Nursery Rhyme Activities

Are you looking for a teaching topic that you can dip in and out of? 

A topic that opens up a whole world of lively activities for your class and gives an overview of the origins of some of the rhymes.

A Nursery Rhyme Activities theme is just what you need!

Find out about the gruesome stories behind these seemingly innocent rhymes by purchasing Nursery Rhymes Revealed!!

For example in the rhyme 'Sing a son of sixpence' it recounts 4 and 20 blackbirds baked in a pie.

In the 16th century it was believed that in wealthy households live birds would be put into the pie to surprise and entertain the guests! How they survived the heat of the oven remains a mystery!

Nursery Rhymes Revealed

Are you teaching nursery rhymes? 

Find out the fascinating British history behind the rhymes. This ebook reveals the historic facts behind ten common nursery rhymes including Baa Baa Black Sheep and Humpty Dumpty. 

Use for your own background interest or as a starter to British history projects for older children. Covers Tudor and Medieval historical periods.

Find out more

You'll find literacy tasks as well as maths, science ,art and many more.

So lets get going with our Nursery Rhyme Activities theme!

Incy Wincy Spider

Incy Wincy Spider, climbing up the spout.

Down came the rain and washed poor spider out!

Out came the sunshine and dried up all the rain

So Incy Wincy Spider climbed up the spout again.

Circle Time Nursery Rhyme Activities

  Below are some nursery rhyme activities you can introduce to your students during circle time or at any time during the session where you need to while away a few moments! 

  1. Start by learning to say the rhyme all together. 
  2. Then whisper it quietly or shout it loudly
  3. Change the words from Incy Wincy Spider into Big Enormous Spider and say the poem again slowly!
  4. Talk to the children about different kinds of spiders. Who likes spiders and who doesn't and why?
  5. Read a spider book such as The Very Busy Spider and get the children to predict what is going to happen next.
  6. Play the Spider Web game [ see Halloween Activities for kids. Woolly Spider's Web ]
  7. Experiment with cotton wool balls. Say to the children that they are holding a cloud in their hand .What does it feel like? Is it heavy or light?  Is it soft or scratchy? Then soak it in water, like a rain cloud, How does it feel now? Squeeze it gently and ask what is happening now? Yes it's raining! Talk about the rain cycle with the children introducing the word evaporation.

Literacy Activities 

  • Make an Acrostic poem with the kids using the word SPIDER
  • Make a little 'S' booklet with all the words they can think of starting with 'S'
  • Make a Spider's menu!    What would a spider like for his supper?Children think of some juicy morsels then write out a menu for him to choose from They can decorate it afterwards
  • Read the fab story of Max and his Spider Sandwich by Claire Freedman [click on highlighted text to purchase book from Amazon]
  • Help the children learn to follow instructions by making a Spider Sandwich  from the book Max's Monster Cookbook also by Claire Freedman. 
  • One of the children's favourite Nursery Rhyme Activities was to make an Incy Wincy bulletin board as a class. It led to loads of discussion about colour and shape. Our spider could be moved up and down the 'spout' too!

Maths and Science Activities

  1. Water play: In the water tray in the classroom give the kids a piece of pipe or guttering and some plastic spiders. They can then act out the rhyme making incy wincy climb up the pipe and washing him down with water! What fun!
  2. Spider Legs:  Make the body of a spider out of black paper. Give the kids a pile of pegs and ask them to put 8 legs on the spider. You can make this into a number addition exercise by asking them to see how many different ways they can attach the 8 pegs to the spiders body. For instance 3 on one side and 5 on the other or 2 on one side and 6 on the other.You could do this in circle time, putting 1 peg on one side of his body then asking them how many are left.
  3. 'Out came the sun and dried up all the rain' Talk to the children about evaporation. Put a measured amount of water in a shallow container and leave it for a few days in a warm place. Ask the children what they think has happened to all the water. Where does it go? Where does all our water come from? 
  4. Can they think of any countries that don't have enough water ? How do they manage? Read a story about a country very difierent from their own that has little water. Handa's Surprise' is a lovely book with lots of talking points for the children to discuss and some maths opportunities too for your Nursery Rhyme Activities.

