15 Nursery Rhyme Songs For The Little Ones | Famly (2022)

There's a good reason that the most popular nursery rhymes date back several centuries: they're an evergreen hit with children.

Whether it's Mary Had a Little Lamb, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star or This Little Piggy, most nursery rhymes are the same ones our grandparents (and perhaps their grandparents) sang as children, too. The reason these popular rhymes have endured is because of the way they engage some key developmental benefits with young children.

Here are a few of the biggest reasons why children love nursery rhymes, and why they benefit from them:

  • The repetition in nursery rhymes builds children's vocabularies. It's an easy way to help children pick up new vocabulary, and practice sentence structure.
  • Nursery rhymes build children's listening skills. The musical tone of nursery rhymes captures children's attention, and helps them build up their ability to follow along with the nursery rhymes lyrics.
  • Nursery rhymes strengthen relationships in early childhood. Sharing songs and stories is a timeless act of community-building, and helps you build up bonds with the children at your nursery.

And to give you some inspiration for which nursery rhymes to share in your own early years setting, here are 15 classic rhymes (and lyrics) to explore.

15 favourite nursery rhymes for children

1. Humpty Dumpty

The nursery rhyme:One of the most popular rhymes of all time, this classic story of the unfortunate egg is simple to learn and sing along. The nursery rhyme itself has somewhat obscure origins — though first mentions of Humpty Dumpty appear during the 19th century, there is no official record that Humpty Dumpty is specifically meant to be an egg.

Listen to it here:

Lyrics:

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again.

2. Eeny, Meenie, Minie, Moe

The nursery rhyme:The made up, strange-sounding words make singing this rhyme so much more fun for kids! You can find different variations of the lyrics like this one, featuring a little piggy and a tiger.

Listen to it here:

Lyrics:

Eenie, meenie, minie, mo, catch a piggy by the toe. If he hollers, let him go, eenie, meenie, minie, moe.

Eenie, meenie, minie, mo, catch a tiger by the toe. If he hollers, let him go, eenie, meenie, minie, moe.

3. Brother John (Frère Jacques)

The nursery rhyme:The original, French version of this timeless rhyme comes from 1780. It was translated into multiple languages and became a true classic among.

Listen to it here:

English lyrics:

Are you sleeping? Are you sleeping? Brother John, Brother John, Morning bells are ringing! Morning bells are ringing! Ding, dang, dong. Ding, dang, dong.

French lyrics:

Frère Jacques, frère Jacques, Dormez-vous? Dormez-vous? Sonnez les matines! Sonnez les matines! Ding, dang, dong. Ding, dang, dong

4. A Tisket, a Tasket

The nursery rhyme: This traditional American rhyme was first published in 1879, but it gained a new level of popularity when it was recorded by Ella Fitzgerald almost 60 years later.

Listen to it here:

Lyrics:

A-tisket, a-tasket A green and yellow basket

I wrote a letter to my love And on the way I dropped it

I dropped it I dropped it, yes, on the way I dropped it

A little boy he picked it up and put it in his pocket.

5. Mary Had a Little Lamb

The nursery rhyme:This is certainly one that your grandparents remember. As a historical fun fact, this rhyme happened to be the first audio recorded by Thomas Edison, shortly after he invented the phonograph in 1877.

Listen to it here:

Lyrics:

Mary had a little lamb,
Little lamb, little lamb,
Mary had a little lamb
Its fleece was white as snow.

And everywhere that Mary went,
Mary went, Mary went,
Everywhere that Mary went
The lamb was sure to go.

It followed her to school one day,
School one day, school one day,
It followed her to school one day
Which was against the rules.

It made the children laugh and play,
Laugh and play, laugh and play,
It made the children laugh and play,
To see a lamb at school.

"Why does the lamb love Mary so?
Mary so, Mary so?
Why does the lamb love Mary so?"
The eager children smile.

"Mary loves the lamb, you know,
Lamb, you know, lamb, you know,
Mary loves the lamb, you know,"
The teacher did reply.

6. Little Miss Muffet

The nursery rhyme:Ranking among the most recognisable English nursery rhymes, Little Miss Muffet is a short, simple classic. Plus, it's a good reason to use the word 'tuffet,' which in this context refers to a small grassy hill.

Listen to it here:

Lyrics:

Little Miss Muffet

Sat on a tuffet,

Eating her curds and whey;

There came a big spider,

Who sat down beside her

And frightened Miss Muffet away.

7. The Hokey Pokey

The nursery rhyme:This catchy melody comes along with its own dance, and all you need to do is follow the instructions in the lyrics!

Listen to it here:

Lyrics:

You put your right foot in, you put your right foot out, you put your right foot in and you shake it all about.

You do the Hokey Pokey and you turn yourself around, that's what it's all about!

You put your left foot in, you put your left foot out, you put your left foot in and you shake it all about. You do the Hokey Pokey and you turn yourself around, that's what it's all about!

You put your right hand in, you put your right hand out, you put your right hand in, and you shake it all about.

You do the Hokey Pokey and you turn yourself around, that's what it's all about!

You put your left hand in, you put your left hand out, you put your left hand in and you shake it all about.

You do the Hokey Pokey and you turn yourself around, that's what it's all about!

You put your head in, you put your head out, you put your head in, and you shake it all about.

You do the Hokey Pokey and you turn yourself around, that's what it's all about!

You put your whole self in, you put your whole self out, you put your whole self in, and you shake it all about.

