Charlie, our dog, is amazing. Someone once said that his gift to the world is his unflappable calm, and it is. Even in his younger days, you would never find Charlie jumping, licking, or wildly tail-wagging. That’s just not the kind of dog he is. Charlie is more of a lie down, watch with soft, knowing eyes, and spread a gentle peace kind of a furry old man. He has eased a nervous cat on a long car ride, cuddled a crying child to sleep who desperately missed his mommy, offered himself up for pets to divert outsiders from giving attention to the new baby in the house, and stopped thousands of strangers on the street who just want to touch his quiet calm. Now, Charlie’s not all perfect. He’s opened doors, fit through openings a quarter of his size, and performed other magic tricks to get to food or to keep from being alone. So, no he’s not perfect, but he IS amazing.
Based on his gifts, Charlie’s been a therapy dog for about five years now. He’s always been great, but he truly found his calling this spring when he and I started as the first therapy dog team in our local school district. We go just twice a week for about an hour, and the children rotate turns so each child may end up reading just 10-15 minutes each week. In that time, in addition to their regular studies, the children participating in the program have remarkably raised their lexile scores (some going from not passing to passing the 2nd grade). I could not be more proud or excited to take part in such a special program.
But, on a recent visit as a child shared a hilarious book that made a play on classic nursery rhymes, I realized something – the boy had no clue about nursery rhymes and could not recite one. After a few more kids during that day’s visit, I realized MANY kids have no clue about nursery rhymes. Really?! My daughter has certainly loved learning them and seems to entertain herself in any quiet moments with the fun sounds on her tongue and the familiar rhythms.
And what about classic tales, like The Boy Who Cried Wolf? Nope. The kids in the reading program don’t know those either. But EVERY child should be able to experience the joy from these things that are eternally sacred to childhood. Especially because nursery rhymes and classic tales aren’t just fun, they are important. They teach our children so much.
Amanda at Not Just Cute explains all of this so well in her post, “The Best Books Are Ageless.” The value of classic children’s literature is endless, but primarily it establishes memories, creates something familiar from childhood, teaches rhyming, encourages playing with words and sounds to develop phonological awareness, and increases vocabulary.
So, let’s teach EVERY child these classics. AND even though they are enough by themselves, sometimes you may want to freshen them up and bring them into the now. Classics gone funky fresh are great, because they…
- Repeat familiar concepts over and over and FILL THOSE PAGES.
- Teach children flexibility and creativity.
- Keep it exciting for older kids who may already know these tales well.
- Help kids find the funny.
AND here’s how you can you funky it up:
- Start by teaching your kids nursery rhymes. Draw pictures with the characters, sing the songs, and act out the storylines to help your child understand them.
- Then read books like these that make fun out of the classics: The Jolly Postman, Humpty Dumpty Climbs Again, and The Wolf Who Cried Boy.
- Have your child tell her own alternative tale by changing the ending or mixing up characters from different rhymes.
The posts below help you bring these funky ideas to life. Check them out…
- Mommy & Me Book Club walks you through a slew of multi-sensory activities for Three Little Kittens and The Three Little Pigs.
- Toddler Approved gives you great activities for their five favorite nursery rhymes.
- Make, Do & Friend shows you how to make great props for nursery rhymes out of everyday objects.
- Rainy Day Mum gives a yummy and kid-friendly recipe to go along with The Queen of Hearts.
- NurtureStore shares a simple and fun Itsy Bitsy (or Insy Winsy) spider craft.
- Creative Family Fun makes a fun movement activity for Jack Be Nimble.
- Crafty Moms Share demonstrates beautiful and simple nursery rhyme art to display in a bedroom or playroom.
What favorite nursery rhyme or classic tale you’ve enjoyed sharing with your child? Do you have any funky fresh ideas?