Top 20 Nursery Rhymes for Toddlers and Preschoolers to Encourage Learning

Nursery rhymes.

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If there is one aspect of education that hasn’t changed for the longest time, it’s the preschool nursery rhymes. Even the earlier generation learnt nursery rhymes in their native languages, and nearly all English medium schools employ their usage in the earlier classes. But what exactly are nursery rhymes and why have they been so popular over the years? Let’s find out.

What are Nursery Rhymes?

In the simplest terms, nursery rhymes are an interesting tool to enhance early memory development in children and prime them to be receptive to the schooling experience. A lot of things that are repeated in the childhood tend to stay with us for the longest time. Which is why, even if you don’t use nursery rhymes on a daily basis, if you come across a small kid, you will automatically begin to teach him one. That is the power of learning things early in life since they get embedded in your memory and stay there for long.

20 Best English Rhymes for your Young Children to Begin Learning

An illustration of nursery rhymes

1. Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.

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. (x3)

2. Old Macdonald had a farm, ee ya ee ya oo.

Old MACDONALD had a farm
E-I-E-I-O
And on his farm he had a cow
E-I-E-I-O
With a moo moo here
And a moo moo there
Here a moo, there a moo
Everywhere a moo moo
Old MacDonald had a farm
E-I-E-I-O

Old MACDONALD had a farm
E-I-E-I-O
And on his farm he had a pig
E-I-E-I-O
With a oink oink here
And a oink oink there
Here a oink, there a oink
Everywhere a oink oink
Old MacDonald had a farm
E-I-E-I-O

Old MACDONALD had a farm
E-I-E-I-O
And on his farm he had a duck
E-I-E-I-O
With a quack quack here
And a quack quack there
Here a quack, there a quack
Everywhere a quack quack
Old MacDonald had a farm
E-I-E-I-O

Old MACDONALD had a farm
E-I-E-I-O
And on his farm he had a horse
E-I-E-I-O
With a neigh neigh here
And a neigh neigh there
Here a neigh, there a neigh
Everywhere a neigh neigh
Old MacDonald had a farm
E-I-E-I-O

Old MACDONALD had a farm
E-I-E-I-O
And on his farm he had a lamb
E-I-E-I-O
With a baa baa here
And a baa baa there
Here a baa, there a baa
Everywhere a baa baa
Old MacDonald had a farm
E-I-E-I-O

Old MACDONALD had a farm
E-I-E-I-O
And on his farm he had some chickens
E-I-E-I-O
With a cluck cluck here
And a cluck cluck there
Here a cluck, there a cluck
Everywhere a cluck cluck
With a baa baa here
And a baa baa there
Here a baa, there a baa
Everywhere a baa baa
With a neigh neigh here
And a neigh neigh there
Here a neigh, there a neigh
Everywhere a neigh neigh
With a quack quack here
And a quack quack there
Here a quack, there a quack
Everywhere a quack quack
With a oink oink here
And a oink oink there
Here a oink, there a oink
Everywhere a oink oink
With a moo moo here
And a moo moo there
Here a moo, there a moo
Everywhere a moo moo

Old MacDonald had a farm
E-I-E-I-OOOOOOO………

3. Incy wincy spider climbed up the spout.

Incy Wincy Spider climbed up the water spout,
Down came the rain and washed poor Incy out,
Out came the sunshine and dried up all the rain,
So Incy Wincy Spider climbed up the spout again !(x2)

4. The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round.

The wheels on the bus go round and round,
round and round,
round and round.
The wheels on the bus go round and round,
all through the town.
    (Roll hands around each other)

The wipers on the bus go Swish, swish, swish;
Swish, swish, swish;
Swish, swish, swish.
The wipers on the bus go Swish, swish, swish,
all through the town.
    (“Swish” hands in front of you like windshield wipers)

The horn on the bus goes Beep, beep, beep;
Beep, beep, beep;
Beep, beep, beep.
The horn on the bus goes Beep, beep, beep,
all through the town.
    (Slap palm in front of you like honking a horn)

The doors on the bus go open and shut;
Open and shut;
Open and shut.
The doors on the bus go open and shut;
all through the town.
    (Push hands back and forth in front of you)

The Driver on the bus says “Move on back,
move on back, move on back;”
The Driver on the bus says “Move on back”,
all through the town.
    (Point thumb over your shoulder)

The babies on the bus says “Wah, wah, wah;
Wah, wah, wah;
Wah, wah, wah”.
The babies on the bus says “Wah, wah, wah”,
all through the town.
    (Rub fists in front of eyes)

The mommies on the bus says “Shush, shush, shush;
Shush, shush, shush;
Shush, shush, shush.”
The mommies on the bus says “Shush, shush, shush”
all through the town.
    (Hold index finger in front of mouth as if saying shhh)

5. Twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are.

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

When this blazing sun is gone,
When he nothing shines upon,
Then you show your little light,
Twinkle, twinkle, through the night.

