Nursery rhymes are high in fun rhyme, but low in details. This makes sense though, since the purpose of nursery rhymes are to have small children remember them rather quickly. However, because they don't have many details, each orator can create their own images of what is actually happening behind the scenes in the nursery rhyme, giving way to lots and lots of interpretations. One of the more well known rhymes, that has some random interpretations, is Humpty Dumpty (hello, an egg magically appeared in this one!!)
The second day, once all of the details were brainstormed, the students started to turn those ideas into sentences. I modeled using my own brainstorm how to pick pieces up to construct sentences. Sometimes I combined two or three ideas from my brainstorm to write a sentence that helped my reader to see just what was going on. I wanted to make sure that a few of the who, what, when, where, why, and hows got into one complete sentence. After I modeled a few different sentences for the kids (using the first verse), I let them try.
By the time the kids got to the third verse, they were really seeing how creating sentences that contained several of the "W"s were more interesting and clear.
(Are you interested in the posters I used on my class charts? Click here to download!)
On the third day, I had my students create a cohesive paragraph that combined the sentences written on day two into a full story. Again, this took a lot of modeling, but the students were able to do this with relative ease.
So there you have it. Using nursery rhymes was an easy way for my students to really connect the idea of details driving the story. They were able to be creative, yet clear and concise in their writing. It really worked out well for us all!
Would you like my actual lesson plans and organizers to recreate this in your classroom? You can find them here in my store (though, you probably can do it based on my description here....I know...what a sales pitch ;))