Nursery rhymes, well said, effortlessly give children the structure of the English language.
First, introduce nursery rhymes through the age-old tradition of the rhythmic chant, carefully articulating and modeling the rhythm and sounds of the language. Nursery rhymes, well said, effortlessly give children the structure of the English language. To provide children the practice needed for fluency, without creating boredom through too much repetition, we invite children to explore different voices while reciting a rhyme — both in volume and emotional tone. Children learn that their voice can be used to create and enhance meaning, develop moods and convey images.
Present a dramatic interpretation of 1, 2 Buckle My Shoe to capture the children’s imagination. Invite the children to join in and echo, line by line, maintaining the strong rhythmic flow. When they have a memorable sense of the entire rhyme, explore different voices: “If you were a giant — what kind of a voice would you have? How would you sound?” (We might remember the giant’s chant “Fee Fi Fo Fum…”) “What if you were a little elf?” Another day recite the rhyme with a happy voice and then a sad voice. Let the children experience extremes in volume and emotions and discover power and delight in speaking dramatically. They may all become orators! Explore many ways to express language:
- How would you recite Jack and Jill if you were mice? Recite it quickly; in slow motion.
- If we changed the “crooked man” to a “scared man”, what would his voice sound like as he recited the rhyme?
- Conduct the language concert using musical terminology: forte, pianissimo, staccato, crescendo, decrescendo…
- Children have come up with many different voices to try:
Teeny Tiny, Munchkins, Underwater, Baby, Opera, Whispery, Telephone Operator…
Discover “No Voice at All”
Children’s favorite voice — and a wonderful technique to bring the energy down and help children focus — is “no voice at all”. When we invite the children to use “no voice at all”, we speak in a very soft, whispery, mysterious voice. All eyes are on the teacher as the children in unison mouth the words and mime the actions 1,2 Buckle My Shoe but with no sounds coming out. They hear the words and feel the rhythm of the language internally.