Activities for Preschoolers Using the Nursery Rhyme "Sing a Song of Sixpence"

Let one of the kids act out the tale of the blackbird pie-loving king.
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"Sing a Song of Sixpence" may not spring to mind when you think, "Hmmm -- yes, definitely going to teach the kids a nursery rhyme and plan activities to compliment it, by golly." Consider teaching it, though, primarily because it's an unusual choice. Step out of the 'familiar rhyme' box. Be wild and crazy. Your kids have probably seen countless portrayals of Jack and Jill on TV. Someone could build a playhouse from books in the local library that retell "Hey Diddle Diddle." But who gives some love to "Sing a Song of Sixpence?" You do -- that's who.

1 Blackbird Pie Art

Make a pretend blackbird pie. Let the kids paint paper plates brown. While the plates are drying, cut enough blackbird shapes from black construction paper to make 24 blackbirds per pie. Don't worry about the shape of the birds. Sure, no pressure. Just cut shapes to look like feathery letter 'V' shapes. When the plates are dry, let the kids use glue sticks to attach 24 construction paper blackbirds to each brown plate.

2 Dramatic Play

Read "Sing a Song of Sixpence" while your dramatic cherubs act it out. There are parts for a king, a baker and up to 24 blackbirds. Yikes -- that's a lot of preschoolers. Round up some kingly looking costume things you have lying around the house. Give the baker a brown towel, or a sheet or blanket that will be the "pocketful of rye" pie crust. He should place the towel over the blackbirds when the rhyme calls for them to be baked in the pie. The blackbirds may wear black, or not. Mostly, the birds need to flap their arms and sing. As you read the rhyme, encourage each actor to play his part very dramatically.

3 Numbers Activity

Three numbers your preschooler will recognize in "Sing a Song of Sixpence" are the number 6 (from the once-used British coin -- the sixpence) and, of course, the 4 and 20 -- from the blackbird count. Keep the numbers simple with a number-recognition activity. Make three papers to use in the activity, each with one of the numbers written on it. Draw the number 4 on one paper, the number 6 on another and the number 20 on the last paper. Lay the three number papers on the table or on the floor, where the kids can reach them. As you recite the rhyme to your children, ask them to point to the correct number when they hear you say it.

4 Bird Songs

Give your spotlight-loving kids a moment to shine each time someone recites "Sing a Song of Sixpence" in your home. At the moment in the rhyme when the 'birds begin to sing' -- pause, then point to one of your own little song birds. Let him sing his heart out while everyone patiently listens to his song. When he's finished singing, read the last of the rhyme. Caution all who choose to sing a song that the music can only last a short time, because somebody's got to get dinner started -- sometime before bedtime.

Andra Land has been a freelance writer since 2010. Her work draws from experience in early childhood education, curriculum development and home and family management. Before beginning a career teaching children, Land studied communications at the University of Indianapolis.