Poetry Tuesday

Poetry Activity: Write Your Own Nursery Rhymes!

Interested in poetry?
Combine rhyme and meter using this activity for kids, adults, and everyone in-between.

nursery rhymes

A. Introduction: Nursery Rhymes
Can you finish this phrase?

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great—

Did you get it??
Okay, now how about this one?

Jack be nimble, Jack be quick,
Jack jump over the candle—

And this one?

Little Boy Blue, come blow your horn,
The cow’s in the meadow, the sheep in the—

How did you do?
If you grew up with nursery rhymes, you probably could have filled in all those missing words in your sleep, and even recited the rest of the rhyme. If you grew up speaking English, chances are, you knew at least one of those nursery rhymes.

You also probably knew that nursery rhymes were made for children. But have you ever stopped to think about why they are so easy to remember?

Any guesses?
(Drumroll please…)

They rhyme! (Probably why they’re called nursery rhymes.) Take the first example…

Jack be nimble, Jack be quick,
Jack jump over the candlestick.

They also have a simple meter:

Jack be nimble, Jack be quick,
Jack jump over the candle stick.

(Not quite sure you understand? Look at these past lessons: rhyme, meter)

B. Write your own nursery rhyme!
Let’s use some classic nursery rhymes and change them slightly to make them into new poems! During this activity, watch for the rhyming words and the meter!

  1. Read the poem
  2. Fill in the blanks to change the meaning and make it as silly (or serious) as you like
  3. Make sure you keep the beat (stresses) the same as the original poem or may end up sounding a bit funny!

Hey Diddle Diddle, the cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon.
The little dog laughed to see such a sight
And the dish ran away with the spoon!

Fill in the blanks to write your own poem!
Hey Diddle Diddle, the _______ and the fiddle
The __________ jumped over the moon
The little __________ laughed to see such a sight
And the __________ ran away with the spoon

Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockle shells, and little maids all in a row.

Fill in the blanks to write your own poem!
________ _________
, quite contrary, how does your ________ grow?
With silver ________ and
_________  ________, and little _________ all in a row.

Pleased with your poem? Share it in the comments or post it on my Facebook page so we can all read and enjoy them!

C. Extra Challenge: A Nursery Rhyme From Scratch
To write a nursery rhyme, come up with either:
1. A lesson to teach children (aka, How to Count, or Why Kids should Eat Their Veggies) or
2. A simplified story from history  (aka, The Noble Duke of York)

See if you can come up with four lines of the poem, where the first two lines rhyme and the second two rhyme. See what you can create, and don’t forget to share!

Hungry for more? Check out this week’s…

Poem Study: My Shadow, by Robert Louis Stevenson

Advanced Poetry Lesson: Odes (Week 1 of 2)


3 thoughts on “Poetry Activity: Write Your Own Nursery Rhymes!”

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