Art Opportunities

The following art ideas  for the nursery rhyme activities theme are ones that I used while putting together the bulletin board.

Splatter painting rain drops:

You don't need to cut the shapes of the rain drops out until later.

So just lay a big sheet of white or grey paper out on the table and let the kids loose with a paint brush and black and white paint. They can splatter the paint to their hearts content!

When the paper is covered, allow it to dry and then cut out different size rain drop shapes ready for your bulletin board.

Rain Clouds:

I did cut some cloud shapes for this activity, then allowed the kids to stick cotton wool buds all over them.

Once done, I got them to paint the cotton wool in black or grey ready to mount on the wall display.

Incy Spiders:

There are loads of ways of making an easy super scary spider for your bulletin board. You just have to look on u tube!

The one I chose was one using pipe cleaners as they are easy to cut and shape.

So, taking 4 black pipe cleaners, line them up so all the ends are level. Then, carefully fold them in half but keep your finger in the fold. With your finger still in the fold ,twist the eight legs round at least twice, close to your finger. Now you have a body and 8 legs. All you have to do now is to arrange the legs to look like an Incy Wincy Spider and pop him on your board!

If the kids want to make one of their own they can of course!

The Sun:

We had good fun doing this as a group activity.

We started by collecting and cutting out little pieces of yellow paper all different shades and textures.This was a great opportunity to encourage them to tell you what each shade of yellow reminded them of.

We also used this activity to talk about sun safety and emphasise that they should never look at the sun even with sunglasses on.

Once we had got enough bits together we made a sun collage sometimes sticking more than one layer on the sun shape to give it more depth of colour.

I then got them to cut out some sun rays out of the left over paper and stuck them all round the edge of the sun shape to finish it off. 

Bingo! A sun for nursery rhyme activities board!

Hope you've had some fun doing these nursery thyme activities with your children.Have a peep at some more insect activities on my insect activities page.

Jack and Jill went up the Hill

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

Up Jack got and home did trot 

As fast as he could caper

Went to bed to mend his head 

With vinegar and brown paper.


Here are some literacy ideas for your nursery rhyme activities theme.

1. Change the words of some of the lines and see if the kids can make them rhyme.     

For example: Jack and Jill went down the road

                      To see what they could see

                     Jack saw a cat that sat on a mat

                     And Jill jumped up and down with glea!

  I'm sure your kids could do better!

2. Get the kids to draw the story in a little zig-zag book. Emergent writers can write a line of text to go under each picture.

3. How many more names can you think of beginning with J

4. Ask the kids questions about the rhyme. It's easy to assume that they understand whats being said but often they are just enjoying the sounds rather than making sense of the story!

5. The second verse says:

'He went to bed to mend his head with vinegar and brown paper'

Have any of the children had this done when they bumped their head?   What usually happens? 

You can tell them that a long time ago people used to believe that vinegar helped cure bruising. The brown paper was instead of a bandage!

6. Two children could 'Hot seat' while the rest of the class could be reporters and ask Jack and Jill questions.

Maths and Science 

There are lots of water activities you can do with the kids while exploring nursery rhyme activities particularly with Jack and Jill .

Some of these ideas are on my snow theme page. For example making giant ice balls and watching them melt is a real fun thing to do.

 1.  Have some pails ready in the water tray together with some plastic cups [all the same size]

The children see how many cupfuls it takes to fill the pail with water. If they're not competent at counting get a friend to count on their fingers for them.

 2.  Provide a tray of objects next to the water tray and let the kids experiment with them.

They could make 2 sets. One with the things that float and one with the things that sink.

 3.  Put some washing up liquid into the water tray  and give the kids some big straws.

 Let them see what happens when they blow into the water!

[stress the blowing!]

 [You might have to add a mop and bucket to your list of provisions!]

Old Mother Hubbard

Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard

To get her poor Doggie a bone

But when she got there the cupboard was bare

And so her poor Doggie had none.

