Day 1 Nursery Rhyme Week: Old King Cole

This week I will be sharing some ideas around each of the five Nursery Rhymes, picked out by Music Bugs over in the UK. All these activities are for parents/caregivers and babies and toddlers (aged between 6 months and 3 years).

I have been teaching English for over 10 years now, and for the last four of those I have been teaching baby English classes (more about why later). There are not many resources for this age range so I thought here would be a

good place to start! The activities are based around the developmental needs of this age group.


If you are learning English along with your children don’t be afraid to sing along. Don’t worry if you are not a confident English speaker. Try to relax and have fun. Children imitate everything, if you are enjoying yourself, then they will too!


Let's begin our little adventure into Nursery Rhyme Land. Now, who is that Jolly old fellow over there? Why, it's Old King Cole ; ) This nursery rhyme was believed to have been written about King Coilus. King Coilus was a jovial but inept English king who was set up as a puppet by the Romans.

Old King Cole

Old King Cole was a merry old soul

And a merry old soul was he;

He called for his pipe, and he called for his bowl

And he called for his fiddlers three.

Every fiddler he had a fiddle,

And a very fine fiddle had he;

Oh there's none so rare, as can compare

With King Cole and his fiddlers three.

I strongly urge you to register with Music Bugs for a lovely version of the rhyme (it's free) If not, Follow the link here for another version. 

Some activities to try

Today's activities are for babies and toddlers up to about 18 months.

This an upbeat Nursery Rhyme which makes it a great knee bouncer. As you listen to the rhyme sit your baby on your knee either facing you with head supported or facing outwards. Now bounce your knees to the beat of the music. Babies love repetition, so don’t be afraid to repeat the rhyme again and again and again! Start singing along when you are ready.


You could try tapping your baby gently with your hand to the beat. Marching or skipping around the room with your baby in your arms while listening will help them develop a sense of rhythm too.


Get out a little musical instruments discovery basket and encourage your babies to play some musical instruments adapted for his age. Shakers, rattles, drums are great, again while listening to the rhyme.

musical instrument treasure basket
musical instrument treasure basket

We have the chance to have a very talented mum in our Baby English classes. This morning she played a piece on her violin during our English session. (A violin and a fiddle are apparently very similar in appearance). Our little babies were able to touch her violin afterwards.


As a follow-up activity you could set up a variety of bowls and pom poms for your children to manipulate and play with. Sit with them while they are playing. If you can, give a running commentary “You’ve got a pom pom! Yes, it is soft. Did you give it a squeeze? I can see that you have filled/emptied the bowl! You can throw them too!!”

EFL Babies Old King Cole
EFL Babies Old King Cole

We are blog hopping with the lovely people at Story Massage UK this week. Why not try this Nursery Rhyme as a calming massage, before or after a nap for example?

Language and communication aims

Listening to English Nursery Rhymes are a perfect way to prepare your baby’s brain for language and communicating later on. To help consolidate the learning, I always give the parents a handout with the song and an idea for an activity at home. We focus on just a few words or expressions each week which I ask the parents to try and use throughout the week, at the park, while having lunch, in the bath etc. Perhaps focus on a fiddle, a bowl, it’s full/empty. An obvious activity would be to use this while eating.


Have fun and we will continue our little adventure in Nursery Rhyme Land tomorrow.


sharing a Nursery Rhyme Puzzle at home
sharing a Nursery Rhyme Puzzle at home

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