Volume Sadlier-Oxford 3 PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT SERIES Nursery Rhymes and Phonemic Awareness by Research and Development Staff Sadlier-Oxford A Division of William H. Sadlier, Inc. P icture this: A young child sits on a parent’s lap while the two of them clap rhythmically together and recite in unison: Hey diddle, diddle, The cat and the fiddle, The cow jumped over the moon; The little dog laughed To see such sport, And the dish ran away with the spoon. The moment ends as the parent tickles the child’s tummy and the two of them laugh and laugh and laugh. If you guessed that this seemingly In the playful moment described above, inconsequential event in a child’s life the child is not only experiencing the has profound consequences—you’d be joy of words but is also implicitly right! Research suggests that hearing, developing early literacy skills—one learning, and reciting Mother Goose of the most important of which is nursery rhymes can help young children phonemic awareness. take the first steps toward becoming proficient readers.
SADLIER-OXFORD Professional Development SeriesPHONEMIC AWARENESS begin to decode the letter/sound correspondences that make up our writtenWhat Is Phonemic Awareness? language — that is, they can begin to read (Bond and Dykstra, 1967).Phonemic awareness is defined as “theawareness of sounds (phonemes) that makeup spoken words” (Williams, 1995). Someone What Instruction Can a Teacherconsciously and analytically aware of the Provide in Phonemic Awareness?sounds that make up spoken words would be It has been recognized that there are severalable to hear the word pat, for example, in levels of phonemic awareness in whichthese ways: it has one syllable; it consists of children may need explicit instruction beforethe initial sound /p/ and the rime at; and it they can begin decoding words on a pageis made up of three phonemes, or sounds: (Blachman, 1984b; Lewkowicz, 1980; Stanovich,/p/, /a/, and /t/. Cunningham, and Cramer, 1984; Yopp, 1988). Adams (1990) identifies five levels:Why Is Phonemic AwarenessImportant in Reading Instruction? 1. Knowledge of nursery rhymesFrom infancy, a child gradually becomes 2. Oddity tasksadept at implicitly recognizing and using 3. Blending and syllable-splittingphonemes—in speaking and listening (Eimas, 4. Phonemic segmentationSiqueland, Jusczyk, and Vigorito, 1971). A 5. Phoneme manipulationgrowing majority of educators believe thatwhen children begin reading instruction,they need to become explicitly aware that What Sources Can a Teacher Turn To?spoken words are composed of sounds and Which materials are the most appropriatethey must develop the ability to consciously for instruction in the five levels of phonemicand analytically hear, identify, and awareness? There is no definitive answer tomanipulate those sounds (Moats, Furry, that question, of course; but, according toand Brownell, 1998). Opie and Opie (1959), nursery rhymes haveResearch indicates that this conscious, long been accepted as having a place in theanalytical phonemic awareness and letter preschool classroom and the range of rhymesknowledge are the best predictors of early that can be used is extensive. Holdaway’sreading acquisition. This means that once observations (1979) support that finding:children have some degree of phonemic “Preschool teachers use nursery rhymes andawareness and letter knowledge they can songs with groups of children or the whole 2
SADLIER-OXFORD Professional Development Seriesclass, which has a real social benefit as children—and adults! Why? “Stop andchildren chant and sing in unison.” Cullinan listen to the rhymes. See how they awaken(1999) adds: “Mother Goose rhymes … responsiveness in boys and girls. They arereinforce key reading skills, such as phonemic short, fun-filled, dramatic, pleasing to theawareness.” And research reveals that there is ear, easy to remember—and oh, so hard toa strong link between the nursery rhyme forget” (Hopkins, 1998).knowledge of PreK children and their future Traditional nursery rhymes, then, can servesuccess in reading and spelling (MacLean, as rich instructional material — not onlyBryant, and Bradley, 1987). in developing the first level of phonemicNursery rhymes are not for the preschool awareness but also in explicit instructionclassroom only (Samuels and Farstrup, 1992). at the other four levels.They exert their power over all primary 3
