Nursery Rhymes: Demystifying 10 Popular Kids' Songs in Kenya

  • Do you remember all those nursery rhymes you grew up singing along to? 

    Well, not all of us knew the right words to the songs. Most children usually sang what they heard as long as it made sense to them.

    In school, for instance,  things would get worse if the teacher teaching the songs had an accent. 

    If you did not get what he/she said you would have to fix your own words that rhyme with what the teacher said so that you wouldn’t be left out.

    These nursery rhymes are a legacy of the English education system and remain the standard fare in schools to this day. 

    This article will take you down memory lane as I try to shed light on some of the most popular nursery rhymes that you probably didn't know their correct words.

    In this article, you will also learn the importance of nursery rhymes on child development.

    What is a nursery rhyme?

    Nursery rhymes, also known as Mother Goose rhymes, can be broadly defined as short songs and verses often read or sung to, or by, young children. 

    Many familiar nursery rhymes are centuries old and originated as part of a long oral tradition.  

    Nursery rhymes vary in style, subject, tone, and theme, although many are marked by a use of rhythm and rhyme that makes them easy to remember.

    They include nonsense rhymes, lullabies, finger-plays, counting-out rhymes, riddles, games, songs, and ballads, among other types.

    While some rhymes seem designed purely to amuse, others are didactic and educational, including those intended to help children learn the alphabet and numbers. 

    They also continue to be passed from one generation to the next as part of a shared oral culture. 

    What is the significance of Nursery Rhymes to children?

    Music is generally perceived and viewed as an enjoyable, pleasurable, and aesthetic experience 

    Most children are ardent music fans. They sing along to popular hits, Sunday school rhymes, advertisement jingles, Christmas Carols, and numerous other tunes.

    The early childhood stage is the period when the brain and neural development process is fast, therefore it is an important period for musical education.

    Nursery rhymes have a lot more to offer than just entertainment value.

    They introduce babies and children to the idea of storytelling, promote social skills and boost language development. 

    They also lay the foundation for learning to read and spell.  This is important, as the first steps towards early reading begin long before a child enters school. 

    Good readers have good language and speech skills. Generally, children who will become good readers enjoy listening to speech, love hearing storybooks and nursery rhymes. 

    Called the ‘nursery rhyme affect’ by some, children who are frequently read to long before they enter school are much more likely to become good readers than children who do not receive this kind of stimulation.

    Here are some  benefits of Nursery school rhymes:

    1. Nursery rhymes are often short and have a great deal of repetition.

    Repetition offers your growing child the opportunity to tune into words a second and third time and helps him remember what he has just heard.

    A rhyme’s repetition can also help your child become aware of the individual units of sound, known as phonemes, which make up words.

    2. Nursery rhymes are organised so that similar sounds jump out at you, which doesn’t happen in everyday speech.  

    By introducing your child to patterns of sounds, your little one’s brain receives the input it will need to categorise words by their internal structure.

    This is the precursor to the awareness that letters can represent the sounds of words. So, nursery rhymes help your child’s brain segment words into syllables, hear similarities between words that rhyme or start with the same sounds and enjoy the sound play.

    Having developed sensitivity to language, children are ready, at age five or six, to think about the sequence of sounds in a whole word, a skill that is crucial for learning to read and spell.

    3. Nursery rhymes can also pave the way for a love of books.

    They introduce the idea of listening from beginning to end as the narrative develops, however, they are short, so your youngster doesn’t have to sit still very long.

    As they gets older, you can introduce longer stories and those with a real plot.
     
    4. Many rhymes, invite your child’s participation and provide learning opportunities through movement.

    When rhythm and movement are combined, the brain is very stimulated and your child is likely to remember both the movement and the rhyme more efficiently and effectively. 

    5. There are social benefits to nursery rhymes as well.

    Nursery rhymes are often sung as a group activity, so your baby or child begins to feel part of a social circle that enjoys singing or reciting together. This will help your child connect with other children.

    6. Nursery rhymes link us to the past.

    Many adults, once they have children, will often be surprised at how many nursery rhymes they remember from their own childhood.  

    There may even be some strong emotional feelings attached to these memories. So the nursery rhyme becomes an important link between past and present as it is passed down from generation to generation.

    List of 10 popular rhymes and their lyrics

    If you cannot remember any nursery rhymes, don’t worry. Here is a complete guide to giving you that nostalgic feeling and fresh exciting memories. 

