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A Child's Treasury of Nursery Rhymes
A Child's Treasury
of Nursery Rhymes

The Uses of Enchantment: Meaning & Importance of Fairy Tales by Bruno Bettelheim
The Uses
of Enchantment:
Meaning & Importance
of Fairy Tales
by Bruno Bettelheim

Guided Reading
Guided Reading:
Good First Teaching
All Children

Content Area Reading
Content Area Reading: Literacy and Learning Across the Curriculum

How to Get Your Child to Love Reading
How to Get Your Child
to Love Reading

Teacher's Best - The Creative Process

Nursery Rhymes Posters
for nurseries, classrooms and children's rooms.

literature posters > NURSERY RHYMES < children

Nursery rhymes posters of familiar traditional songs or poems can be used to help teach young children skills such as counting, or associating a sound with an animal or occupation. Nursery rhymes may also have been a way to pass opinions around without arousing the ‘powers that be’ to take action against you.

Hey Diddle Diddle Giclee Print
Hey Diddle Diddle
Giclee Print

Hey diddle diddle, / The cat played the fiddle, / The cow jumped over the moon. / The little dog laughed to see such sport, / And the dish ran away with the spoon.

‘Hey diddle diddle’ could refer to a scandal with Queen Elizabeth I and the Earl of Leicester who she called her “lap dog”, or it could be a mnemonic to remind an agricultural society that it was time to plant crops: only in the month of April are the constellations Leo (cat), Taurus (cattle) and Lyre (fiddle) are visible in the night sky, along with Crater (dish) and the Ursa Major - Big Dipper (spoon). Look at other possible origins.

Jack and Jill, c. 1885, Giclee Print, Walter Crane
Jack and Jill, c. 1885, Giclee Print

Walter Crane

Jack and Jill went up the hill / To fetch a pail of water. / Jack fell down and broke his crown / and Jill came tumbling after.

One possible origin of Jack & Jill - King Charles I of England was attempting a new tax on liquid measurement (transformed into water for the nursery). A “Jack” is a 1/2 pint, a “Jill” is gill or 1/4 pint; Parliment blocked the tax increase (broke Charles I's crown), but then decreed a “jack” would be less volume, so “jill” came “tumbling after.”

Man in the Moon Art Print
Man in the Moon
Art Print

The Man in the Moon came tumbling down, / And asked his way to Norwich; / He went by the south, and burnt his mouth, / With supping cold pease-porridge.

Goosey, Goosey Gander Art Print
Goosey, Goosey Gander
Art Print

Goosey goosey gander, / Whither shall I wander? / Upstairs and downstairs / And in my lady's chamber. / There I met an old man / Who wouldn't say his prayers, / So I took him by his left leg / And threw him down the stairs.

The first line refers to the “goose stepping” Roundhead troops of Oliver Cromwell who invaded homes to arrest anyone who didn't accept their Puritan beliefs. Apparently you could pass this message on by the appearance of it being a harmless diddy for children.

Cock-a-Doodle Doo, Giclee Print
Cock-a-Doodle Doo, Giclee Print

Cock-a-Doodle Doo, / My dame has lost her shoe, / My master's lost his fiddlestick, / And knows not what to do.

Someone must have been dancing late into the night?!?

Old King Cole Art Print
Old King Cole
Art Print

Old King Cole was a merry old soul / And a merry old soul was he; / He called for his pipe, and he called for his bowl / And he called for his fiddlers three. / Every fiddler he had a fiddle, / And a very fine fiddle had he; / Oh there's none so rare, as can compare / With King Cole and his fiddlers three.

Old King Cole may refer to a lengendary king of Britian during the Celtic period, see Colchester.

There Was an Old Woman Art Print
There Was an
Old Woman
Art Print

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe. / She had so many children, she didn't know what to do; / She gave them some broth without any bread; / Then whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.

King George, who instigated the fashion of wearing a white wig, was the old woman. As the parental figure, he had to whip Parliment into submission. (see Wikipedia)

Kate Greenaway - Mary Mary Quite Contrary How Does Your Garden Grow?, Giclee Print
Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary, How Does Your Garden Grow?,
Giclee Print

Kate Greenway

Mary, Mary, quite contrary, / How does your garden grow? / With silver bells, and cockle shells, / And pretty maids all in a row.

