This all started when I asked my grandson if he had ever played “The Farmer in the Dell.” He didn’t know what I was talking about! “The Farmer in the Dell,” “London Bridge,” “I’m a Little Teapot” and so many other songs and games are part of what I refer to as our “early childhood heritage.” If children don’t experience these things in pre-K or kindergarten, then they’ll probably never get to do them! And that’s sooooo sad!
“Fusion” is power word these days, so I’m going to suggest ways that you can “fuse” these traditional tunes with your curriculum goals. You can engage children and capture their attention and then use these activities as a springboard for reinforcing reading, writing, and math skills. Have fun and learn at the same time…that’s what it’s all about!
Children can experience so many things about the game of life through these “Oldies but Goodies.” Three of our leading educational theorists give insight into why games are so powerful in early childhood. Piaget observed that the more actively involved children are with people and things in their world, the more quickly they will assimilate new learning. Dewey emphasized that educational experiences are intricately interwoven with social experiences. Vygotsky also stressed the importance of social interaction to the child’s ability to construct meaning. Songs and games can provide the bridge to lead them from where they are to a higher level.
As early childhood educators, we have always been committed to the WHOLE child. What better way to facilitate social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development than with a game or song? It might look like children are “just playing” as you sing, but there’s so much more learning going on. Something as simple as “The Farmer in the Dell” can:
We are so busy trying to give children things we didn’t have that we are failing to give them what we did have! Just like “endangered animals” are in danger of disappearing, so are some of these precious songs and traditional childhood activities. “If your light shines, then pass it on and both will burn brightly.” With that thought in mind, I pass the torch on to you. And I hope when you play these games you will hear some of the sweetest words to a teacher’s ears, “Can we do it again!”