Extreme Nursery Rhymes

I love being able to find a simple idea online for a lesson. If you’re like me, you don’t always have as much time to teach as you would like. When a class period is 45 minutes and 28 students need to check out books….time dwindles.

Looking online for lesson plans that have meat often yield lessons that require several sessions that are at least an hour in length. I can certainly plan some of those lessons, but not usually at the point when I am teaching an entire grade level in a fixed schedule rotation. Finding lessons for those fixed classes can be a challenge.

I did come across a good one in December before teaching my 4th grade rotation. Teachers asked me if I would emphasize thesaurus skills this quarter. I did a search looking for inspiration and found this document and this website about nursery rhymes.

Genius! I’m sure it’s been done many times, but I loved it. I thought it would be a good way to use a short text, thesaurus skills, discuss several thesaurus strategies, and to not be totally boring either.

I made a poster explaining the directions using ComicLife2 (thank you TL Virtual Cafe Monday Night Webinars!). After students gathered I quickly involved them in a discussion about two thesaurus tips: make word choices based on your audience and make word choices appropriate for the context. Then we went over the directions for the activity. Students used a preprinted square of paper with a nursery rhyme (I had about ten choices) to choose 5-10 words that would be good to change. Those words were underlined. Then students worked at tables or on the floor with their papers and books to locate good synonyms to substitute in their nursery rhymes. I emphasized that the rhymes did not need to actually rhyme. They did have to have a similar meaning. The poster with directions stayed up while we worked as a reminder of the directions and the tips I had shared.

It was so (I’m going to say the F word) Fun! The students actually seemed to have a good time. I even heard singing.

One cheerful student came up to me and said, “this is inappropriate, right?” I read his rendition of Twinkle, Twinkle.

Umm….yes….”twinkle twinkle little but [his spelling], how I wonder what you smell like” would be inappropriate. But I could hardly contain my chuckles! I didn’t even want to read the rest of the rhyme. Most students would write a rhyme like this and then slip it into the pile I collected instead of confessing! I calmly reviewed the directions for finding a synonym and not a silly rhyming word to replace the words in the original.

His second version was much better than the first….

One more note….you may need a variety of thesauri?? Thesauruses? (No idea and I’m not looking it up.) We found that our Student Thesaurus did not have enough words to find words from the rhymes. Even basic words like “black” (baaa baaa) or “wall” (had a great fall) were not in these. I rounded up several other versions and we practiced our sharing skills.

December 27, 2011
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1 Comment

  • Reply By Amy B.

    I did a similar exercise that I found online (I think). I used the book Livingstone Mouse. Each pair of students received two pages from the book. They had to replace very word they could with a word from the thesaurus, then I gathered all the pages and re-read their version. The kids enjoyed it very much.

    September 4, 2012 at 1:28 am
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