SADLIER-OXFORD Professional Development SeriesMOTHER GOOSE AND turning an area into Mother Gooseland withPHONEMIC AWARENESS big and little books, puppets, audiocassettes, and so on. But most of all—recite and singFollowing are practical suggestions for to children and have children recite and singusing Mother Goose nursery rhymes to you and to each other.to develop phonemic awareness inyoung learners. Level Two: Oddity tasksLevel One: Knowledge of Teacher Tip: Continue asking children to identify rhyming words and listen for initialnursery rhymes sounds in words. Provide instruction and Teacher Tip: Help children develop an practice in listening for ending and medial“ear” for rhyme and alliteration (1) by sounds (Bradley and Bryant, 1983). Read or recitetelling children that rhyming words sound “Mary, Mary” (or one of your favorite nurserythe same at the end; (2) by encouraging rhymes) a number of times. Have childrenchildren to listen for the initial sounds in recite it until they know it well enough towords; and (3) by reading aloud and reciting say it aloud easily and playfully.to children and having the childrenthemselves recite and sing nursery rhymes Mary, Mary,and poems. Choose nursery rhymes and Quite contrary,poems that are rich in rhyme and How does youralliteration. “Hey Diddle, Diddle,” “Little Garden grow?Boy Blue,” and “Mary, Mary” are just three With Silver Bells,of the many nursery rhymes that will help And Cockle Shells,do the job. “Hey Diddle, Diddle,” for And pretty maidsexample, contains these rhyme pairs: All in a row.diddle/fiddle; moon/spoon; and alliteration inthe repetition of the initial consonant d in Ask the following questions to checkthe opening phrase: “Hey diddle, diddle.” children’s ability to do oddity tasks:Your school and/or public library will have • Which word does not rhyme? grow, row,collections of nursery rhymes as well as some how (answer: how)of the many materials that have been • Which word has a different beginninginspired by the traditional rhymes. (See the sound? maids, does, Mary (answer: does)“Nursery Rhyme Books and Materials” • Which word has a different ending sound?bibliography at the end of this paper.) and, shells, bells (answer: and) • Which word has a different middle sound?You may wish to make the world of Mother bells, shells, maids (answer: maids)Goose really come alive in your classroom by 4
SADLIER-OXFORD Professional Development SeriesLevel Three: Blending and Level Four: Phonemicsyllable-splitting segmentation Teacher Tip: Model for children how to Teacher Tip: Provide instruction inblend and syllable-split. For practice in segmenting spoken words into individualblending, give children the phonemes that sounds. Have children tap or clap at eachmake up a word—for example, sound they hear in a word (Liberman,/k/ /a/ /t/—and have them Shankweiler, Fischer, and Carter,blend the phonemes 1974; Blachman, 1984a).together to say the Read, recite, and haveword—cat (Lundberg, children recite andOlofsson, and Wall, 1980; delight in thePerfetti, Beck, Bell, and alliterative andHughes, 1987). Read, rhythmic language ofrecite, and have children “Shoe a Little Horse”recite and enjoy the language (or a nursery rhyme of yourin “This Little Pig” (or another own choosing):nursery rhyme of your choice): Shoe a little horse, Shoe a little mare, This little pig went to market. But let the little colt This little pig stayed home. Go bare, bare, bare. This little pig had roast beef. This little pig had none. Shoe a horse This little pig cried, Wee-wee-wee! And shoe a mare, All the way home. But let the little colt Go bare, bare, bare.Check children’s ability at blending and Have children follow these directions tosyllable-splitting by asking them to follow practice or assess their skill at phonemicsuch directions as these: segmentation:• Say these three sounds: /p/ /i/ /g/. • Tap (or clap) for each sound you hear in the – word go. (answer: 2 taps or claps: /g/ /o /)• Put (blend) the sounds together and say the word they make. (answer: pig) • Tap (or clap) for each sound you hear in the• Say the first sound you hear in the word beef. word let. (answer: 3 taps or claps: /l/ /e/ /t/) (answer: /b/) • Tap (or clap) for each sound you hear in• Take away /b/ in the word beef. Say what the word colt. (answer: 4 taps or – claps: /k/ /o / /l/ /t/) is left. (answer: eef) 5