Then the traveller in the dark
Thanks you for your tiny spark;
He could not see where to go,
If you did not twinkle so.

In the dark blue sky you keep,
And often through my curtains peep,
For you never shut your eye
Till the sun is in the sky.

As your bright and tiny spark
Lights the traveller in the dark,
Though I know not what you are,
Twinkle, twinkle, little star.

6. Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream,
Merrily merrily, merrily, merrily
Life is but a dream

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the brook,
If you catch a little fish
Please let it off the hook

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the creek,
If you see a little mouse
Listen to it squeak

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the river,
If the river gets you wet
Don’t forget to shiver

Row, row, row the boat
Gently to the shore,
If you see a lyin’ bear
Don’t forget to roar

Row, row, row your boat
Watch the water flow,
Rowing’s fun but rowing’s hard
That is what I know

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the lake,
Don’t stand up and rock the boat
That’s a big mistake!

Row, row, row your boat
See the water run,
Rowing here and rowing there
Oh we’re almost done

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream,
Ha ha fooled ya all
I’m a submarine

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream,
Merrily merrily, merrily, merrily
Life is but a dream

7. Rock a bye baby, on the treetop.

Rock-a-bye, baby, in the tree top
When the wind blows the cradle will rock
When the bough breaks the cradle will fall
Down will come baby, cradle and all

Baby is drowsing, cosy and fair
Mother sits near in her rocking chair
Forward and back, the cradle she swings
Though baby sleeps, he hears what she sings

Rock-a-bye baby, do not you fear
Never mind, baby, mother is near
Wee little fingers, eyes are shut tight
Now sound asleep – until morning light

8. Mary had a little lamb, whose fleece was white as snow.

Mary had a little lamb
Little lamb, little lamb
Mary had a little lamb
It’s fleece was white as snow
Everywhere that Mary went
Mary went, Mary went
Everywhere that Mary went
The lamb was sure to go

It followed her to school one day
School one day, school one day
It followed her to school one day
Which was against the rules
It made the children laugh and play
Laugh and play, laugh and play
It made the children laugh and play
To see the lamb at school

And so the teacher turned it out
Turned it out, turned it out
And so the teacher turned it out
But still it lingered near
Why does the lamb love Mary so?
Love Mary so, love Mary so
Why does the lamb love Mary so?
The eager children cry

Why, Mary loves the lamb, you know
The lamb, you know, the lamb, you know
Why, Mary loves the lamb, you know
The teacher did reply

Mary had a little lamb
Little lamb, little lamb
Mary had a little lamb
It’s fleece was white as snow
Everywhere that Mary went
Mary went, Mary went
Everywhere that Mary went
The lamb was sure to go

9. London bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down.

London Bridge is falling down
Falling down, falling down
London Bridge is falling down 
My fair lady

Build it up with iron bars
Iron bars, iron bars
Build it up with iron bars
My fair lady

Iron bars will bend and break
Bend and break, bend and break
Iron bars will bend and break
My fair lady

Build it up with god and silver
Gold and silver, gold and silver
Build it up with gold and silver
My fair lady

London Bridge is falling down
Falling down, falling down
London Bridge is falling down
M-y-y f-a-i-r l-a-d-y

10. Little Bo Peep has lost her sheep and doesn’t know where to find them.

Little Bo Peep has lost her sheep
And doesn’t know where to find them
Leave them alone
And they’ll come home
Wagging their tails behind themLittle Bo Peep she searched for her sheep
But didn’t quite know how to find them
She looked everywhere
From here and to there
But still couldn’t think where to find themLittle Bo Peep began to weep
And lay down to rest for a while
She fell fast asleep
While counting her sheep
Then dreamt they came home with a smileLittle Bo Peep had fallen asleep
And dreamt that she was all alone
But when she awoke
And pulled back her cloak
She saw that her sheep had come home

Little Bo Peep had lost her sheep
And didn’t know where to find them
She left them alone
And they came home
Wagging their tails behind them!

11. Ring a ring of roses, a pocketful of posies

Ring a-ring o’ roses,
A pocketful of posies.
A-tishoo! A-tishoo!
We all fall down!

Fishes in the water,
Fishes in the sea
We all jump up with a
One, two, three!