    1. Row row your boat

    Row, row, row your boat

    Gently down the stream

    Merrily merrily, merrily, merrily

    Life is but a dream

    Row, row, row your boat

    Gently down the stream

    Merrily merrily, merrily, merrily

    Life is but a dream

    Row, row, row your boat

    Gently down the stream

    Merrily merrily, merrily, merrily

    Life is but a dream

    Row, row, row your boat

    Gently down the stream

    Merrily merrily, merrily, merrily

    Life is but a dream

    2. Twinkle twinkle little star

    Twinkle, twinkle, little star

    How I wonder what you are

    Up above the world so high

    Like a diamond in the sky

    When the blazing sun is gone

    When he nothing shines upon

    Then you show your little light

    Twinkle, twinkle, all the night

    Then the traveler in the dark

    Thanks you for your tiny spark

    He could not see which way to go

    If you did not twinkle so

    In the dark blue sky you keep

    And often through my curtains peep

    For you never shut your eye

    Till the sun is in the sky

    As your bright and tiny spark

    Lights the traveler in the dark

    Though I know not what you are

    Twinkle, twinkle, little star 

    3. Eeny, meeny , miny moe

    Eeny, meeny, miny, moe

    Catch a tiger by the toe

    If he hollers let him go,

    Eeny, meeny, miny, moe

    My mother told me

    To pick the very best one

    And you are [not] it.

    4. By so I love you baby

    By so by love to baby
    (I swore I love you baby)

    To baby to the sa
    (You gave that to the sun)

    The saa to de yona
    (The Sun threw me yonder)

    The yona to de meh
    (And yonder I became a man)

    De meh phude phude
    (And then I grew threw that)

    5. If you are happy and you know it

    If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands (clap clap)

    If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands (clap clap)

    If you're happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it

    If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands. (clap clap)

    If you're happy and you know it, stomp your feet (stomp stomp)

    If you're happy and you know it, stomp your feet (stomp stomp)

    If you're happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it

    If you're happy and you know it, stomp your feet. (stomp stomp)

    If you're happy and you know it, shout "Hurray!" (hoo-ray!)

    If you're happy and you know it, shout "Hurray!" (hoo-ray!)

    If you're happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it

    If you're happy and you know it, shout "Hurray!" (hoo-ray!)

    If you're happy and you know it, do all three (clap-clap, stomp-stomp, hoo-ray!)

    If you're happy and you know it, do all three (clap-clap, stomp-stomp, hoo-ray!)

    If you're happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it

    If you're happy and you know it, do all three. (clap-clap, stomp-stomp, hoo-ray!)

    6. Rain rain go away

    Rain, rain, go away

    Come again another day

    Daddy wants to play

    Rain, rain go away

    Rain, rain, go away

    Come again another day

    Mommy wants to play

    Rain, rain, go away

    Rain, rain, go away

    Come again another day

    Brother wants to play

    Rain, rain, go away

    Rain, rain, go away

    Come again another day

    Sister wants to play

    Rain, rain, go away

    Rain, Rain, go away

    Come again another day

    All the family wants to play

    Rain, rain, go away

    7. Public van number 28 (Mabrigan)

    Public van, public van

    number 28.

    I went for a ride but now i stepped on the break

    blue band by by zero

    zero point zero is a round and a round.

    I am a girl, you are a boy

    this is a factor that you must do

    salute for the king and bend for the queen.

    Close your eyes and count to 15

    8. Daddy finger daddy finger

    Daddy finger, daddy finger, where are you?

    Here I am, here I am. How do you do?

    Mommy finger, Mommy finger, where are you?

    Here I am, here I am. How do you do?

    Brother finger, Brother finger, where are you?

    Here I am, here I am. How do you do?

    Sister finger, Sister finger, where are you?

    Here I am, here I am. How do you do?

    Baby finger, Baby finger, where are you?

    Here I am, here I am. How do you do?

    9. Johny Johny eating sugar

    Johny Johny

    Yes Papa,

    Eating sugar?

    No Papa

    Telling lies?

    No Papa

    Open your mouth

    ah! ah! ah! 

    Johny Johny

    Yes Papa,

    Eating sugar?

    No Papa

    Telling lies?

    No Papa

    Open your mouth

    ah! ah! ah! 

    10. Baa baa black sheep

    Baa, baa, black sheep, have you any wool?

    Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full!

    One for the master,

    And one for the dame,

    One for the little boy

    Who lives down the lane

    Baa, baa, black sheep,

    Have you any wool?

    Yes sir, yes sir,

    Three bags full...

    Baa, baa, black sheep, have you any wool?

    Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full!

    One for the master,

    And one for the dame,

    One for the little boy

    Who lives down the lane

    Baa, baa, black sheep,

    Have you any wool?

    Yes sir, yes sir,

    Three bags full...