We all have non-chalantly repeated the classic nursery rhyme all through our childhood. And likely now our kids have them all on autoplay on YouTube on their personal iPads. But did you know that most of these are over 200 years old and have such dark history, you would be shocked! Like the “Mary Mary, quite contrary” is not about gardening but rather about the reign and torture of Bloody Mary and the innocent and frolic “Ring around the rosy” is about the London Plague of 1665!*
Even if you don’t go back and check on the history, some of the rhymes are plain atrocious. Take for example the case of Humpty Dumpty. He falls so bad that nobody can fix him. He died or what? I would rather he gets up like a brave boy and goes on his way. Would be a much more positive thing to tell little minds. The Humpty Dumpty Fall Scale is used in hospitals to assess patients and assign a score to their risk of falling. I believe it should remain in the Emergency Room and better not in the Class Room.
Or consider “Rock a bye baby” Nobody should be leaving cradle with babies on tree tops. It was okay until the wind blew and cradle rocked. ‘Down comes the baby cradle and all’ I mean what?! That’s a nightmare for god’s sake! I sincerely hope the baby was unhurt.
And I thought “Jack and Jill” was pretty innocent until I recently realized, jack broke his ‘crown’ means his head, yes your right.. (head! He didn’t wear a crown to go fetch a pail of water so steep uphill…) And yes, I don’t think Jill’s tumbling descent was fun either.
Some if not violent are downright silly and senseless. “Pease porridge” hot or cold, you say nine days old? Its not safe for human consumption.( Look carefully there will be mold on it.)
“Monkeys jumping on the bed” doesn’t the mama monkey understand the doctor’s advise.. no more jumping on the bed or is she so careless to allow ten of them to fall down one after another?
What would you rather teach children then? At least at home, I decided to stay away from these rhymes, especially those that are obviously inappropriate. We instead enjoy delightful positive action rhymes, finger plays and lap rhymes like some listed below – also classics, and so well loved by both my toddler and the preschooler. We are also incorporating Islamic poems that are fun, educational and make for simple rhymes while teaching a lot of basic principles. (Links below)
I know its so convenient to just play the rhymes on YouTube.However, it’s highly encouraged that you use finger plays and lap rhymes because the best playmate they can have is you. so sing and enact with your kids to give them an all round experience including verbal and physical exercise.
Our Favourite Action Rhymes:
I’m a little teapot
If you’r happy and you know
Row, row your boat
Head, shoulders, knees and toes
Our Favourite Finger plays:
Fe Fi Fo Fum
My Hands say thank you
This little piggy
Our Favourite Lap Rhymes:
This is how a gentleman rides
Rickety, Rickety Rocking Horse
Diddle Diddle Dumpling.
Our Favourite Islamic Poems for kids:
Let us know your favourites in the comments below!