Butterfly Wings

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SCHOOLYARD RHYMES – Traditional Literature October 1, 2008

Filed under: Traditional — anet smith @ 8:11 am


Sierra, Judy. Schoolyard Rhymes: Kids’ Own Rhymes for Rope-Skipping, Hand Clapping, Ball Bouncing, and Just Plain Fun. Ill. by Melissa Sweet.  New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005.  ISBN:  0375925163.




This is a collection of rhymes as the title indicates, for the playground.  They’re perfect for playing and many are fun and silly.  Some of the accompanying illustrations are as silly as the poems! Many may be familiar some may not.  “Columbus went to C-C-C-/To see what he could C-C-C”, Teddy bear, teddy bear, turn around”, “Cinderella/Dressed in yella”, “Nobody likes me, everybody hates me/Guess I’ll eat some worms” and “I’m rubber, you’re glue” are some of the ones you may have heard.  “Coca-Cola went to town/Diet Pepsi knocked him down” perhaps may be new to you.  The book also contains an introduction from Judy Sierra.




Fun is chanted all throughout this book!  The illustrations add a wonderful dimension as they are colorful and merry.  Often the children and animals have a jump rope made out of verse or the chant is included as part of the illustration (i.e. on the bubbles of children chewing gum in class).  I love the expression of the little boy who just burped and the not liked girl eating a worm!  The very long arms of Old Man Moses and long legs of the bow-legged cowboy are very fun.  I could go on and on.


Adults may frown at the playground taunts, but they are mostly harmless.  “Liar, liar, pants on fire/Nose as long as a telephone wire” has been used for years to express a point. 


The introduction included by Sierra is helpful.  She notes that the poems have been collected for around 150 years and that playground rhymes are similar in English-speaking countries.  She also speaks of the bond between generations that traditional poems create. 


I hope all of the silly verse is still used often in playgrounds across the United States.  I wonder if some of them are being pushed aside by culture and entertainment that is causing children to grow up more quickly than their parents and grandparents.  I remember saying some of the rhymes to my children when they were preschoolers, but they have a place for older children too.  Maybe they just need to be reintroduced.




BOOKLIST: “A great choice for back-to-school displays.”


SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL: “The rhythms and nonsense rhymes are irresistible, compelling memorization and participation in the fun.”



*As BOOKLIST suggested, use this with a back-to-school display.

*I absolutely love using books like this to read to students at the end of the day or after recess.  They are just plain fun and the nonsense is a nice diversion sometimes.

*Teach rhymes from the book for students to use if your school has a jump-rope club or participates in the “Jump for Heart” fundraiser.

*Have each student take the book home (one each night) to read several rhymes with a parent or guardian.  Have the adult tell their child if they remember any of the rhymes from childhood and how some of the lines may have been different.  Have each student complete a written response and compile a book of the responses.


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