Counting on Rhymes

A popular theme in nursery rhymes and children’s songs is counting. In addition to Five Little Ducks and Five Little Monkeys, there are:

Five Green and Freckled Frogs
Ten in the Bed
One Two Buckle my Shoe
Here is the Beehive
Johnny Pounds with One Hammer

One of my favorites is The Elephant Song:

One elephant began to play,
Out on a spider’s web one day.
He had such enormous fun,
That he called for another elephant to come: Hey, Elephant!

Two elephants began to play . . . They had such enormous fun…
Three elephants began to play . . . They had such enormous fun…
Four…
Five…
Six…
Seven…
Eight…
Nine…

Ten elephants began to play,
Out on a spider’s web one day.
But sad to say the web gave way,
And that was the end of a perfect day.

Activity: You can make your own elephant puppets! All you need is paper, scissors, tape or glue, a black crayon or marker, and a cardboard strip or a straw. Here’s how:

Fold the paper and cut two heart shapes for the ears. Cut one circle for the head and one long narrow rectangle for the trunk. The shapes needn’t be perfect and you can use any color and any type of paper you have on hand.

Tape or glue the hearts upside down on either side for the ears, and attach the long narrow rectangle so that it hangs down from the center of the circle. Draw eyes and any other details you like. You have an elephant head! Attach to a straw or cardboard strip to make it a puppet.

Make as many as you can – if your child is too young to cut, share the jobs and have the adult or older sibling cut and the little one paste it together (and it’s okay if your child decides the ears or trunk should go a different way – let them be creative) and then …

Have some elephant play with your little one!

Count them. Line them up. Sort them by color – or by size. Make some with happy faces and some with sad faces and sort them that way.

Play some music and have an elephant parade throughout your house!

Hide them in different places and give clues on where to find them.  Start with very concrete directions, like “Can you find an elephant under a chair?” and build up to more complicated ones like, “Find an elephant in a cold place” or “Find an elephant under something soft.” Not only will you expand your child’s vocabulary, you will help further develop critical thinking skills and teach concepts such as over, under, up, down, etc.

Most of all, have fun together and don’t worry – they are always learning!

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