Jack and Jill is one of the more famous nursery rhymes that kids can recite at an early age, but most people don’t think much of it beyond the rhyme. However, you can use the poem as a catalyst for educational activities as well as for creative and active play. Whether toddlers or pre-teens, plan activities with a Jack and Jill theme that will get your kids moving, learning and critically thinking.
Reading Jack and Jill
Read the classic Jack and Jill nursery rhyme to your kids, which you can find in almost any edition of a Mother Goose nursery rhyme book. Ideally, choose a book that includes the second verse, which tells a more complete story, including Jack running to someone who wraps up his head. Some versions also have a third verse as well. You could also read other children’s books to your kids that have a Jack and Jill theme, such as “Jack and Jill,” by Lynn Salem, ideal for toddlers and preschoolers. In the story, Jill goes back up the hill after Jack falls down to get make him a get-well treat.
Arts and Crafts
Help your kids create paper Jack and Jill stick figures, which they can glue to craft sticks. You can then create a hill from salt dough, which you can make by combining two parts flour with one part each of salt and lukewarm water. Have your kids shape the dough into a small hill, and then use green paint to make it a grassy hill. Let the hill dry and harden overnight. You can also use leftover dough to shape a well at the top of the hill. Another idea is to create a craft-stick well by gluing craft sticks to a small cardboard tube. Cut and bend a small piece of cardboard into a triangle roof and glue craft sticks to it, then use two supporting craft sticks to connect the well and roof together.
Pair up the kids, ideally into boy and girl teams and give each team a bucket. Fill up an inflatable pool with water, and then give each team a large plastic bin. The teams must race to the pool, fill up their buckets and race back to pour it into their bins. The first team to fill their bins to the top wins. For another game, assign one child to be Jill and the other to be Jack, on opposite sides of the yard. All the other kids are chasers in the middle. Jack and Jill must try to get to another part of the yard together without the chasers tagging them. If tagged they must freeze until the other can tag them free. There is also a magic bucket in the middle of the yard and if they can get to it at the same time, they are automatically safe.
Encourage older kids to write the rest of Jack and Jill’s story. Why were they going up that hill for water in the first place? What happened after they fell down. Have the kids come up with a creative story, and then have them share their stories with each other. Another idea is to have the kids write a modern-day version of the Jack and Jill story. Since modern kids wouldn’t need to go to a well to fetch water, what would Jack and Jill be going up a hill for in modern times? Give them prompts if they are stuck, such as going to a concert in a park or going up the hill for sledding.