Horsey Ride

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Here’s a fun way to add a sensory element to a favorite nursery rhyme! Using the classic Ride-a-Cock-Horse as inspiration, I threaded small jingle bells onto a silver ribbon for Veronika. Make sure to secure these tightly, either by knotting the ribbon once finished or even sewing the bells on so no bells can come loose. This is especially true if your baby tends to put things in his or her mouth.

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As I recited the rhyme, I jingled the bells for her.

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Touch them to your baby’s fingers on the word “fingers” and toes on the word “toes” as you go through the rhyme:

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.

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We also turned this into a bouncy lap ride. Have fun playing around with the lyrics as your little once bounces on your knee and listens to the bells. Since Veronika was all in pink today, our horse was a pink horse instead of a white one!

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You can also substitute your baby’s name for the word “lady”.

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Humpty Dumpty Goes Round the Garden

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The actions are getting bigger when I play with Veronika and nursery rhymes! As the mash-up in this post’s title suggests, here are a couple we’ve been having fun with lately:

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First comes the classic Humpty Dumpty. For this one, I sat on the floor with my knees bent, and Veronika on my tummy.

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!

As you say the rhyme, tilt your baby off your tummy on the word “fall”. You’ll want to do this on a soft rug, or have a pillow near you. Or even try it outside in the grass!

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For the second, we did an update on Round and Round the Garden.

Round and round the garden

Like a teddy bear.

One step, two steps,

And tickle him under there!

When she was little, I would circle on Veronika’s palm. Now her whole belly gets a circle.

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Walk your fingers two big “steps” up baby’s torso.

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Then end with a tickle under the chin!

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Baker’s Baby

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Today, I played a little game with Veronika involving the classic rhyme Pat-a-Cake, but in subtly new ways.

First, I sat her on my lap. Instead of clapping my hands, this time I clapped hers along  to the first verse. As a reminder, say:

Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake baker’s man

Bake me a cake as fast as you can

Roll ’em and roll ’em and mark ‘e with a B…

(Here, I rolled her arms, and then traced a little B in her palm. Alternatively, trace the first letter of your child’s name).

And toss ’em in the oven for baby and me.

Point to your child on the word ‘baby’, of course, and to yourself on ‘me’.

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Then I lay her on her back and repeated these motions with her feet, clapping them together, cycling her legs, and tracing the B onto a little foot.

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She loved it!

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For a little extra baker’s fun, I gave her a toy bowl and rubber spatula to play with.

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Mixing up a familiar nursery rhyme in subtle ways like this is great for baby’s brain. Or as an alternative, don’t forget to seek out new rhymes!

Felt Board Story Time

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Felt boards are a fantastic visual… and slightly magical to kids, too, since the pieces stick together but then peel right off. Today, I wanted to tell Veronika some familiar stories and rhymes using a felt board as a visual.

If you want, this could be a DIY craft: cover a board with felt and staple the edges in place. Then you’ll need to cut additional shapes from other colors of felt to act out the stories. I confess, though, that I used a pre-made felt story board. This made it a lot easier to focus on the storytelling for Veronika, and not on my negligible crafting skills!

She was intrigued the moment I pulled out the board, no doubt from the bright colors of the felt.

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And the texture!

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After letting her have some time for exploration, I set up a story. Goldilocks and the Three Bears was fun, with a little house shape, and a semi-circle for a bowl of porridge.

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Then I set up a little “boat” and sang “Row Row Row Your Boat.”

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This one was Jack and Jill going up the hill!

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And tumbling down.

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Obviously there is a bit of stretching the imagination that needs to happen here, but it was great fun to mix and match the shapes and watch her reaction.

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This is definitely a game I hope to continue as she gets older, especially since we can use smaller pieces and more intricate shapes once she doesn’t put everything in her mouth.

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Add to Your Repertoire

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I’ve been saying and singing nursery rhymes to Veronika since the first week of her life, but if you’re at all like me, you’ve settled on your favorites and tend to say the same ones over and over.

So today, I deliberately mixed it up!

If you need inspiration, read through a book of nursery rhymes to find new faves. It turns out there were some I’d forgotten about, including Hey Diddle Diddle and Wee Willie Winkie. She loved the bright pictures in the book!

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As I read her the rhymes, I pointed out each thing in the illustrations – the cat and his fiddle, the dish and spoon etc.

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Another nice idea is to tap along the rhythm on your baby’s back or leg as you say the rhyme, and they’ll feel it in their whole body.

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If you are unfamiliar the tune for any rhyme, check for a video of it online.

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Although I normally don’t advocate screens at this age, sometimes it’s nice to sit with Veronika for a few animated songs (and if you save this in your quiver of tricks for when baby is especially fussy, and it will work like magic).

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Finally, don’t limit yourself to English rhymes! We recently learned an indigenous Australian song, with a fun sneezing “choo!” sound and hand movement.

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It makes Veronika giggle every tiem.

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If you don’t want to learn a different rhyme, just add new verses to an old favorite. I highly recommend Little Baby Bum’s endless variations on Wheels on the Bus. You never knew there was so much more than wipers swishing and doors opening until you see what they’ve come up with.

What new rhymes have you added to your repertoire? Please share in the comments!

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Humpty Dumpty

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Veronika and I are moving beyond fingerplays, since she’s old enough now to get her whole body in on the fun for action rhymes. “Humpty Dumpty” is a great one to play with your little one, because the more you do it, the more he or she will anticipate the moment of the “fall.”

First, I simply recited the rhyme to her, to familiarize her with the rhythm and words. As a reminder, here’s how it goes:

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.

A Mother Goose book made for a great visual!

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Later, I sat her on my lap, with a soft mat behind her. Hold your baby securely under the armpits and recite the words.

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On “fall” we went back with a little tickle, then lifted her back up to a sit for a repeat.

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She soon was very into the motions and game! This activity will strengthen muscles, give your baby a good grasp of language, and teach emotional cues, since your smile and happy eyes will confirm that the game is all in good fun.

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Diaper Rhyme Time

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Of all the diaper-table activities we’ve tried since coming home with Veronika, this one soothes her by far the most!

Instead of focusing on the diapering itself, distract your newborn with rhymes or songs. Say or sing any that you know… Or, this is a great time to think about investing in a book of Mother Goose rhymes.

Often these are gorgeously illustrated, and they make wonderful first bedtime reading for your child – short on words, often set to a tune, and easy to read a couple each night, which sets up the habit of “storyime.”

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When you need inspiration, set the book of rhymes near the diaper table and open up to a page. To wit, I’ve been singing Baa Baa Black Sheep, Mary Had a Little Lamb, and Jack and Jill. The lilting songs and rhymes will help develop your child’s ear for language, their understanding of rhythmic beats, and more. And maybe even get a little smile on the diaper table.