Kids and parents alike love nursery rhymes. They can transport you to a magical far off place, give you a mini-education, and often, make you laugh. Here are a few things you might not know about nursery rhymes:
1. They could be Politically Incorrect: In an age when free speech was limited and public dissent could land you in a dungeon, nursery rhymes were a safe way to express politically incorrect points of view. Nursery rhymes associate words with similar sounds using a rhyming couplet or short verse which makes them easy to remember. This was especially important at a time when most people were unable to read or write. Stories could be passed down from generation to generation. They were used to communicate current events and freely express dissent in public.
2. Blame it on the Queen: Nursery rhymes can be traced back to the early 1300's (but they no doubt were told much earlier) and the written form of nursery rhymes date back to 16th century England where they were first incorporated into English plays. Most nursery rhymes were not written down until the 1700's when children's books as entertainment came about.
3. London Bridge was a shopper's paradise: The bridge was built and rebuilt numerous times between the 1st century and the 1960's, using the materials mentioned in the nursery rhyme. In the 1300's the London Bridge contained 140 shops, some of which were more than three stories high. The reference to silver and gold in the rhyme relates to the trading which took place on the bridge.
4. Mother Goose was French: The term Mother Goose originated in a French poem published in the late 1600's. Her entrance into the world of childhood rhyme occurred in the late 1700's when a compilation of English songs and rhymes from many eras along with illustrations was published. To add credibility, the book also contained sixteen verses from Shakespeare. Mother Goose nursery rhymes comprise four distinct categories: Lullabies, amusement, riddles and actual historical events.
5. 2 + 2 = Nursery Rhymes: Nursery rhymes can make you smarter. Research into childhood development has found that nursery rhymes set to music aid in a child's development. Research also supports the assertion that music and rhyme increase a child's ability in spatial reasoning which leads to greater success in school in the subjects of mathematics and science.
So, enjoy sharing your favorite nursery rhymes with your kids. It's fun for all and educational, too!