The hidden value of nursery rhymes!

Hello Friends,

So, we all know them and have most likely found ourselves singing them over and over again in our minds, but have you ever thought deeper about how incredible nursery rhymes actually are for your little people’s learning and development?

So, what are the benefits?

There are strong links between nursery rhymes and children’s language and reading development. Nursery rhymes allow children to listen for, hear and share sounds in words. Activities like identifying rhyming words, generating their own rhyming words, identifying a word that doesn’t rhyme in a set of words and creating their own silly rhymes helps children develop *phonological awareness which is key for learning to read.

There is also a strong link between children’s early knowledge of nursery rhymes and their success in language and reading later on. This can be as simple as your little love being able to recite 4 nursery rhymes. So, start singing!!

Not only are nursery rhymes fantastic for literacy and language development, but they are also amazing for assisting to develop early numeracy skills, especially counting.

There are SO many great rhymes that focus on counting and numbers (we have created a list below) and that also allow children to be actively involved. They can use their friends, toys or any other object of interest to be ducks in ‘5 Little Ducks’ or use their favourite teddies for ’10 in the bed.’

By being actively involved in singing and re-creating the rhyme, your little people are learning the foundations of counting such as only counting each object once, the last number you say tells you how many altogether and that no matter which object you start counting from, it doesn’t change the quantity. Plus, the rhythm and repetition helps to remember the counting sequence easier and in a fun, joyful and playful way!

Acting out these rhymes also begins to develop children’s knowledge of quantities, more/less and early addition and subtraction. They can see that they are adding more each time in the rhyme ‘One Man went to Mow’ and as the bottles are taken away in ’10 green bottles’ they can see the number is getting smaller or less.

Below are some of our favourites for early numeracy development:

  • 5 cheeky monkeys jumping on the bed/swinging in the tree
  • 10 green bottles
  • One man went to mow
  • This old man
  • 10 in the bed
  • 5 little ducks
  • 1,2,3,4 5, once I caught a fish alive
  • 5 current buns
  • One, two, buckle my shoe
  • The ants go marching


Wait! There’s more…

You know that we here at Willow Eve Play understand the multi-faceted nature of child development and value the whole child so of course, we want to share more than just the literacy and numeracy benefits with you.

A great way to extend is to get creative and get your little people to design and create puppets to match the nursery rhymes. They can be as simple as drawing and cutting out a monkey and taping a paddle pop stick to the back. As well as inspiring their imagination and creativity, the cutting and decorating will also strengthen their fine motor skills.

Fine and gross motor skills are also developed and strengthened when they clap hands in ‘if you’re happy and you know it,’ when they use their fingers for ‘incy wincy spider’ and when they cross the midline in hand clapping games like those used in ‘pease porridge hot.’

You can also use dress ups and costumes to add even more joy! Our range of musical instruments are also the perfect addition to engage little minds and to add another element to the play and learning.

Please help us in spreading awareness about making learning FUN and advocating for your child’s learning and development by liking and sharing this blog post using the social links at the top or bottom of the page if you found it insightful or inspiring in any way!

Happy rhyming!  


* Phonological awareness is the ability to recognize and manipulate the spoken parts of sentences and words. Examples include being able to identify words that rhyme, recognizing alliteration, segmenting a sentence into words, identifying the syllables in a word, and blending and segmenting onset-rimes (Reading Rockets – The Center for Effective Reading Instruction).

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