Day 2 World Nursery Rhyme Week Hey Diddle Diddle

Well, I spent the night in Nursery Rhyme Land and you'll never guess what I saw! A cow, jumping over the moon. What a strange and magical place this is. Let's continue with our adventure. Today's Nursery Rhyme is Hey Diddle Diddle.

Both my girls love this nursery rhyme which may date back to the 16th century. It is probably a little rhyme about constellations. The cat is Leo, the fiddle is Lyra, the cow is Taurus, the little dog is Canis Minor, Apollos bowl is the dish and the Big Dipper looks like a gigantic spoon. In Britain, these particular constellations can be seen in the vicinity of the Moon around April/May time. We shall have to look out for them next year.

Hey Diddle Diddle

Hey Diddle Diddle

Hey, diddle, diddle,

The cat and the fiddle,

The cow jumped over the moon;

The little dog laughed To see such fun,

And the dish ran away with the spoon.

You can find a version of the rhyme here

Some activities to try before singing

The activities that I have chosen today are for children aged between two to six years old

I often use sensory bins with my very young English Learners. They do have to be quick to make and easily portable as I work in variety of different schools and play centres. Here is a simple one using the key words in the rhyme. First I put in coloured blue rice, some glitter and a neon moon and some neon stars to represent the night sky. I then added a toy cat, a dog and a fiddle. Next I put in a variety of bowls (or dishes) and spoons for some sensory fun. When I introduce it to the children I make a big deal out of what could be in the box. I give it a shake and ask children what could be inside. I then put my ear to it and ask the children to listen. "What can you hear?" I would then moo and ask "what is it?", repeating this with the cat and the dog. I would do the action of playing  the fiddle and eating with the bowl and spoon. When all the objects are out of the sensory bin I would play a variety of games to help the children learn the words.

Hey Diddle, Diddle sensory bin
Hey Diddle, Diddle sensory bin

Miming is a fun and physical way to revise the words. I asked the children to think of mimes and together we came up with these:

a cat: pretend to lick the back of your hand

a fiddle: play an imaginary fiddle

a cow: pretend to milk a cow

a dog: pant with your tongue sticking out and hold your hands up representing paws

moon: curl your outstretched arms to make a half moon/semi circle shape

a bowl and spoon: mime eating

I then hid the items in the sensory bin and ask individual children to find them. "Where is the cat?" "Yes, there it is!"

After that I told the little story in the rhyme using the items in the sensory bin as prompts. "One day a cat played on his fiddle and the cow jumped over the moon!" I Cupped my hand over my mouth and laughed out loud "The dog laughed because it was so funny. Do you know what the dish and spoon did? They ran away! I wonder if they were scared".


Singing the nursery rhyme

Next, I sang the rhyme. I don't often use CD's or downloads in the classroom as the music is too fast. Don't be afraid to use your own voice. We sang it a couple of times and encouraged the children to tap their knees to the beat of the music and to join in when they could. We gradually introduced some actions for the rhyme.


Hey, diddle, diddle: play an imaginary fiddle

The cat and the fiddle,

The cow jumped over the moon; move hand and arm up high in the air then down again the other side of your body

The little dog laughed To see such fun, cup hand over mouth

And the dish ran away with the spoon. use arms in running action/run on the spot


Some activities to try after singing the nursery rhyme

Free Play with the sensory bin. Allow the children to play in the sensory bin and play alongside them giving a running commentary on what they are doing. "You're filling the dish up. There is a star on top. Ooops, the rice spilt on the floor!"

free play with the rice sensory bin
free play with the rice sensory bin

We didn't have time this session, but you could try some physical activities. Depending on the size of your class and the space available, you could set up an obstacle course. Have the children crawl under and over chairs and cushions and run around the room or do little or big jumps on your signal. I made a really simple one with my three year old in the living room. While we were singing, we jumped over a ball (the moon) and then ran around the room holding our bowls and spoons. Simple but fun!


My six year old loves skipping. This rhyme makes a fabulous skipping rope song. If you have long ropes, put the children in threes, two turning and one jumping over the rope. On "the dish ran away with the spoon", the skipper runs out of the rope and around the back of one the rope turners.

Have you tried parachute games with your young English learners? They adore it! Put the cow on the parachute and encourage the children to make the cow do little jumps at first and then see if they can make it jump really high. Can it jump as high as the moon, I wonder?

Play dough We simply can't miss out playdough as a way to re-use the vocabulary. Why not set-up a little invitation to play with black and orange play dough, a dog, a cat and a cow animal cutters, some spoons and some dishes, some neon moons and stars? Play alongside your children and if you can, give a running commentary on what they are doing "You have chosen the black. I wonder what you are going to make. You have made a cat with big eyes!"

If your children are a little bit older or bilingual (with English as their first language) try re-writing the rhyme together.

For example:

Hey huddle, muddle, the cat sat in a  _________________

The cow jumped over the chair

The little dog cried to see such ________________

And the dish ran away with the  ___________________

Have fun with some of these ideas and we shall see you tomorrow as we delve deeper into the land of Nursery rhymes.

Write a comment

Comments: 2
  • #1

    Emma Edwards (Wednesday, 12 November 2014 20:49)

    Fantastic activity. Love the blue rice. I want a go!

  • #2

    Polly (Wednesday, 12 November 2014 22:41)

    Thank-you Emma. My girls have been playing with it all day!