Miss Muffet, What is a Tuffet?

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SWBAT identify familiar items and retell key events from the text. Student Objective: I can describe familiar things about Miss Muffet and tell her rhyme.

Big Idea

How many children can relate to being frightened by a spider--EEEK!


5 minutes

As the children join me on our classroom rug, they find me sitting on a stool with a nice bowl of cottage cheese.  They are naturally curious to see what I am eating, so they gather around me.

Do you know what I am eating?  (Someone will say yogurt, someone will say cottage cheese.) I am eating curds and whey.  Curds and whey is an old-fashioned name for cottage cheese. The white clumps are the curds--say "curds", and the liquidy part is the whey--say "whey".

Do you know a name for what I am sitting on? A cushioned low kind of seat, like a stool, is called a tuffet.

Where might you have heard those words before?  That's right.  The nursery rhyme "Little Miss Muffet" uses those words.

Miss Muffet has an encounter with a small animal.  Do you know what that was?  A spider.  Who knows something about spiders? Think about how you feel when you see a spider.

I am going to read to you the Nursery Rhyme about Miss Muffet and the spider.  Listen carefully to find out how the little girl feels about spiders.


10 minutes

Learning nursery rhymes helps students expand their vocabularies and build phonemic awareness.  The standards call for students to grow their vocabularies through a mix of conversation, direct instruction, and reading.  I choose to use nursery rhymes for this because they are short, full of alliteration and rhyme, and are playfully developmentally appropriate for five-year-olds.

Now that you have heard me read the Nursery Rhyme of "Little Miss Muffet", I would like to share a video of the same rhyme.  See if this is how you picture it.

Next, I would like you to echo chant the rhyme with me. I will say a line, and then I will stop to give you a chance to repeat after me.  We will do this for each line of the poem.

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.

Who are the characters in our nursery rhyme?  What is Little Miss Muffet doing?  What happens while Miss Muffet is eating? These questions are important for recalling key information.

In this section, I want the instruction to be more interactive, not just direction from me.  I feel the more involved the students are in the presentation of the materials, the more that they will glean from it.  Although it seems like a lot of questions, not all of them need to be used every time--they are there to spark discussion.

From Miss Muffet's reaction, how does she feel about spiders?  Explain how you know this.  Can I get two volunteers, one to play the spider and one to play Miss Muffet.  I would like to see you act this out as the class retells the rhyme.  A round of applause for our actors, please.

Can the events in this nursery rhyme really happen?  Why or why not?  I want you to think about how you would react if you were eating and a spider sat down next to you.  Share your answer with someone next to you.

In the nursery rhyme you heard the word "frightened".  If something frightened you, it would scare you.  Have you ever been frightened?  You are going to share your frightening experience with someone sitting next to you.  I want you to try to use the word "frightened" when you tell your neighbor your story.

In a minute you are going to retell Little Miss Muffet, but you are going to substitute your frightening thing for the spider.  Here is my example.  I do not like clowns.  So my rhyme would go like this: Little Mrs. Moran sat on her tuffet, eating her curds and whey; Along came a clown and sat down beside her and frightened Mrs. Moran away.

Now you try to say the rhyme using your name and the thing that frightens you.


10 minutes


I have created a writing paper that you can use to retell your version of "Little Miss Muffet."  Take the idea that you have just shared with your friend and write it on the paper.  After you have written the words, I would like you to illustrate the page.  When all your work is finished, share your rhyme with me.  This will let me know if you understood the rhyme and the directions.  

This is a good time to walk around and ask children specific questions about what they have learned.  Some of the questions from the Procedure section could be used here.  Can the children describe things that are familiar to them from Miss Muffet and can they retell the rhyme?