SADLIER-OXFORD Professional Development SeriesLevel Five: Phoneme manipulation CONCLUSION Teacher Tip: Model for children how to Although phonemic awareness is a currentmanipulate phonemes as you go about the focus of literacy discussion, it is only onevariety of listening and speaking activities in part of a balanced approach to readingyour classroom (Lundberg, Olofsson, and Wall, instruction. Yopp (1992) makes these wise1980; Mann,1984; Rosner and Simon, 1971). Read, recommendations about teaching phonemicrecite, and have children recite and play with awareness: make the activities playful andthe language in “Little Boy Blue” (or another fun; avoid drill and rote memorization; findfavorite nursery rhyme of yours): ways for children to interact with each other during instruction; encourage children to be Little Boy Blue, curious about language and to experiment Come blow your horn; with it; and make allowance for individual The sheep’s in the meadow, differences. The cow’s in the corn. As research and best practice by teachers Where is the boy reveal, Mother Goose is ready and willing to Who looks after the sheep? help young learners develop phonemic He’s under a haystack awareness, one of the first steps on the path Fast asleep. to becoming eager, proficient readers. Will you wake him? No, not I, For if I do, He’s sure to cry.Check children’s ability at phonememanipulation by asking them to followdirections such as these:• Say the word will without /w/: (answer: ill)• Add /h/ to the beginning of the word ill: (answer: hill)• Say the word fast without /s/: (answer: fat)• Say the word sheep without /p/: (answer: shee) 6
SADLIER-OXFORD Professional Development Series Terms alliteration the repetition of initial sounds in words phoneme the smallest unit of sound in a (“Betty Botter bought some butter”) spoken word blend to say the sounds in a word in a fluid way so phonemic awareness awareness of the sounds the word is recognized and spoken as it is heard (phonemes) that make up spoken words in everyday speech phonic instruction “a system of teaching reading manipulate to add or delete a particular phoneme that builds on the alphabetic principle...of or phonemes in a spoken word which a central component is the teaching of oddity task a task in which one is asked to identify correspondences between letters or groups of letters the discrepant member of a group of three or and their pronunciations” (Adams, 1990) four spoken words based on initial, medial, or rime the remainder of a one-syllable word when the final sound onset is removed (for example, at in cat) onset the initial consonant or consonants in a word segment to pull apart phonemes in a spoken word (for example, the c in cat).Nursery Rhyme Books and MaterialsThe following is a sampling of the manyMother Goose materials available.Battaglia, A. (1973). Mother Goose. New York: Random House.deAngeli, M. (1954). The Book of Nursery and Mother Goose Rhymes. New York: Doubleday.dePaola, T. (1985). Tomie dePaola’s Mother Goose. New York: G.P. Putnam Sons.Lobel, A. (1986). The Random House Book of Mother Goose. New York: Random House.Morrow, L.M. (2001). Getting Ready to Read with Mother Goose. New York: Sadlier-Oxford.Opie, I. (1996). My Very First Mother Goose. Cambridge, MA: Lee Bennett Hopkins, the “Pied-Piper of Poetry,” has Candlewick Press. compiled an enchanting collection of round-the-worldOpie, I. Opie, P. (1977). The Oxford Nursery Rhyme Book. nursery rhymes for Lee Bennett Hopkins MOTHER GOOSE, New York: Oxford University Press. published by Sadlier-Oxford. The nursery rhymes used inPiper, W. (1972). Mother Goose: A Treasury of Best Loved this paper appear in that work. Rhymes. New York: Platt Munk.Rey, H.A. (1995). Humpty Dumpty and Other Mother Goose Songs. New York: HarperFestival.Tudor, T. (1944). Mother Goose. New York: D. McKay.Wildsmith, B. (1964). Brian Wildsmith’s Mother Goose. New York: Franklin Watts, Inc. 7