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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mother Goose Rhymes


Do you know what a "nursery rhyme" is? Do you know any nursery rhymes, in English or your own language?


Not too many years ago, most English-speaking children grew up learning simple poems called "Mother Goose nursery rhymes." They have been around for more than 300 years, and are often learned by listening to an adult saying them. When I was a boy, I learned many of them by heart.

Here are the titles of 20 of the most famous nursery rhymes. See how many you know:
a. Hey Diddle Diddle
b. Hickory, Dickory, Dock
c. Humpty Dumpty
d. Jack and Jill
e. Jack Sprat
f. Jack, Be Nimble
g. Little Bo-Peep
h. Little Boy Blue
i. Little Jack Horner
j. Little Miss Muffet
k. Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary
l. Old King Cole
m. Old Mother Hubbard
n. Peter Piper
o. Rock-a-Bye, Baby
p. Sing a Song of Sixpence
q. There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe
r. This Little Piggy Went to Market
s. Three Blind Mice
t. Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star


Some of these rhymes have melodies, and can be sung. Others have actions; when we say "This Little Piggy Went to Market," we wiggle the child's toes one-by-one for each line (big toe first):
This little piggy went to market;
This little piggy stayed at home;
This little piggy had roast beef;
And this little pig had none;
This little piggy said, "Wee, wee, wee!" all the way home!


Which rhyme did these expressions come from? If you're not sure, at least try to guess. Or, better, look at the rhymes here:
1. All the king's horses and all the king's men
2. Jack fell down and broke his crown
3. Along came a spider
4. The cupboard was bare
5. She had so many children, she didn't know what to do
6. See how they run!
7. Like a diamond in the sky
8. When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall
9. What a good boy am I!
10. His wife could eat no lean


Learn some nursery rhymes by heart. They can make learning English easy and fun for adults and children! This page has links to many of the rhymes, including some pictures:


1. c Humpty Dumpty; 2. d Jack and Jill; 3. j Little Miss Muffet; 4. m Old Mother Hubbard; 5. q There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe; 6. s Three Blind Mice; 7. t Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star; 8. o Rock-a-Bye, Baby; 9. i Little Jack Horner; 10. e Jack Sprat

This lesson is ©2011 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use."

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