Itsy Bitsy Spider and language development

Colorful 3D Alphabet Vector GraphicWe all have heard those children’s songs:

The itsy-bitsy spider went up the water spout.
Down came the rain and washed the spider out.
Out came the sun and dried up all the rain,
And the itsy-bitsy spider went up the spout again.

Or perhaps:

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream.

But did you ever think of them in the context of building your child’s language?

Children are attracted to music because of the joy it brings. It’s really hard for adults to be sour when we’re singing about a persistent spider in the rain or a boat ride on a peaceful stream. But while you are singing together, you are opening up a world of new vocabulary, pattern, rhythm and rhyme. You give you child context for new words, which he will later use as he learns to read.

Let’s examine these simple songs from a learning perspective. There is a lot more here than meets the eye (ear).

New vocabulary and concepts:

  • “itsy-bitsy”- not common words but we know that they mean “tiny” or “very small”
  • “water spout”- perhaps connected to the gutters on your house? Could you show your child one when you are out walking?
  • “washed out”- meaning to be swept away by the water. Your child will soon read about bridges being “washed out” and will have a frame of reference. Is that a different concept than the stain that is “washed out” of his favorite Tshirt?
  • “dried up” – another concept meaning to have the moisture taken out. What else is “dried up”? A raisin? A prune? A puddle when the sun comes out?
  • “went up the spout again”- Is there a lesson in here about persistence and perseverance, trying again even if something is difficult?

As you sing with your child, remember you are building his storehouse of words. Learning to read well depends on a rich oral language (hearing and speaking) vocabulary. So fill your house with silly songs and know that you are building a strong, successful reader.

Note:  If you speak a home language other than English, sing often in your native language. Your child’s growth in English will be easier if he has a strong language foundation in the home language.

Can’t remember any children’s songs or rhymes?  Check out these links:

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