Nursery Rhymes Around the World

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Image by Prawny from Pixabay

What songs did your parents sing to you? Liz Waid and Ryan Geertsma share children’s songs and rhymes from around the world.

Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2 

And I’m Ryan Geertsma. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

A mother sits and rocks her baby to sleep. She sings quietly. She wants the baby to fall asleep. She sings this song about a cradle – a small bed for a baby:

Voice 3 

Rock-a-bye baby in the tree top.
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock.
When the branch breaks, the cradle will fall.
And down will come baby, cradle and all.

Click here to follow along on YouTube

Voice 2 

Rock-a-bye Baby is a rhyming song from England. The sentences rhyme – they end with the same sounds like ‘fall’ and ‘all’. Rhyming songs and poems are very popular all around the world. Parents often sing them to young children. And children sing them in nursery school – when they are only three or four years old. Today’s Spotlight is on nursery rhymes around the world.

Voice 1 

Most countries have nursery rhymes. People sing nursery rhymes like a song. Or sometimes they say nursery rhymes like a poem. Nursery rhymes are fun for both adults and children. But nursery rhymes also have other purposes.

Voice 2 

There are different kinds of nursery rhymes. Some nursery rhymes are for helping a child to fall asleep. “Rock-a-bye Baby” is one of these. Other nursery rhymes are educational. They teach children about cultural traditions or about good behavior. Some nursery rhymes are games – they include movements. The children must do these movements with their hands or bodies.

Voice 1 

Let’s listen to some different kinds of nursery rhymes from around the world. This first nursery rhyme is from Uganda in East Africa:

Voice 4

Keep keep keep your health
Eat good food!
Milk and eggs, fish and beans
Are excellent for you.
Comb comb comb your hair
Do not forget your teeth!
Brush brush brush your teeth
Clean up all those germs!

child brushing teeth
Child brushing teeth; Image by Rajesh Balouria from Pixabay
Voice 2 

This nursery rhyme teaches children about healthy food. And it teaches children to take care of their bodies. Because it has rhyming sounds, this song is easy to remember! Parents and teachers often use songs to teach lessons. Songs can help children to remember important things – like cleaning their teeth.

Voice 1 

The next nursery rhyme also uses rhyming to teach. This poem is from China. It teaches about the traditional customs of a very important Chinese holiday. It is called ‘Chinese New Year’:

Voice 5

You will find whenever the New Year comes
the Kitchen God will want some plums.
The girls will want some flowers new;
The boys will want firecrackers, too.
A new soft hat will please Papa
And a sugar cake for dear Mama.

Voice 2 

This nursery rhyme teaches children about the special customs of the Chinese New Year holiday. For example, families celebrate Chinese New Year with special food. The nursery rhyme also teaches children to share with their family members. By repeating this rhyme, children will remember their traditional customs.

Voice 1 

Many cultures also have nursery rhymes to teach children about right and wrong actions. Here is a nursery rhyme from Thailand. It is named after a large fruit. The jackfruit has a hard, green skin. But inside, it has soft, yellow fruit around big seeds:

Voice 6

Jum-Jee Jackfruit Seed
Those who have done good deeds
Can eat all the food.
Those who tell lies
Must eat old dead dog!

jackfruit tree
Jackfruit; Image by Dean Moriarty from Pixabay
Voice 2 

This nursery rhyme teaches children to tell the truth. It explains that people who tell the truth will get good things. But people who do not tell the truth will not get good things.

Voice 1 

There are two more interesting things about this nursery rhyme. One is that it uses words that are not real! The beginning words – “Jum-Jee” – do not mean anything. These are just words that sound fun. They rhyme to make the song sound good. Many nursery rhymes have these kinds of words in them.

Voice 2 

The Jum-Jee nursery rhyme is also a game. While the children sing it, they sit in a circle. They all put their hands into the middle. Then, one child counts the other children’s fingers while they sing together. When the song is finished, the child stops counting. The person with the finger last counted must pull their hand away. The song continues until only one child has a hand left in the middle of the circle.

Voice 1 

Many other nursery rhymes can also be used for games. Some have special motions for the children to do. They sing and move parts of their bodies at the same time. Listen to this nursery rhyme from Switzerland in Europe. It is a rhyme about a child named Joggeli riding a horse. Imagine how children would move while saying it.

Voice 7

Joggeli, can you ride?
Yes, yes, yes.
Have you got one leg each side?
Yes, yes, yes.
Did you give the horse some hay?
Yes, yes, yes.
Did you water it today?
Nay, nay, nay.
So let’s ride to town
And go three times around.
But then the horse starts bucking
And Joggeli falls down down down.

Voice 2 

Nursery rhymes can teach many things! They can teach children about being healthy and behaving well. They also teach about traditional culture. Nursery rhymes often use language in a fun way. And they can be used for movements or games. But one of the most important things about nursery rhymes is that they help create relationships.

