Each day, my students gather at the classroom rug for our literacy block. Today I am introducing the nursery rhyme of the "Mary, Mary Quite Contrary". The Common Core Standards call for "students to grow their vocabularies through a mix of conversation, direct instruction and reading." Through the use of nursery rhymes, I can teach word families; in this case, the -ell family. Introducing rime through familiar text helps the children to comprehend the concepts taught.
Boys and girls, we have been learning lots of nursery rhymes recently. Today we are going to meet Mary and she is quite contrary. Have you heard this word, contrary, before? Does anyone have a guess to what it means? The word contrary means disagreeable or someone who likes to argue. I don't know why they say this character is disagreeable, but that is how she is identified in the rhyme. Let's use the word contrary in a sentence: "I wish that you would not be contrary during choice time and all get along." What do you think I am saying here?
The nursery rhyme goes like this: Mary, Mary Quite Contrary, How does your garden grow? With silver bells and cockleshells and pretty maids all in a row.
Research shows that children who have memorized nursery rhymes become better readers because they develop an early sensitivity to the sounds of language. These memorized rhymes are ideal vehicles for playing with language and phonemic awareness.
Let's echo chant this rhyme. I will say the first line of the rhyme and then I will wait for you to repeat me.
Mary, Mary Quite Contrary,
How does your garden grow?
with silver bells and cockleshells
and pretty maids all in a row.
Do you notice any rhyming words? grow/row; bells/shells Remember this for later, it is important for us to accomplish our objective of identifying rhyming words.
What do you think silver bells and cockle shells are?
How do you think Mary could make her garden grow?
What are some of your favorite flowers?
We talked earlier about some rhyming words in Mary, Mary Quite Contrary. Let's say the poem one more time together to listen for those rhyming words.
The words we are going to focus on are bells and shells. There is an s at the end of each of these words because the rhyme is talking about more than one, but for the rest of this lesson we will just use the word bell and shell. (Write these words on the board.)
What so you notice about these two words that is the same? -ell. These words are part of the -ell word family. We are going to go through the alphabet to figure out what other words we can build in this family. (I go through the alphabet letter by letter to insert them into the initial position of the -ell words, but I strategically skip "h". If someone brings it up, I just say that it makes a word that is not appropriate for school and move on. The less fuss I make the easier to direct the students' focus to the other rhyming words.)
Let's read through our list of rhyming words: bell, cell, dell, fell, gel, Mel, Nell, sell, shell, smell, tell, well, yell. (I point out that some of the words that rhyme do not end exactly the same way, but they still rhyme.)
You have had several times to practice the rhymes and the word family -ell today. I am going to send you back to your seats for you to show me if you can take what you have learned and match the pictures to the -ell family words. It will not take you long, but it will let me see if you understand.
Then, when you are all finished, you will be making a special project. Taking all that we have learned today, we are going to make a bouquet of flowers to help you remember this rhyme. We will use foil cupcake papers to make silver bells. We will use a shell shape to make cockleshells, and we will use the inside cupcake liner from the foil papers and a magazine picture to make our pretty maids. After we have made the blossom of the flower, we will attach them to a pipe cleaner to make a stem. The leaves will have the words from our rhyme.
When you have made your bouquet, find another friend who is finished and practice retelling the rhyme to one another.