Five nursery rhymes to teach children before they are forgotten

Long before radio, TV and the internet, we used to amuse our children and grandchildren with nursery rhymes. Though many popular ditties are still taught in nursery and primary schools, here are our favourite five that we’d like to see stand the test of time.

1. Five Little ducks

Easy to remember and a great way to help little ones count using their fingers.

Five little ducks
Went out one day
Over the hills and far away
Mother duck said
“Quack, quack, quack, quack”
But only four little ducks came back.

Four little ducks
Went out one day
Over the hills and far away
Mother duck said
“Quack, quack, quack, quack.”
But only three little ducks came back.

Three little ducks
Went out one day
Over the hills and far away
Mother duck said
“Quack, quack, quack, quack.”
But only two little ducks came back.

Two little ducks
Went out one day
Over the hills and far away
Mother duck said
“Quack, quack, quack, quack.”
But only one little duck came back.

One little duck
Went out one day
Over the hills and far away
Mother duck said
“Quack, quack, quack, quack.”
But none of the five little ducks came back.

Sad mother duck
Went out one day
Over the hills and far away
The sad mother duck said
“Quack, quack, quack.”
And all of the five little ducks came back

2. Horsey, horsey

This one is great to sing while bouncing your grandchild on your knee so they can really feel the ‘clippety clop’ of the horse’s hooves. Add in some tail swishing and rolling wheels actions for extra fun.

Horsey horsey don’t you stop
Just let your feet go clippety-clop
Your tail goes swish and the wheels go round
Giddy up, we’re homeward bound.

We`re not in a hustle, we`re not in a bustle
Don’t go tearing up the road
We`re not in a hurry, we`re not in a flurry
And we don`t have a very heavy load.

Horsey horsey don’t you stop
Just let your feet go clippety clop
Your tail goes swish and the wheels go round
Giddy up, we’re homeward bound.

3. I hear thunder

Sung to the tune of Frère Jacques, this is a sweet little rhyme that can brighten up a grey day and take the fear out of thunder for younger children that might get upset by it.

I hear thunder!
I hear thunder!
Hark don’t you,
hark don’t you?
Pitter, patter raindrops,
Pitter patter raindrops,
I’m wet through
and so are you!

4. Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross

Said to be about Queen Elizabeth I, this short nursery rhyme has just about fallen off the radar. Help it to last another generation by teaching it to your grandkids.

Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross
To see a fine lady upon a white horse
With rings on her fingers and bells on her toes
She shall have music wherever she goes.

5. Lavender’s Blue

This rhyme dates back over 350 years and was probably sung by your great-great-great-great grandparents! It came back into popularity in the late 1950s when Sammy Turner performed a rock ‘n’ roll version. You can listen to that here.

Lavender’s blue, dilly, dilly (or diddle, diddle)
Lavender’s green
When l am King, dilly, dilly
You shall be Queen!

Call up your men, dilly, dilly
Set them to work
Some to the plough, dilly, dilly
And some to the pond.

Some to make hay, dilly, dilly
Some to cut corn
While you and I, dilly, dilly
Keep ourselves warm.

If your favourite is here, or if there are others that you have in your repertoire, make sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren to give them lasting memories. Stories, recipes and skills are the best gifts that can last a lifetime.