The contrary Mary may be reference to the barren Mary I, Queen of Scots, or her contemporary Mary I of England, (Bloody Mary), both who worked to restore Catholicism (the silver bells) to England. The cockle shells could be an illusion to instruments of torture, the pretty maids to ladies in waiting. - But then the nursery rhyme was first published in the 18th century and both Marys were from the 16th century.

Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater Art Print
Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater
Art Print

Peter, Peter pumpkin eater, / Had a wife but couldn't keep her; / He put her in a pumpkin shell / And there he kept her very well.

A spouse abuser?? -

Row, Row, Row Your Boat Art Print
Row, Row, Row
Your Boat
Art Print

Row, Row, Row Your Boat / Gently down the stream, / Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, / Life is but a dream.

Row, Row, Row Your Boat is an example of a round- two or more voices singing the same melody and beginning at different times.

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Art Print
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,
Nursery Rhymes Laminated Poster

Twinkle, twinkle, little star, / How I wonder what you are! / Up above the world so high, / Like a diamond in the sky!

The lyrics are based on an English poem by Jane Taylor and sung to a French melody from 1761. Mozart wrote 12 variations of the tune, and Saint Saen's The Carnival of the Animals was inspired by the music.

Colchester, England claims to be the residence of Jane Taylor when she wrote the rhyme.

Ba, Ba, Black Sheep, Art Print
Ba, Ba, Black Sheep,
Art Print

Bah, Bah black Sheep, / Have you any Wool? / Yes sir, yes sir, / Three Bags full, / One for the master, / One for the Dame, / And one for the little Boy / Who lives down the lane.

Baa Baa Black Sheep, probably dating from the Middle Ages, is referring to a wool tax: one-third for the local aristocrat (master), one-third for the mother church (dame) and one-third for the farmer (little boy).

Little Bo-Peep Has Lost Her Sheep an Didn't Know Where to Find Them, Giclee Print
Little Bo-Peep,
Giclee Print

Little Bo-Peep has lost her sheep, / And can't tell where to find them; / Leave them alone, / And they'll come home, / Wagging their tails behind them.

Little Bo-Peep is claimed by the people of Sussex as really a story about smugglers rather than a shephardess who has lost her sheep. The “sheep and their tails” are the smugglers and their loot, who are being sought by the customs officers.

Little Boy Blue, Giclee Print
Little Boy Blue,
Giclee Print

Little Boy Blue, / Come blow your horn, / The sheep's in the meadow, / The cow's in the corn; / Where is that boy / Who looks after the sheep? / Under the haystack / Fast asleep. / Will you wake him? / Oh no, not I, / For if I do / He will surely cry.

Little Boy Blue was first recorded in 1744 but is probably much older. In King Lear, Shakespeare wrote “Sleepest or wakest thou, jolly shepheard?/Thy sheepe be in the corne;/And for one blast of thy minikin mouth/Thy sheepe shall take no harme.”

Humpty Dumpty Sat on a Wall, Art Print
Humpty Dumpty
Art Print

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall / Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. / All the king's horses, / And all the king's men, / Couldn't put Humpty together again.

A ‘humpty dumpty’ started out as a drink of brandy and boiled ale which might explain how an anthromorphized egg that couldn't stay upright, came into being. Humpty-Dumpty was also a nickname given to the very large Royalist sharpshooter who sat in the belfry of the church of St Mary-at-the-Walls during the Seige of Colchester in the English Civil War.

Phrases from Humpty Dumpty have also entered popular Western culture - such as All the King's Men as a novel and movie title; Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward also played on the phrase with All the President's Men for the Nixon Watergate scandal.

Little Miss Muffet Giclee Print
Little Miss Muffet
Giclee Print

Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet, / Eating her curds and whey; / There came a big spider which sat down beside her, / and frightened Miss Muffet away.

First appearing in print in 1805, in Songs for the Nursery, the origins of ‘Little Miss Muffet’ are unclear. One conjecture is that the entomologist, Dr. Thomas Muffet, wrote the poem for his stepdaughters.

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last updated 12/21/13