She went to the bakers to buy him some bread

And when she came back he was standing on his head

She went to the hatters to buy him a hat

And when she got back he was feeding the cat!

She went to the tailors to buy him a coat

And when she got back he was riding a goat!

The Dame made a curtsy,

The dog made a bow

The Dame said 'Your servant'

The dog said 'Bow wow!

Literacy ideas for Old Mother Hubbard

1  Think of some more rhyming verses for the story.

2  Talk about dog food with the children. 

 What do their dogs like to eat?

Can they think of a good name for a brand new dog food and describe what it's made from?

3  Play musical hats with the kids. Have a pile of different hats in the middle of the circle.When the music stops every child grabs a hat. Those without a hat are out! Take one or two hats away each time.

4  Provide an outline of a cupboard for the kids to draw or find pictures of food that the old lady might like in her cupboard. They could also discuss why they think that the old woman's cupboard is so bare. Did the dog raid it perhaps!?

I hope you can make use of these nursery rhyme activities ideas for literacy and go on to enjoy more nursery rhymes with your class.

Maths ideas for your nursery rhyme activities theme

1  Make a shop in your classroom and put some scales in there for the kids to have a go at weighing things.

2  Have a go at making some bread. You can cheat by buying a bread kit. Then you only have to add water! 

3  Give the kids some balls of wool and some scissors Allow them to cut lots of lengths of wool, tie them together in the middle and hey presto they have their own wig! Good activity for your nursery rhyme activities theme and good opportunity to practice cutting and measuring!

Circle Time

These are some nursery rhyme activities you can do at any time of the day when you find you have a few minutes to spare.

1  Put some jiggy music on and let the children dance a jig!

2  Play the tray game. Put 5-10 articles from Ms Hubbard's cupboard on a tray.

Give the kids a minute or two to look at them and then take one item off without the kids seeing which one it was.

 They have to tell you  which one is missing.

Carry on until there is only one or two items left on the tray. 

Make the objects interesting and colourful.

This makes it easier for younger children to remember them.

3  Play an adaptation of the suitcase game. Instead put things in Mother Hubbard's cupboard starting with' A'

    !st child:  ' I put an apple in Mother Hubbard's cupboard. '

    2nd child: ' I put in a banana ' and so on until you get to 'Z'

Some easy to set up nursery rhyme activities for your class to have fun with at any time of the day!

Jack be Nimble

Jack be nimble

Jack be quick

Jack jump over the candle stick

Gross motor skills

1. Get the kids practising  their jumping skills by providing several obstacles to jump over or climb over.

Or 2.Make a numbered obstacle course for them to use during their outdoor play time.


Here are some literacy ideas for your nursery rhyme activities theme

1. Read some pirate stories to your class

You will find some examples of story books and lots of other fun pirate ideas on my Pirate Teaching Theme page.

  2. Find out about some real life pirates like Black Jack Smatt and find Jamaca on a world map

Have any of the kids been there? If not what do they think it might be like?

  3. Draw a map of their very own Treasure Island. They could discuss where on their island they would hid their stolen loot! They could put a cross on the back and get their friends to find it.

  4. Sing the song  A pirate went to sea,sea,sea  

                              To see what he could see,see,see

                              And all that he could see,see,see

                              Was the bottom of the deep blue                                               sea,sea,sea!                                     

Use the rhyme to talk about the different ways you can make the sound 'ee.' 

Don't forget to include 'y' ie silly

  5. Brainstorm different words that mean 'fast 'starting with quick and nimble of course!

Other Jack be Nimble Nursery Rhyme Activities

1. Have some Speedy Races as one of your nursery rhyme activities.

 See who can write their name the most number of times in a minute or for younger kids see who can draw their mum the most times in a minute or to make it more physical 'who can do the most star jumps?'

 2. Do some meditation:

 Light a candle and get the kids to empty their minds and just watch the flame of the candle.

This activity is a useful one to use if your day has been a little too stressful or noisy. It takes several attempts but is well worth the effort.The kids love it too!