You do the Hokey Pokey and you turn yourself around, that's what it's all about!

8. Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush

The nursery rhyme:First published in the 1840s, this one of the most traditional English nursery rhymes is often used as a singing game where kids move around in a circle and use their hands to imitate the activities specified in verses.

Listen to it here:

Lyrics:

Here we go round the mulberry bush, The mulberry bush, The mulberry bush.
Here we go round the mulberry bush, so early in the morning.

This is the way we wash our face, wash our face, wash our face
This is the way we wash our face, so early in the morning.

This is the way we comb our hair, comb our hair, comb our hair
This is the way we comb our hair, so early in the morning.

This is the way we brush our teeth, brush our teeth, brush our teeth
This is the way we brush our teeth So early in the morning.

This is the way we put on our clothes, put on our clothes, put on our clothes
This is the way we put on our clothes, so early in the morning.

Here we go round the mulberry bush, the mulberry bush, the mulberry bush
Here we go round the mulberry bush, so early in the morning.

9. Hey Diddle Diddle

The nursery rhyme:Another of the most famous English nursery rhymes, and possibly the oldest one on this list —some historians estimate that versions of this rhyme stem from medieval times. What do the lyrics mean? Well, that's for your children to decide.

Listen to it here:

Lyrics:

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.

10. Baa, Baa, Black Sheep

The nursery rhyme:This nursery rhyme can be used to teach the little ones about the joy of sharing and helping. Almost two-and-a-half centuries old, the melody is the same as the well-known Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and it derives from a variant ofAh! Vous diraije maman.

Listen to it here:

Lyrics:

Baa, baa, black sheep, have you any wool? Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full! One for the master, One for the dame, And one for the little boy who lives down the lane

Baa, baa, black sheep, Have you any wool? Yes sir, yes sir, Three bags full… Baa, baa, white sheep, have you any wool? Yes sir, yes sir, three needles full.

11. Rock-a-Bye Baby

The nursery rhyme:Based on the satirical English balladLillibullero, the melody of Rock-a-bye baby can calm even the most energetic little ones and can serve as a lovely lullaby.

Listen to it here:

Lyrics:

Rock-a-bye, baby In the treetop. When the wind blows, The cradle will rock. When the bough breaks, The cradle will fall, and down will come baby, cradle and all.

Baby is drowsing, cosy and fair. Mother sits near, In her rocking chair. Forward and back, the cradle she swings, and though baby sleeps, he hears what she sings.

12. Did You Ever See a Bunny

The nursery rhyme:Sung to the melody of Did You Ever See a Lassie, this rhyme is short and sweet. Make sure to be hopping while singing and strengthen those gross motor skills!

Listen to it here:

Lyrics:

Did you ever see a bunny, bunny, a bunny, did you ever see a bunny that hops — so slow?
He hops, and hops, and hops, and hops, Did you ever see a bunny, that hops so slow?

13. A Sailor Went to Sea Sea Sea

The nursery rhyme:The repetitiveness of the lyrics and a fun, clapping dance turn this catchy tune into a long lasting entertainment!

Listen to it here:

Lyrics:

A sailor went to sea, sea, sea,
To see what he could see, see, see.
But all that he could see, see, see
Was the bottom of the deep blue sea, sea, sea.

A sailor went to chop, chop, chop,
To see what he could chop, chop, chop.
But all that he could chop, chop, chop,
Was the bottom of the deep blue chop, chop, chop. Sea, sea, sea.

A sailor went to knee, knee, knee,
To see what he could knee, knee, knee,
But all that he could knee, knee, knee,
Was the bottom of the deep blue knee, knee, knee.
Chop, chop, chop. Sea, sea, sea.

A sailor went to snap, snap, snap,
To see what he could snap, snap, snap.
But all that he could snap, snap, snap
Was the bottom of the deep blue snap, snap, snap.
Knee, knee, knee. chop, chop, chop. Sea, sea, sea.

A sailor went to jump, jump, jump,
To see what he could jump, jump, jump.
But all that he could jump, jump, jump
Was the bottom of the deep blue jump, jump, jump.
Snap, snap, snap. Knee, knee, knee. chop, chop, chop. Sea, sea, sea.

14. Horsey, Horsey

The nursery rhyme:Planning a carriage ride anytime soon? Written as a comedy song in 1937, the joyful Horsey, Horsey has a great hook to it.

Listen to it here:

Lyrics:

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.

Steady Neddy off you trot,
Just let your feet go clippety clop,
Your tail goes swish and the wheels go round,
Giddy up we're off to town.

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.

15. Five Little Monkeys

The nursery rhyme:Introduce simple counting with these five naughty monkeys that just can't stop jumping on the bed and falling off it! Gotta love these educational nursery rhyme songs!

Listen to it here:

Lyrics:

Five little monkeys jumping on the bed
One fell off and bumped his head
Mama called the doctor and the doctor said
No more monkeys jumping on the bed

Four little monkeys jumping on the bed
One fell off and bumped his head
Mama called the doctor and the doctor said,
No more monkeys jumping on the bed

Three little monkeys jumping on the bed
One fell off and bumped his head
Mama called the doctor And the doctor said
No more monkeys jumping on the bed

Two little monkeys jumping on the bed
One fell off and bumped his head
Mama called the doctor and the doctor said
No more monkeys jumping on the bed

One little monkey jumping on the bed
One fell off and bumped his head
Mama called the doctor and the doctor said
Put those monkeys right to bed

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