and using our word detective skills to decipher new words. Children still rely on their skills learned when studying them. 

We can easily spot rhyming words and appreciate the musicality of written words.

Nursery rhymes also have a secret weapon for developing our vocabulary—the power of storytelling! Many of these songs tell stories or have characters we can relate to, like Little Miss Muffet or Jack and Jill. By diving into these rhymes, we engage our imaginations and expand our vocabulary. We learn new words, their meanings, and how they fit into exciting stories.

Examples of Nursery Rhymes and Their Benefits

Colorful magnetic letters spelling nursery rhymes on blue board

Nursery rhymes have this ability to make reading feel like a fun game. When we recite rhymes and sing along, we develop a natural sense of rhythm and flow in language. This rhythm helps us read with fluency and expression. It’s like we’re performing a mini concert with our voices while reading!

Reading nursery rhymes boost our word recognition skills too. By repeatedly hearing and saying rhyming words, we become familiar with their sounds and patterns. This familiarity helps us quickly identify words when we see them in books. 

Nursery rhymes teach us about word families. A word family is a group of words that have the same ending sound or chunk. Also they expose us to different words from the same family, like “cat,” “bat,” and “hat.” By recognizing these patterns, we become better at decoding new words and expanding our vocabulary.

Nursery rhymes also nurture our love for storytelling. As we delve into rhymes like “Little Bo Peep” or “Hey Diddle Diddle,” we encounter imaginative characters and fascinating tales. These stories ignite our imagination and inspire us to explore books with even more enthusiasm. 

Next Steps

Nursery rhymes guide us through the early stages of our reading journey. They provide a strong foundation of language skills, like phonemic awareness, word recognition, and syllable awareness. With these skills in our reading toolbox, we tackle new words and texts with confidence.

But nursery rhymes don’t just leave us after we’ve mastered the basics. They continue to walk alongside us as we grow as readers. As we enter more challenging books and encounter complex concepts, they become our secret weapon. They help us understand alliteration, expand our vocabulary, and appreciate the rhythm and flow of language.

Not only do nursery rhymes sharpen our reading skills, but they also foster a love for reading. The joy and excitement we experience while reciting rhymes stay with us as we dive into books. These songs have planted a seed of curiosity that grows into a lifelong passion for reading and learning.

Think of nursery rhymes as our reading sidekick, always ready to support and accompany us on our reading adventures. They’re like the best friend who cheers us on, makes us laugh, and encourages us to explore new worlds through the pages of a book. With these poems by our side, reading becomes a thrilling and rewarding journey.


What is phonemic awareness, and why is it important for reading?

Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate individual sounds (phonemes) in spoken words. It is a crucial skill for reading because it helps children understand the sound structure of words, which leads to better decoding and reading comprehension. Nursery rhymes play a significant role in developing phonemic awareness by exposing children to rhyming words and the sounds within words.

Can nursery rhymes help children with learning difficulties or dyslexia improve their phonemic awareness?

Yes, nursery rhymes can be beneficial for children with learning difficulties or dyslexia. The repetitive nature of the songs helps reinforce sound patterns, aiding in the development of phonemic awareness. Additionally, the engaging and enjoyable nature of them can make learning more enjoyable and accessible for children who may struggle with traditional reading instruction.

Are there specific nursery rhymes that are more effective for developing phonemic awareness?

While all nursery rhymes provide opportunities for developing phonemic awareness, some rhymes may have particular features that enhance certain phonemic skills. Rhymes with alliteration, such as “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,” can help children focus on initial sounds. Rhymes with words that have different ending sounds, like “Hickory Dickory Dock,” can promote sound discrimination. However, exposure to a variety of nursery rhymes is key to providing a well-rounded phonemic awareness experience.

Can nursery rhymes be used with older students or learners of English as a second language?

Absolutely! Nursery rhymes are not limited to early childhood; they can be enjoyed and beneficial for older students and English language learners as well. Nursery rhymes provide opportunities for language practice, vocabulary building, and understanding the rhythm and patterns of English. They can be a fun and engaging way to reinforce phonemic awareness and develop language skills, regardless of age or language proficiency.

Are there any resources or websites where I can find a wide selection of nursery rhymes to use with my child or students?

Yes, there are numerous resources available for finding them. Some popular websites include Mother Goose Club, KidsTV123, and BBC Nursery Rhymes. You can also find nursery rhyme collections in books or online platforms like YouTube or streaming services. Additionally, many children’s books or educational websites dedicated to early literacy include a variety of nursery rhymes along with activities to support phonemic awareness development.

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