Sing a Song of Sixpence

Sing a song of sixpence

A pocket full of rye

Four and twenty blackbirds

Baked in a pie

When the pie was opened

The birds began to sing

Wasn't that a dainty dish

To set before the king?

The king was in his counting house

Counting out his money

The queen was in the parlour 

Eating bread and honey

The maid was in the garden 

Hanging out the clothes 

When down came a blackbird

And pecked off her nose!

Literacy and Circle Time Activities for Sing a Song of Sixpence

1. Show the kids a real sixpence if you can get hold of one 

If not try the web! Tell them it was worth 2 and a 1/2 pence and 2 of them made a shilling. [sterling]

2. Try some rye bread or make some.

3. Act out the rhyme with the kids.

Have some volunteers crouched on the floor covered by a blanket and when you sing 'the birds began to sing' 

They can throw the blanket back and sing like birdies! 

They love this!

4. Look at a non fiction book of birds. Find out some facts about blackbirds or go to my 'birds teaching theme' page and try out some ideas from there!

Art Stuff

 Make a huge blackbird pie!

Cut out a large circle out of cartridge paper and paint it pastry colour or cover it with a layer of torn up brown tissue paper

The kids can make some simple 3d blackbirds, nothing fancy, just a V shape will do, and stick them on to the middle of paper in a sort of circle.

To make the crust. Cut out the same size circle of paper as the base, paint it or cover it with tissue like before. 

Cut a cross in the centre of the top circle, open it and have the birds poke through! Dont forget to stick the edges down though!

A wall display for your nursery rhyme activities theme!

Georgie Porgie Pudding and Pie

Georgie Porgie pudding and pie

Kissed the girls and made them cry

When the boys came out to play 

Georgie Porgie ran away!

General all round Activities for Georgie Porgie

I have not sectioned off these nursery rhyme activities for Georgie Porgie but given you a selection of all round ideas for the rhyme.

1.Talk to the kids about healthy eating and the dangers of putting on too much weight. [for more food ideas go to the food teaching theme page]

2.Have some fun outside playing 'Tag'

You could name the 'Tagger' Georgie Porgie and anyone that's tagged joins the George side!

3. See how many names beginning with G the kids can think of. Do they know any famous Georges?

4. Make an Acrostic poem with the kids using the word  GEORGIE

 You could start with  Georgie eats --------

 It doesn't have to make sense as long as it reads like a poem.

5. Get the kids to write 'Georgie' in as many different fonts, sizes and colours as they can all over a blank piece of paper. They could cut them out and make a collage with them.

Pop Goes the Weasel

Half a pound of tuppenny rice

Half a pound of treacle

Mix it up and make it nice 

Pop goes the weasel!

Up and down the city street 

In and out the Eagle

That's the way the money goes 

Pop goes the weasel!

Activities for Pop goes the Weasel

1. Have fun making some rhyming slang words of your own

For example hat could be bird and bat or bird

2. Get the kids to make a weasel puppet. [Just a simple drawing on a stick will do] Then every time you say 'Pop goes the weasel' The kids make their puppets jump up!

3. Older kids could tell a story of the rhyme as if they were a person living at that time. Why did they have to pawn their coat? 

4. In the sand tray put some paper bags and have some scales handy. Challenge the kids to weigh out half pound  bags of sand. Tell them that 1/2 pound is equivalent to 250g

 Then ask them how much all the bags weigh. [For older kids obviously!!]

5. Clap the rhythmn out on different parts of the body

    First line: Clap your hands on your knees

    Second line: clap hands on your shoulders

    Third line: Clap hands on your head

    Last line: Jump up in the air!

Repeat with second verse in the same way or clap hands on     different parts of the body.

Find some more nursery rhyme activities below.

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Twinkle Twinkle little star

How I wonder what you are.

Up above the world so high

Like a diamond in the sky.

Twinkle twinkle little star

How I wonder what you are.

Activities for Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

1. Talk to the children about imagery. [literacy]

 Ask why they think a diamond is like a star, ie it sparlkles 

Perhaps you could do the same with other things such as the sun. What do they think that is like?

2. Make some stars out of silver paper. [maths]

First get the kids to draw round 2 equilateral triangles and cut them out. [good for the cutting skills!]