Voice 1 

Nursery rhymes help children create friendships with each other. They help teachers to give good lessons. And they also help create closeness between a child and her parent. Nursery rhymes are a way for parents to teach important lessons.

Voice 2 

Lastly, parents use nursery rhymes to put their children to sleep – like the first rhyme we heard.  The last nursery rhyme is also a song from a parent to his child. The child is named Iro. This rhyme is from the Mina language of Benin, in West Africa. It shows the most important lesson that a parent can teach a child: that her mother and father love her.

Voice 8

My Iro, what am I going to give you?
My Iro, what am I going to give you?
I have nothing to give you
I am going to pray for you.
Your life will be happy for all time.

parents and a child
Image by rbalouria from Pixabay
Voice 1 

What is your favorite nursery rhyme? Does your culture teach any good lessons with children’s songs? You can leave your comments on our website or email us at

Voice 2 

The writer and producer of this program was Rena Dam. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at This program is called, ‘Nursery Rhymes Around the World’.

Voice 1 

You can also find us on Facebook – just search for spotlightradio. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Visit us on YouTube. Or download our app for Android or Apple devices.


What is your favorite nursery rhyme? Did your parents sing nursery rhymes to you?

Join the discussion

  • Mom it’s time is coming
    She comes after a little
    She brings toys and things
    She brings in her a bag
    duck and goose
    They say waak waak waaaak

  • Sleep, baby
    Sleep, baby
    Pigeons take you
    Go, pigeons
    Not the longest
    Greetings to the baby Linate
    Sleep, baby

  • I love the nursery rhyme :
    Flying seagull Flying Flying
    By his wings and clap clap
    Seagull seagull ..
    the song is all good members of my childhood.

  • We have in my country a many types of nursery : after a childbirth , and preschool age . I did not went to nursery in pre school age. we have different strategies number one teach the religion, number two teach the basic of culture.

  • When i was reading this topic I remember the time when I was a grade 1 student. It reminds me the song “row your boat” and “twinkle twinkle little star”. That’s songs sang every morning before we begin our class.

  • Today the theme of program is very beautiful and easy vocabulary I so happy almost words clearly and simple , I don’t have a rhyme but she is beautiful have a child rhyme ✅

  • Those are all songs that my mother and grandmother sang to me when I was a child, and I remember enjoying them all very much. When I was younger, my grandmother took care of me almost entirely when my parents had to go to work to make money. Grandma used to take me out to play with other children my age in the neighborhood on a regular basis. We also enjoy listening to rhymes together. The first rhyme that I learned by heart is called “Thong Bom,” followed by “Chi chi chanh chanh,” and so on. Those songs are brief, rhythmic, and simple to remember. And I’ve noticedthat any rhymes are also similar to it.
    Most likely, this is why Radii has been able to recall all of them to this day. It’s a lot of fun to singthe rhymes with your friends while playing poly special games. I had a wonderful childhood, and whenever I think back on it, I get a nostalgic feeling. I believe that if I had a the in my bathroom, I wouldhave such wonderful things

  • “Dung dang dung de” is my favorite nursery rhyme and for any child. Because it is very simple and closet as well as naive with any child. This is a poem and a game in order to bring people together. With the content of the poem, we can feel this.

  • actually, my favorite nursery rhyme are Ba oi Ba, Mot con Vit ,… because they are happy songs. Currently, i still sing for many children and teach them those songs.

  • O small chick
    Why are you confused ?
    Who create feather for you ?
    Tell me this truth
    He is allah . He is allah
    How great is allah . How great is allah

  • I was singing creazy nursery rhymes just for play and have fun

    Bogi and Tamtam got in the class
    They did things that none did before!
    Mom get up to pray asr
    Before dad reach from cairo
    Beeeb beeeeeb my dad has reach
    3 spoones on the table
    One is crying
    One is doing like a bell
    And the other one is saying mama! I want spaggitty
    spaggitty is …….

    That is all what I remember from my childhood.

  • I believe that, nursery rhymes are important to teach children a lot of good things in a fun and interesting way. My mother sang me two different nursery rhymes, one of them is about teaching me good things and another one to help me fall asleep. I do not remember them, but I feel the motion of the words until now. My culture focuses on children very much and how to teach them good things. For example, the following link to the youtube video is about teaching children the five senses. The language of the video is Arabic, but I think you can understand the movement of the teacher and children.

  • Mama is coming
    coming after a while
    bringing toys and stuff
    She brought a bag with her
    containing a goose and a duck
    saying WAKWAK WAKWAK.
    This Nursery rhymes for calm down a crying baby while his mother brings gifts.

  • my parents were divorced I lived with the most beautiful person in the world my grandmother I know a nursery rhyme but I don’t like it so much.

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