Module 2: discussion – nursery rhymes and poetry exploration

Most people remember simple rhymes they learned during their childhood–rhymes such as “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” “Hickory, Dickory Dock,” “Hey Diddle Diddle” and “Jack and Jill”–and many associate such rhymes with Mother Goose. Even though Mother Goose is often viewed as synonymous with nursery rhymes, poetry for children is not contained to Mother Goose rhymes–Mother Goose rhymes are poems, but all poems are not nursery rhymes. In fact, the name Mother Goose is not considered to be a particular person. Instead, Mother Goose is considered to be an imaginary author of a collection of fairy tales and nursery rhymes that were written during the 18th Century.

According to Irene Colthurst in her article “What is the Difference Between Nursery Rhymes and Poems?”, “Nursery rhymes are a type of oral folklore that likely don’t have a single identifiable author. They just emerge in cultures as ways of soothing and entertaining children and passing on bits of cultural knowledge. Poems (on the other hand) are composed as a conscious act of literary art making, and can employ complex rhythms and rhymes; punctuation matters, being crucial to the meaning of poetry.”


This activity will not only deepen your appreciation of nursery rhymes and poetry in children’s language development and socialization, it will also provide you with a glimpse into the rich literary history behind the genre. In this assignment, you will offer comments to your peers. Reading and reflecting on your peers’ ideas about style in poetry writing will help you enrich your knowledge of poetry writing for children. 


For this assignment, use the following guidelines as you write three well-developed paragraphs.

  1. Paragraph 1–Recall: In a well focused, well-developed paragraph, describe your childhood experiences with nursery rhymes and poetry. What rhymes do you remember? What poems do you remember? How were they presented to you? How old were you? What collections do you remember? Be as specific and detailed as you possibly can in exploring your memories.
  2. Before writing your second paragraph, read Mattea Harvey’s article from the Poetry Foundation titled “Poetry is an Egg with a Horse Inside” (Links to an external site.) and Sonia Levitin’s essay titled “Again! Again!” (Links to an external site.).
  3. Paragraph 2–Reflect: Referring to Harvey and Levitin’s articles and to your own thinking, write a well-focused, well-developed paragraph, discussing the definition and value of poetry for children. Include in your paragraph your personal definition of poetry. In other words, what is poetry and why do children need it? (Remember to properly cite within the text of your writing any source ideas you reference from the two articles. You will also need to include a works cited for any source referenced.)
  4. Before writing your third paragraph, read about Jack Prelutsky and Mary Ann Hoberman, two Children’s Poet Laureates. As you read, think about how both authors use style (word choice, structure, design, rhythm, patterns, etc.) in their writing to create meaning and to appeal to their child audience. 

    Jack Prelutsky:
    Read the article titled “A Children’s What?,” (Links to an external site.) which is about Jack Prelutsky, the nation’s first Children’s Poet Laureate. In addition, read “Never Poke Your Uncle With a Fork”  (Links to an external site.)and think about why children might enjoy reading Jack Prelutsky’s poems. 

    Mary Ann Hoberman:
    Read the article titled “Mary Ann Hoberman: Children’s Poet Laureate (2008-2010)” (Links to an external site.) by Michael Atkinson. In addition, read the short poems “Brother,” (Links to an external site.) “Fish, (Links to an external site.)” and “The Folk Who Live in Backward Town (Links to an external site.)” and think about why children might enjoy reading Mary Ann Hoberman’s poems. 

  5. Paragraph 3–Review: In a well-focused, well-developed paragraph, compare and contrast Jack Prelutsky’s poetry writing style to Mary Ann Hoberman’s poetry writing style. Consider the subject matter of their poetry and age of their audience. Explain and defend your position. (Remember to properly cite within the text of your writing any source ideas you reference from the articles. You will also need to include a works cited for any source referenced.)
  6. Post your three paragraph writing in this discussion board forum. 
  7. Read the postings of your peers in the Nursery Rhymes and Poetry Exploration Online Discussion and think about the ideas your classmates wrote about.  Write two responses–respond to at least TWO peers’ posts–commenting on an idea that affected you the most, and then explaining how and why that idea affected you. Each response needs to be at least 150 words in length.  Use examples and explanation to support your comments. Post each peer response as a REPLY to your peers’ postings in this Discussion Board forum.  

Post your discussion:

  • Click the Reply button below to post your introduction in the discussion forum.
  • When finished, click the Post Reply button.
  • You can also find this discussion forum by clicking the Discussions link in Course Navigation.


This assignment is worth a total of 50 points. Your 3 paragraph writing is worth up 30 points and will be graded using the Discussion Board Rubric. Your two peer responses are worth 10 points each.

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