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 ISSUE 17   •   5  NOVEMBER 2006  
   This week's theme: nursery rhymes


1. Editorial: The preservation of nursery rhymes
2. MAKE: Humpty Dumpty
3. MAKE: Little Miss Muffet
4. PLAY: Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake baker's man
More nursery rhyme ideas
6. This week's featured subscriber's blog

1. Editorial: The preservation of nursery rhymes

I find it quite fascinating that the humble nursery rhyme still features so prominently in today's childhood culture, despite the fact that everything else seems so commercialised and disconnected from tradition.

Nursery rhymes have been passed down from generation to generation for a really long time. As many as a quarter of all known rhymes are believed to date back as far as the 16th Century, and some (such as Sing a Song of Sixpence) are said to date back to the Middle Ages.

There is considerable debate about the true meaning and origin of many rhymes. Much of this confusion stems from the fact that the tradition is an oral one. By the time rhymes were actually put down on paper their context, and often their words, were changed.

I think it's very interesting to ask why we persist in re-telling nursery rhymes to our children, especially considering we have no real knowledge of, or connection to, their original meaning. Also, the subject matter can be quite macabre – just think of the old woman who lived in a shoe or those poor three blind mice!

One theory, put forward by Henry Bett, credits the preservation of nursery rhymes to "the astonishing persistence of popular tradition" and "the characteristic conservatism of childhood". I have to admit this rings true for me – I definitely enjoy establishing connections between my own childhood and that of my children.

If you're interested to read more about this you can check out the Wikipedia entry on nursery rhymes and read this article on the history of nursery rhymes and mother goose.

I hope that you enjoy this nursery rhyme issue of kids craft weekly – we certainly had a great time with these activities.

I'm giving myself a week off from newsletter duties next week but I'll be back again with another newsletter on November 19.

Until then, happy crafting!

Amber Carvan

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2. MAKE: Humpty Dumpty

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again!

This is a great project for an adult and child to work on together as there's plenty of crafting to keep both parties entertained. For an extra bit of fun give your little one some bandaids to stick on Humpty when he falls off the wall – then you can re-write the nursery rhyme to have a happy ending!

You will need

large polystyrene ball
masking tape
acrylic paint and paint brush
ribbon (two types)
dish sponge
split pins
wooden skewer
furry fabric or scraps of wool
small white stickers
marker pen
kids pvc glue

1. Paint approximately one third of polystyrene ball. We used masking tape to do this.

2. Cut two lengths of ribbon for legs. Then cut feet from dish sponges and attach onto ribbon using split pins or tape. Attach legs to body using tape.

3. Pierce arm holes through the ball using a skewer. Then thread through a piecleaner. If you want you can glue on a piece of ribbon for a belt.

4. Glue on hair, draw on face and stick in a feather for good measure. We also gave him some dotty pants by sticking on some small white stickers. When he's ready you can sit him up on his wall and...

5. ...oh, dear! Somebody call a doctor!

3. MAKE: Little Miss Muffet

Little Miss Muffet, sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey;
Along came a spider,
Who sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away.

This activity requires a long list of supplies but don't let this dissuade you! Most of these are things that you're likely to have around the house. Miss Muffet was the hit of the week around here. She's irresistable! I even caught my partner doing a Little Miss Muffet re-enactment on the kitchen table after he got home from work.

You will need

for miss muffet

toilet paper roll
scrap of fabric
glue stick
white paper
black marker
two small red stickers
scraps of wool
patty pan (paper cupcake liner)
sticky tape

for the tuffet

old sock or stocking
split pin

for the spider

two rubber bands
cotton or string

1. Cut a circle from a piece of paper to form the face of Miss Muffet and draw on her features. We also used two small red stickers as rosy cheeks. Stick face onto the toilet roll.

2. Stick fabric onto toilet roll. Then pierce an arm hole on either side and thread through a piecleaner to form arms. We also stuck on a pink ribbon and tied it in a bow.

3. Arrange wool on head and tape it on. Add a patty pan hat if desired.

4. Stuff a sock with a small amount of stuffing, then stick a split pin through from top to bottom to form a tuffet. You might need to manipulate the stuffing quite a bit until you get it right. You may also need to cut off any excess sock depending on how long it is.

5. Thread cotton through two holes on a button leaving a large loop of thread. Put two rubber bands inside the loop before tightening the cotton and fastening with some good knots. Cut rubber bands to make eight spider legs.

6. At Ella's insistence we gave Miss Muffet a bowl made from a small foil chocolate tray and a safety pin for a spoon. Here's the finished product – it turns out that this Miss Muffet is actually quite fond of spiders!

4. PLAY: Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake baker's man

Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker's man,
Bake me a cake as fast as you can.
Roll it, and prick it, and mark it with a "B"
And put it in the oven for Baby and me!

This play dough variation has a great texture and an authentic feel that budding bakers are bound to appreciate. It's also quick and easy and your little ones can make it all by themselves!

However, the end result is quite gluggy and sticky so make sure you have a wet cloth ready before your little ones go tearing through the house smearing doughy hands all over your furniture. If you plan to re-use it, this dough needs to be stored in the fridge.

You will need

• mixing bowl
wooden spoon
one cup water
• one cup plain flour
• two cups rolled oats
sultanas or raisins

1. Mix together flour, water and oats.

2. Use sultanas or raisins and other bits and pieces to 'mark' your work as desired. We found it great fun to sing the rhyme while we worked – it's a good rhythmic one, perfect for kneading!

Having said that, Arky much preferred eating sultanas to playing with dough.

5. More nursery rhyme ideas

• Put together a nursery rhyme prop box
Hold a nursery rhyme concert in your loungeroom
Play 'Ring a Ring of Roses'
Create a diorama of your favourite nursery rhyme
Make up some actions to popular rhymes – look here for some ideas.

For more ideas read my article on how to get great mileage from a weekly theme.

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6. This week's featured subscriber's blog

Old Soul Ink

"What you'll find here is a blog that focuses on making the world a better place and the stumbling blocks along the way, on music, on art, on film, on politics, on living more simply, on loving my neighbor as myself, on raising a good, decent human being, on being content and recognizing the beauty and joy in this crazy upside-down world. Not much else matters, in my book."

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