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

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

Jack be faster, Jack be cool
Jack jump over the paddling pool

Jack be quicker, Jack be fast
Jack jump over the ship’s tall mast

Jack bounce higher, Jack bounce far
Jack jump over the planets and stars

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

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

Jack be faster, Jack be cool
Jack jump over the paddling pool

Jack be quicker, Jack be fast
Jack jump over the ship’s tall mast

Jack bounce higher, Jack bounce far
Jack jump over the planets and stars

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

13. I’m a little teapot, short and stout

I’m a little teapot
Short and stout
Here is my handle
Here is my spout

When I get all steamed up
Hear me shout
“Tip me over
and pour me out!”

I’m a clever teapot,
Yes it’s true
Here let me show you
What I can do
I can change my handle
And my spout
Just tip me over and pour me out! 

14. Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water.

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.

15. Here we go round the mulberry bush, the mulberry bush, the mulberry bush

Here we go round the mulberry bush
The mulberry bush, the mulberry bush
Here we go round the mulberry bush
So early in the morning

This is the way we bale the hay
Bale the hay, bale the hay
This is the way we bale the hay
So early Monday morning

This is the way we feed the chicks
Feed the chicks, feed the chicks
This is the way we feed the chicks
So early Tuesday morning

This is the way we sweep the porch
Sweep the porch, sweep the porch
This is the way we sweep the porch
So early Wednesday morning

This is the way we paint the fence
Paint the fence, paint the fence
This is the way we paint the fence
So early Thursday morning

This is the way we groom the horse
Groom the horse, groom the horse
This is the way we groom the horse
So early Friday morning

Oh, this is the way we milk the cows
Milk the cows, milk the cows
This is the way we milk the cows
So early Saturday morning

Here we go round the mulberry bush
The mulberry bush, the mulberry bush
Here we go round the mulberry bush
So early Sunday morning

16. Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet, eating her curds and whey.

Little Miss Muffet

Sat on a tuffet,

Eating her curds and whey;

Along came a spider,

Who sat down beside her,

And frightened Miss Muffet away.

17. Pat a cake, Pat a cake, baker’s man

Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker’s man.
Bake me a cake as fast as you can.
Roll it, and pat it, and mark it with a “C”
Put it in the oven for Carlos and me!

Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker’s man.
Bake me a cake as fast as you can.
Roll it, and pat it, and mark it with a “A”
Put it in the oven for Amy and me!

Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker’s man.
Bake me a cake as fast as you can.
Roll it, and pat it, and mark it with a “K”
Put it in the oven for Kayla and me!

Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker’s man.
Bake me a cake as fast as you can.
Roll it, and pat it, and mark it with a “E”
Put it in the oven for Evan and me!

18. Rain, rain, go away, come again another day.

Rain, rain, go away.
Come again another day.
Daddy wants to play.
Rain, rain, go away.

Rain, rain, go away.
Come again another day.
Mommy wants to play.
Rain, rain, go away.

Rain, rain, go away.
Come again another day.
Brother wants to play.
Rain, rain, go away.

Rain, rain, go away.
Come again another day.
Sister wants to play.
Rain, rain, go away.

Rain, rain, go away.
Come again another day.
Baby wants to play.
Rain, rain, go away.

Rain, rain, go away.
Come again another day.
All the family wants to play.
Rain, rain, go away.

19. Pussycat, pussycat, where have you been?

Pussycat pussycat where have you been?

I’ve been up to London to visit the Queen!

Pussycat pussycat what did you there?

I frightened a little mouse under the chair!

20. One, two, buckle my shoe

One, Two. Buckle my shoe
Three, Four. Open the door
Five, Six. Pick up sticks
Seven, Eight. Lay them straight
Nine, Ten. Do it again!

One, Two. Buckle my shoe
Three, Four. Open the door
Five, Six. Pick up sticks
Seven, Eight. Lay them straight
Nine, Ten. A big fat hen?!?!

One, Two. Buckle my shoe
Three, Four. Open the door
Five, Six. Pick up sticks
Seven, Eight. Lay them straight
Nine, Ten. Do it again!

One, Two. Buckle my shoe
Three, Four. Knock on the door
Five, Six. Pick up sticks
Seven, Eight. You’re doing great!
Nine, Ten. And that’s the end

Amazing Benefits of Rhymes for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Here are some of the benefits of rhymes.

1. Verbal Skill Development

Each child needs a good bit of learning and practice in being able to express their thoughts, emotions, and opinions in the right way that can be understood by anyone. Reciting nursery rhymes helps them speak and recite from the memory, which builds the muscle memory required for repeating words and helps in developing their internal confidence of expression.

2. Hearing Skill Enhancement

There is a reason why nursery rhymes have a sense of repetition to them. In the first stages of listening to the rhyme, your child tries very hard to understand and process it as a narrative. As he does it, he will try to make sense of it by repeating for himself and tweak it by listening to you better.

