Mary Mary Quite Contrary
Mary, Mary, quite contrary (wag your pointer finger)
How does your garden grow? (shrug shoulders or lift hands palms up while wiggling fingers)
With silver bells (hold hands in fists and extend one thumb)
And cockle shells (extend other thumb)
And pretty maids all in a row! (extend the rest of your fingers)
This is a great little rhyme for letting kids practice their fine motor skills, especially moving their fingers independently. As I have mentioned before, fine motor skills are crucial for kids who are learning to write.
What I like best about this rhyme, though, is its fanciful language. "Contrary" is a word that rarely gets used in daily conversation. Nevertheless, it is a great word for kids to learn. The more words kids know, the easier it will be for them to become proficient readers in the long run. Vocabulary is a strong predictor or future reading success.
Silver bells and cockle shells and pretty maids all in a row require a little more work to explain to kids. I've always thought of the rhyme as describing a pretty bed of flowers surrounded by a border of sea shells. Mother Goose scholars don't entirely agree on the original meaning of this rhyme. Some assessments are quite frightening! I will stick with flowers, myself.