Old MacDonald Had a Session to Plan

02 Feb 2024

The tried and tested ‘story hunt’:

Our Early Years Story Hunts are a long-established part of the Freshwater repertoire.  The Story Hunt structure inherently addresses many of the learning aims within the Early Years Foundation Stage  framework, and it’s flexible enough for us to be able to incorporate a wide range of themes which are part of the early years curriculum.

We love creating new sessions – Jungle, London and By the Sea have all been recent additions. But we know it’s just as important that we review our established sessions, as well as create new ones. We’ve been working through our older sessions systematically and next up was  Nursery Rhymes!

Rhyme and Reason:

What, in fact, was the session for?  Why are Nursery Rhymes an Early Years topic?  There are so many, how do we choose which to include?!

We quickly discovered that they are a rich resource for the nurturing of key developmental skills:

  • Nursery rhymes involve rhythm, often supported by melody, using patterns of language and raising phonological awareness.
  • They introduce children to a whole range of vocabulary and expression; they use linguistic devices such as alliteration, assonance, onomatopoeia, personification, metaphor and many more.
  • Some of them are incredibly relatable and help children engage in a safe, familiar world, while others take the children on a flight of fancy into lyrical imaginary realms of magic and absurdity.
  • Learning nursery rhymes is good for the memory and – of course – helps children develop their listening skills as they encounter new ones.  Joining in with familiar nursery rhymes helps children to find their own voice and expression.
  • Counting rhymes help with numeracy;  action rhymes encourage physical development and co-ordination.  And they are a trigger for open-ended creative play – role play, and storytelling, drawing, singing, making up their own rhymes and songs.

Once we started thinking about ‘why nursery rhymes?’ we couldn’t stop finding reasons why they were wonderful.  The Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years describes them as “bite-sized learning opportunities for young children” and, what feels perhaps even better from the Freshwater viewpoint, they are innately dramatic.  Nursery rhymes are intersection points of language and story and action.  They are micro-dramas.

Now utterly convinced and enthused, we set ourselves the challenge of identifying nursery rhymes which helped us to incorporate as many different elements as possible – ‘ticking off’ as many EYFS learning aims and giving as many developmental opportunities as we could within the short session time.

And we wanted the ‘story hunt’ to be a real creative experience.  We wanted the clues picked up by the children through the main part of the session to lead to a whole new story, one which integrated some of those lovely rhymes and characters into something original which the children would make together.

So we’ve packed eleven rhymes into the session, some old and some more new;  some are familiar, while others are a little less so.  There’s singing, and counting, and actions.  There’s a whole range of characters to meet, who come together into a new story about kindness and helping and solving a problem and restoring a little light back into the melting darkness of the mysterious night sky.

We really hope you will like it.  We have tried to create a rewarding, delightful session which leaves you with a rich reservoir of ideas to build on as you continue with your topic.  Most of all, we hope the children have the most tremendous fun.

– Lesley Jones (member of our Bookings Team for many years and co-writer of  the updated Early Years’ Story Hunt – Nursery Rhymes session!)