What are some traditional nursery songs?


Quick Answer

Some traditional nursery songs are "The Bear Went Over the Mountain," "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" and "Row, Row, Row Your Boat." The nursery song "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" is also very well-known.

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Full Answer

A nursery song is a short rhyming story set to music and usually designed for young children. Nursery songs play a big part in many cultures, and they often serve as an oral record of important political and historical events. Typically, a nursery song has simple vocabulary and a catchy rhyme. Children can quickly learn to sing along, so it helps young children build their vocabulary. Counting is often integrated into nursery songs as well, and children also can learn to count using the songs. They also show children how to find and keep a beat, and they can be used to get children to start reading. When a child learns a nursery song, he or she also can learn to follow it on a page, and many children learn the fundamentals of reading this way.

According to Kay Vandergrift, Professor Emerita of Children’s Literature at Rutgers University, many of the nursery songs were not originally for children. Most of the traditional nursery songs were part of an oral-based society that relayed news and spread coded rumors about authority figures in rhyme and song. Existing nonsense rhymes that were part of this oral tradition could be used or adapted to make references to current events. However in the nineteenth century, when Victorian society sentimentalized childhood and romanticized the past, most nursery rhymes were presented as for children only.

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