Because we all hear nursery rhymes throughout our lives they are a good starting point for beginning to read.
It is widely recognised by reading experts that children who have learned and absorbed the traditional nursery rhymes before they come to school have an advantage when it comes to beginning reading. Extensive research has proved that children who cannot recognise words that rhyme with each other often have difficulties when learning to read. Some children come into school knowing rhymes, some do not. Learning and reciting the rhymes together is an excellent beginning strategy towards the sharing and use of language.
The rhythm of the rhymes helps children to remember the words, which, in turn, helps to develop their auditory memory skills. When they have learned the words and then see them in print they find they can ‘read’ them. Not only will this give them a greater understanding of how the written word represents the sung or spoken word but it will help to develop their visual memory.
Once you have worked through this activity sheet, have the children make up their own rhymes using the rhythms of the rhymes, or using specific words and building on them. For example:
Hickory, dickory, dock
The puppy has pinched my sock.
Hickory dickory dock.
Use sounds and letter blends from the rhymes to make word collections. For example: ‘ck’ from hickory.
This idea is drawn from How to Sparkle at Nursery Rhymes which contains worksheets for 20 popular nursery rhymes, for use during the Foundation Stage or at Key Stage 1 (KS1).