Writing a Nursery Rhyme

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A Volume of Mother Goose nursery rhymes. Students need writer's notebooks and a pencil. A Smartboard or LCD projector is helpful for projecting nursery rhymes used on the lesson. Otherwise, write out the rhymes on the blackboard or whiteboard.


This presentation works well for younger as well as older students. Students need only to be able to read and write.


1. Using a Smartboard, or an LCD projector, open this link: http://www.zelo.com/FAMILY/NURSERY/. If you do not have these resources, you'll need a volume of Mother Goose tales, and to write out several nursery rhymes where child can read and comment on them.

2. The first writing activity is based on "Hickory Dickory Dock." The second is based on "Baa, Baa Black Sheep."

3. Hickory dickory dock
The mouse ran up the clock
The clock struck one
The mouse ran down
Hickory dickory dock

4. Read "Hickory Dickory Dock." Point out that it has a mouse that climbs a surprising object, a clock. "In your notebooks, write down the name of an animal, and the name of something the animal climbs."

5. "Now, take the object you've written down and name something it does. "In Hickory Dickory," the clock strikes one. If you used a horse who climbed a rock, the rock could break, or it could fall, or it could tumble, etc.

6. Write down what the animal does in response to the object. For example, if the rock broke, the horse could fly.

7. Now, ask students to write a nonsense phrase similar to hickory dickory dock. "Hippety, hoppity hop..." such as "Drubbity dubbity din"

8. Students share their animal, their object, what the object does, what the animal does, and their nonsense phrase.

9. Give the students 8 to ten minutes to compose a nursery rhyme with the information they have written down.

10. Students share their writing.

During the same period, I move on to a second prompt, "Baa Baa Black Sheep."

1. Visit zelo.com, or write Baa Baa Black Sheep on the board.

2. Baa baa black sheep, have you any wool?
Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full!
One for the master, one for the dame,
And one for the little boy who lives down the lane.

3. Read the ryme. Note that this nursery rhyme is about having a gift (the wool) and sharing it with three others: the master, the dame, the boy.

4. Have students write down the name of an animal.

5. Write down the name of the animal's gift. If your animal is a horse, the gift can be surprising, like "speed."

6. Write down the amount of the gift. The sheep's gift is "thee bags full." The horse's gift might be, "a sky full of speed."

7. Ask students to write down three receivers of the gift. "Who receives the gift of wool?" (master, dame, little boy)

8. Give students about five minutes to take their collected information and compose a nursery rhyme. I insist on a silent atmosphere whenever students write. Some will finish a nursery rhyme quickly and want to show me. Instead, I ask them to write another.

9. I recommend writing a nursery rhyme with your students. They will love to hear what you have written!

10. Ask if anyone would like to share their nursery rhyme.

Control Of Error

While students share I circulate to make sure each child has made an effort.

Points Of Interest

Nursery rhymes are especially effective in teaching kids about rhythm. I you like, it would be a great place to introduce metrics to older students.


Direct Aim: Teaching children how to write a nursery

Indirect Aim: To show that nursery rhymes are literature. To prepare students for an editing/revision session that emphasizes editing for rhythm and rhyme.


Use any nursery rhyme that appeals to you. You may have a favorite from childhood, or one you associate with your own children. Brief stories about why you like a particular rhyme add interest for children.