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Nursery Rhymes Go Green!

Build literacy skills with this fun role play activity! Students read a play script and answer key questions with followup activities


Grade Level: 3-6

MaterialsPrintable Student Handout Script 

Story Preview: Little Gerry Green Thumb wants to become a member of Nursery Rhyme Kingdom. To reach his goal, Little Gerry must pass the scrutiny of a committee of current characters. At first, some members of the panel have reservations about admitting someone with his unique appearance. After they meet Little Gerry -- and see his special talent -- they view him in a different light.

Additional Resources

Check out, a resource on teaching about diversity and tolerance from the Southern Poverty Law Center. This comprehensive site contains sections for teachers, parents, teenagers, and children, plus news articles, lessons, and a wide variety of activities.

Roles: Narrators 1 and 2; King of Hearts; Little Gerry Green Thumb; Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary; Old Mother Goose; Little Nancy Etticoat; Muffin Man; Jack Be Nimble; Peter Piper; Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater

Setting: present day, a faraway kingdom

Theme: diversity, nursery rhymes


  • abilities: skills, talents
  • amazement: wonder, shock, surprise
  • applicant: someone who applies or asks for something; candidate
  • application: request form or document, often for a job or admission
  • cockleshell: type of clam shell
  • contrary: an opposing or different view on a subject
  • diversity: variety, differences, mixture
  • gasp: to breathe in suddenly, especially in surprise
  • rhyme: poem or verse
  • unique: special, one of a kind, extraordinary
  • windowsill: bottom edge of a window frame

Props: (Optional) table; several chairs; several folders with a few sheets of papers inside each one; student-made large thumb shape created from green construction paper or paper colored green or a green plastic thumb; tape; two potted plants (real or plastic) or two student or teacher-made pictures of potted plants, one wilted, one green

Follow-Up Questions:

  • Why did a committee of nursery rhyme characters hold a special meeting? Who was the chairperson of the committee?
  • Who is Little Gerry Green Thumb?
  • What concerns did some committee members have about Little Gerry? How did the committee leader respond to their concerns?
  • Why does Little Gerry want to become a nursery rhyme character? How had he been treated in the past?
  • Which committee member asked Little Gerry to show his special skill? What did Little Gerry do? How did committee members react to his demonstration?
  • How did the committee vote? Why do you think they made that decision?
  • What does the new rhyme tell about the Little Gerry?

Follow-Up Activity: Discuss the meaning of the word “diversity” as it is used in the play. Then arrange the class into small groups to edit the play. Ask each group to create another new character with a different physical feature and unique skill. Then have each group write a rhyme for the new character. Ask groups to share their changes with the class. You also might have the class re-read or perform the play using the students’ revised versions.Additional Notes: There are numerous nursery rhyme sites on the Web. You might want to start with Enchanted Learning’s Rebus Rhymes, which contains the texts for many popular nursery rhymes along with printable and online activities.

Article by Lois Lewis
Education World®
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