January 12, 2022 | Kristen Jordan
Every morning, we devote a chunk of time to singing and saying Rhymes and Chants together. We try to do an array of songs and chants that are catchy and that children can remember.
The work we do at this time ranges from traditional nursery rhymes to simply stretching or moving our bodies to get the wiggles out! Sometimes we say theme or season-related chants like “Little Bo Peep”, when we were working on being sheep for the Christmas story. At other times, we might do a rhyme that helps children focus on a particular body part, such as fingers in “Two Little Blackbirds”.
When children learn words, and hand and body motions for songs or rhymes, they are working on many different things.
Children must practice listening skills, and coordinating what they are saying with their mouths with what they are doing with their bodies.
They are working on sitting still and waiting their turn. (Sometimes you get to be Miss Muffet first and sometimes you get to be the spider who scares her away first!)
Children are also practicing using their voices and expressing themselves in front of others.
As children work all together they are engaging in whole-class activities that help them connect with one another and build community.
We do some Rhymes and Chants that help children to learn one another’s names: “Andrew. You are my friend!”. These chants also help children to experience communicating back and forth. “Miss Buckley, you are my friend!” (as the ball gets passed back and forth).
Many of the rhymes we do help children to gain practice with fine motor movements. When children sing a song with small hand movements like “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” or “Where is Thumbkin”, they are learning the names of their fingers and working on developing fine motor control with their hands.
Some of this work also engages children in doing gross motor movements. When children “Bear Walk” they are building arm strength, that in turn helps with fine motor skills (Bear Walking is a great one to do at home!). Or when we sing “Head, shoulders, knees and toes”, children move their whole bodies and they must really focus and listen!
Rhymes and chants also sometimes address more “academic” skills. They can be mathematical. Counting up or down is addition and subtraction. “5 Little Pumpkins” counts down from 5 to 0!
Rhymes and Chants are helpful for literacy development as they can be an important tool for language acquisition and speech development. Children hear and say tons of words! They must listen for sounds that are the same and sounds that are different. Learning rhyming words helps children to think about how words might be similar. Hearing beats or rhythm helps children gain an early understanding of syllables and words. Children also hear language patterns and repetition. Even if children aren’t aware of these things as they do them, all of this work contributes to their early literacy development.
Last but not least, it is just plain, old, fun to sing and say Rhymes and Chants! You might ask your child at home to teach you some of their favorites Rhymes or Chants!
Bear be nimble
Bear be quick
Bear jump over the candlestick!