Then arrange the triangles so that they overlap and form 6 points.

 Stick them down and glue them on some black or blue paper.

3. Make some star cookies. You will need some cookie dough and a star cookie cutter

4. If you can't be bothered with the dough making, make stars out of salt dough or playdough. The salt dough  ones you can cook and paint later. Good for Xmas decorations too!

5.Talk about space and the universe with the kids. What do they know about it and what do they want to find out? There are some excellent books about stars and space both fiction and non fiction for you to read with the kids. [ See below]

Books you might like to look at when introducing the Twinkle Twinkle little Star rhyme.

Just click on the text to order or preview book from Amazon

Space Boy by Leo Landry  

Our Stars by Anne F Rockwell

What's out there by Lynn Wilson

On the Moon by Anna Milbourne

Whatever Next by Jill Murphy

This nursery rhyme could be the start of a space theme. For some ideas go to Space activities for Kids page and fly!

Humpty Dumpty

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall

All the Kings horses and all the kings men

Couldn't put Humpty together again!

Gross Motor Skill Activities

1. Have an egg and spoon race with the kids. You could use real hard boiled eggs if you dare! Otherwise use plastic or stone ones. You could make this more fun by making an assault course for them to try.

 See if they can complete it without dropping the egg!

2. If you have some large blocks in your classroom challenge the kids to make a wall with them. Then see if they can balance an egg on the top.

3. Make a 'low wall' out in the play area for them to jump off. You could put a mat underneath and let them practice the jump and roll procedure!

Literacy Activities

1. Change the last word of each line to make a nonsense rhyme For example:

   Humpty Dumpty sat on a chair

   Humpty Dumpty fell through the air

   All the kings horses and all the kings cats

   Sent the old Humpty to catch all the rats!

2. Use the 5 frame technique to tell the story of Humpty Dumpty in pictures.

They can use whatever media they choose to show the story visually.

    They could build a wall with lego bricks.  

    Put a plastic egg on top with a face drawn on it. 

Then take a photo. As each stage of the story is acted out, a photo is taken to tell that part of the story.

 When you have 5 photos make a zig zag book or make a display for your classroom.

Older children could write a sentence under each frame.

3. Make an egg sandwich for snack time. Allow the kids to have a go at smashing the eggs with a fork then adding some mayonnaise with a little salt and pepper if they wish.

Together in Circle Time you could compile a recipe for making egg sandwiches.

4. Allow the kids to make a puppet of Humpty out of a card oval and a lolly stick. They can then make a wall out of blocks and act out the rhyme while singing it!

For some more egg activities go to Easter Activities for Kids page.

Baa Baa Blacksheep

Baa Baa Blacksheep 

Have you any wool?

Yes Sir, Yes Sir 3 bags full.

One for the master, one for the dame,

And one for the little boy who lives down the lane.

Miscellaneous Activities for Baa Baa Blacksheep

 1. Try dying some sheep's wool with natural materials such as onion skins or blackcurrant juice.

 2. Teach the kids to knit.

 If they get the hang of it perhaps they could all make a square which could be made into a blanket which could be donated to a local charity or to foreign aid. 

 I did this with my class of 6-7 year olds. We gave our rug to an animal hospital who needed them to keep sick animals warm.

 3. How many more words can you find beginning with 'b' Challenge the kids to find 10 words in pairs.

 4. Practice counting in 3's.

 If one farmer has 3 bags, how many bags would 5 farmers have?

5. Ask the class to get into groups of 3. Are there any left over? How many groups have you got altogether?

Can we use these groups to help us find out how many children are in the class altogether?

Is this an odd number or even number?  Repeat with another number. 

6. Play, 'The Farmers in his Den' with the kids.

7. Bubble painted sheep. For instructions see my Farm Theme page.

I hope you've enjoyed at least a few of these Nursery Rhyme Activities and will feel like dipping into a few more of  my Top Teaching Ideas and themes.

  Go to Home from Nursery Rhyme Activities


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Nursery Rhymes Revealed