Ten Reasons to Sing Nursery Rhymes; why you should be using them with your little one

Feb, 2019 | Baby Signing, Communication, Early Years, Parenting, Signing | 0 comments

Wind the bobbin up, wind the bobbin up…

Sometimes it feels that if you should ‘Wind the Bobbin Up’ one more time you might just pop!  But traditional nursery rhymes have a really important place in the hearts of our little ones – and rightly so, it turns out.

Having taught little ones for over twenty years, I sometimes feel the need to justify what we are doing in the classroom; to the outside world it looks like we are ‘just having fun’.

Comments such as ‘what’s it like, playing all day?’ or ‘Oh, you’re singing nursery rhymes again!’ show that there is still a need to explain all of the wonderful things that babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers are learning while they are ‘just playing’.

So why are nursery rhymes so important?

Research has found that when a child knows eight or more nursery rhymes by heart, at the age of 4, that they are usually one of the best at reading and spelling in their class by the age of 8! 


‘..the first sounds made by a human baby more closely resemble music than speech. A toddler will sing before he (she) speaks. He hears music before he recognises words.’ 
Ruth Leon | The Sound of Musicals

What do children learn from nursery rhymes?

1. Nursery rhymes are easy to repeat so become part of your child’s first sentences.

When we sing or say nursery rhymes we tend to speak more slowly and clearly so children learn how the words are formed. This is great, because it makes it easier little ones to join in.

2. Nursery rhymes help children practice pitch, volume and the rhythm of language.

Music and rhymes help little ones learn a steady beat which helps with language and reading development. Joining in with clapping and actions, like baby signing, can help this development.

3. Nursery rhymes are a great way to develop early phonic skills.

Through hearing and repeating nursery rhymes children have the opportunity to hear, identify and manipulate letter sounds.

4. Nursery rhymes expand children’s imagination.

Nursery Rhymes often tell a story and create imagery. Children can imagine a world where vinegar and brown paper are a remedy for a head injury! 

5. Nursery rhymes follow a clear sequence of events.

They often tell a story and contain a beginning, middle, and end.

“Exposure to music accelerates the brain development of young children in the areas responsible for language development, sound, reading skill and speech perception”

Brain and Creativity Institute

6. Nursery rhymes teach early maths skills.

Many contain numbers, counting, colours, and other maths vocabulary such as weight and size.

7. Nursery rhymes improve vocabulary.

Children hear and use new words that they wouldn’t come across in everyday language, for example, in Jack and Jill they ‘fetch’ a ‘pail’ of water.

8. Nursery rhymes provide examples of literacy devices.

They use alliteration such as ‘Goosey, Goosey Gander’, onomatopoeia in ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’, and rhyme.

9. Nursery rhymes teach emotions.

The characters in the rhymes experience a range of emotions, which can help little ones to understand and identify their own emotions and those of others.

10. Nursery rhymes are fun! And transportable!

Nursery rhymes are great way to spend time with your little one and they don’t require any equipment. 

Little ones love the sound of your voice over any other (they’re not bothered if you’re not a great singer).

Often nursery rhymes are funny – some make little sense, others have unexpected endings.  And if you forget the words or are feeling creative you can make up some of your own versions!

Nursery Rhymes and Baby Signing 

Using gestures, alongside nursery rhymes, helps little ones (and you!) remember what comes next and allows everyone to join in capably.  The sign gives the cue for the word – or in the case of a round of Old MacDonald, time to join in with the animal sounds.  

Regardless, you can be sure that signing along to traditional nursery rhymes will be one of the very best things you can do to support your baby, toddler or pre-schooler.

Not only will you give them a head start with their literacy, language and communication development but you’ll be giving their fine and gross motor skills a workout too – all through activities that are fun for everyone, filling a very special place in your little one’s heart. 



Leader | Little Signers Club East Yorkshire

Sally offers Little Signers Club Baby Signing classes Beverly, Hull and Pocklington as well as to private organisations and networks across East Yorkshire. Little Signers Club uses British Sign Language to aid children from 3 months to 5 years with to communicate more effectively with their important grown ups.  Classes are fun, friendly and fully inclusive.  Say Hello!

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