3. Memory Skill Boost

Nursery rhymes are structured in such a way that they are entertaining. The key to memorising them is to not restrict their usage only in school or only with the parents. You will notice kids break into rhymes by themselves and sing along unbeknownst to them. This is the final goal of the rhyme since this is a clear sign of it being embedded in the unconscious memory.

4. Motor Skill Development

Action rhymes for preschoolers are meant for a very specific reason, and that is movement. By using hands, feet, and faces to express the various aspects of the poem, children start associating the words and tonalities, with their actual meanings and non-verbal cues. This, indirectly, helps in their eye-to-limb coordination and enhance fine motor movement in a better way.

5. Language Skill Sculpting

Certain words in the nursery rhymes can be quite complex to speak independently by themselves. Which is why they are usually accompanied by a rhyming word so that your kid gets a vague idea of what the word might sound like. With enough repetition, the new word becomes a frequently used one and gets added to their mental vocabulary, improving their language.

6. Cognitive Skill Enhancement

The initial years are full of understanding the concepts of space, shape, size, colour and so on. Many of these ideas are usually discrete and stay independent. The inclusion of nursery rhymes allows this components to be strung together and create meaning, which helps in grasping these concepts in a strong solid manner. This also shapes the learning attitude within kids as they begin to pick up new things by associating them with what they know.

7. Reading Skill Development

A great way to complement the repetition of nursery rhymes is to use a book that goes with it. Once the rhyme is memorized by your kid, you can repeat it while pointing to the words in the book. This helps him understand the way a word is written and it is pronounced, allowing him to recognize alphabets easily, too. It acts as a boost to reading and helps your child in the later stages of his life.

8. Social Bonding Improvement

Nursery rhymes are usually learnt and performed in groups. As the teacher guides along, each child tries to repeat it and observes other kids as well to learn from them. Not only does this help in learning the rhyme, but it creates a sense of camaraderie between kids since they all share the memory of learning the rhyme, as well as begin to bond over it.

9. Imagination Skill Boost

Nursery rhymes barely make rational sense and that’s specifically done so for a reason. The creative capacities of young children are extremely strong and these rhymes allow them to delve into those imaginative worlds in a better way. That internal visualization is key to developing creative skills and different ways to express ideas.

10. Auditory Skill Shaping

Have you noticed that not a single rhyme is without a tune or a melody? All the tunes that rhymes have are extremely simple and catchy, which flow well with the rhyming words. This taps into various sensory portions of the brain, where certain patterns help in building learning blocks of the other regions. The music and tonalities assist in learning the words of the rhyme.

How can You Help Your Child to Learn Nursery Rhymes?

  • Repetition is key. Don’t be embarrassed to behave like a child. Recognize the fun in it. If you see your kid liking a particular nursery rhyme, feel free to start singing it yourself and your kid will love you for it.
  • Bring out the musical nature of the rhyme. Sing along with your little one and don’t forget to clap or dance to the beat.
  • Your hands are not the only instruments. If you’re cooking and your kid waltzes in singing his rhyme, use the spoon to tap on the bowl and the kitchen platform to add musical flourishes.
  • Reinforce the actions that flow along with the words of rhyme. This helps your kid visualize the words in the poem and remember the meaning even better. It also is quite a funny feeling to be a child for a change.
  • Turn it into a game. Try singing a line and let your kid follow up the next. Or sing half the line and let your kid sing the other half. This further strengthens the structure of their memory.
  • Mix the nursery rhymes with other hobbies they might have. If the rhyme is about a particular character, ask them to draw the character as described by the rhyme.
  • Once they are used to one rhyme, introduce a newer one that might connect to the first or be a totally different story. Know their interests and plan accordingly.
  • Learning is not a process in silo. You can use nursery rhymes to educate your child about the alphabet, numbers, colours, animals and so on. The association of various domains and senses brings a holistic sense of learning.

Nursery rhymes have been a strong tool for teaching for the longest time. As your child progresses ahead in class, the subjects tend to be separate and the overlap of teaching starts to reduce. Studies have strongly depicted that associative learning that crosses over domains tends to have a strong tendency of being memorized. English rhymes for toddlers are the easiest and the quickest way to develop a learning methodology for your child. The sooner you begin, the better it is for your child. Don’t force this as a subject to be learnt for an examination. Let it stay in the way of fun-frolic that it has been created as, and your child will fall in love with them right away.

Teaching nursery rhymes to your little one is an interesting approach to foster good memory in him from an early age. When your child learns and recites these easy nursery rhymes, his reading, verbal, and hearing skills develop, too. However, you can go a step ahead by focusing on overall intelligence with Intellikit, an activity subscription box that focuses on the theory of multiple intelligence. Each box has a unique theme, with fun, interactive activities that promote all-round development in your child, keeping him engaged all month-long.

Also Read: Music Games and Activities for Kids

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