From Unit Plan: Teach Skills With Nursery Rhymes!

The books listed here are rich in both language and plot. These authors have taken beloved nursery rhymes and given the characters a fresh voice full of emotion. I have arranged the books in the order I introduce them to the students. We use this same order for the unit culmination activity performance.

I've also included additional resources useful for teaching this unit.

Nursery Rhyme Books

Humpty Dumpty
by Daniel Kirk

This extremely creative take on perhaps the most well-known nursery rhyme character of all time, Humpty Dumpty, is a must read!

Classroom Tip: Use this book when making the story flipbook described in Lesson 3. (It is also a valuable resource to introduce the concept of feelings.)

Little Miss Muffet's Count-Along Surprise
by Emma Chichester Clark

This inventive version of Little Miss Muffet offers delightful surprises — and plenty of new rhymes — for all readers.

Classroom Tip: First I recite the traditional version of "Little Miss Muffet," and then we role-play the nursery rhyme. Once the students can recite the traditional version, I surprise them with these new stanzas by Clark.

Over the Moon
by Rachel Vail

A hysterical version of "Hey Diddle Diddle." The characters are attempting to put on a stage production of "Hey Diddle Diddle," but fiasco-level chaos erupts. It is a wonderful way to introduce the theater process to the students.

Classroom Tip: Use this story as a read-aloud when you are ready to start rehearsing the show. Discuss what happens when we do not work together as a group.

And the Dish Ran Away With the Spoon
by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel

The characters from "Hey Diddle Diddle" search high and low for the Dish and the Spoon. They travel through other nursery rhymes, asking nursery rhyme characters if they've seen them. It's a fun read with a creative ending.

Classroom Tip: Use this book with Over the Moon to do a Venn diagram comparing and contrasting the two stories. It's also good for illustrating how writers can create a new ending for an old story.

Jack and Jill
by Daniel Kirk

Mr. Kirk has done it again! Our beloved Jack and Jill show new depth and humor in this student favorite.

Classroom Tip: Since Jack and Jill make a pair, I also use the story to demonstrate what a pair is. Then I introduce a community-building strategy called "Think-Pair-Share." The students are to think about what they are going to say when asked about a topic. Then the students get into pairs and share what they are thinking.

Rub a Dub Dub
by Kin Eagle

Mr. Eagle takes a simple concept and spins a cheerful and innovative yarn.

Classroom Tip: Rub a Dub Dub is a terrific story to use when introducing the concept of community workers. After we read the book, I invite people from the community to come in as guest speakers to talk about what they do.

Mary Had a Little Lamb
by Sarah Joseph Hale

A fun change of pace: instead of illustrations, this book features beautiful photographs of Mary and her lamb.

Classroom Tip: I read this story to the students, and then we do our own adaptation of the story, made with pictures of the students acting out the nursery rhyme. It's a class library favorite.

Other Useful Resources

The Fairytale Cake
by Mark Sperring

All our favorite nursery rhyme characters come together to bake a magical cake.

Classroom Tip: The students discuss who their favorite nursery rhyme character is and why. I integrate this story by teaching the students how to make a cake. I write and draw pictures to go along with each step.

Orchard's Little Green Book of Nursery Rhymes
illustrated by Nila Aye

This is a beautifully illustrated collection of traditional nursery rhymes.

Classroom Tip: I read one of the nursery rhymes a day as a way to end our session together. The collection leaves the students with a strong and vivid image of each nursery rhyme.

Inch by Inch
by Leo Lionni

An inchworm gets out of some sticky situations by using his measuring talents.

Classroom Tip: Read this during Lesson 2 as a way to revisit the concept of measurement.

Scholastic Interactive Pocket Charts: Nursery Rhymes: The Hands-On Way to Build Reading Skills!
Scholastic Inc.

A colorful, pre-made pocket chart with all your favorite nursery rhymes ready to use.

Classroom Tip: The students interact with the pocket chart by matching a picture with the sentence that it represents. The pocket chart is terrific for all literacy skills.

Nursery Rhyme Flip Chart
by Deborah Schecter

Beautifully illustrated nursery rhyme charts.

Classroom Tip: Have your students follow along on the flip chart as you teach them each new nursery rhyme.

Hickory Dickory Math: Teaching Math With Nursery Rhymes and Fairy Tales
by Cecilia Dinio-Durkin

An integration of familiar nursery rhymes and mathematical concepts.

Classroom Tip: Use "The Old Woman in the Shoe" for estimating and counting. I use "Hickory Dickory Math" for telling time. Use the "Humpty Dumpty" tangrams when you are teaching "Humpty Dumpty." Use "Baa Baa Black Sheep" for counting and number combinations.

Teaching Tunes Audio CD and Mini-Book Set
by Dr. Jean Feldman

An enchanting CD for teaching favorite nursery rhymes and reinforcing literacy skills.

Classroom Tip: To reinforce what students have learned, play the CD while they are engaged in independent work.

15 Easy-to-Read Nursery Rhyme Mini-Book Plays
by Nancy I. Sanders

A fun way to promote emergent literacy skills.

Classroom Tip: Ideas across the curriculum abound in this book: Use Hey Diddle Diddle to promote reading skills by creating a class newspaper in which students print their nursery rhyme reviews. Use the Humpty Dumpty page to reinforce word families.