Friday, January 11, 2013

Jamaican Time Rhyme

When Johnny was one, he learn to suck he thumb,
Thumb Tilda, thumb Tilda, half past one.

When Johnny was two, he learn to clean he shoe,
Shoes Tilda, shoes Tilda, half past two.

When Johnny was three, he learn to climb mango tree,
Tree Tilda, tree Tilda, half past three.

When Johnny was four, he learn to shut de door,
Door Tilda, door Tilda, half past four.

When Johnny was five, he learn to dig an' dive,
Dive Tilda, dive Tilda, half past five,

When Johnny was six, he learn to pick up sticks,
Sticks Tilda, sticks Tilda, half past six.

When Johnny was seven, he fly up to heaven,
Heaven Tilda, heaven Tilda, half past seven.

When Johnny was eight, he learn to shut de gate,
Gate Tilda, gate Tilda, half past eight.

When Johnny was nine, he learn to feed de swine,
Swine Tilda, swine Tilda, half past nine.

When Johnny was ten, he learn to feed de hen, 
Hen Tilda, hen Tilda half past ten.


This mesmerizing little piece comes from A Caribean Counting Book by Faustin Charles and Robertan Arenson.  We've done it two ways, and enjoyed them both thoroughly.

Simple Counting

When we first came accross this poem, my two-year-old daughter was just learning the basics of counting.  As I read the rhyme, I illustrated it by holding up my fingers, starting with my thumb, and dancing them in the are to the rhythm of the syllables.  She was soon holding up her little fingers, connecting the number names with the concepts they represent through tactile means.

The inability to do math without fingers is sometimes lamented in older elementary children.  However, as a former physics teacher, I'm much more disturbed by high school students who cannnot do math on their fingers.  There's nothing wrong with counting on your fingers until you're proficient enough that it's inefficient anyway.  Well, that's my opinion.

Telling time

My four-year-old son was already fairly comfortable with counting.   I try to make a point of having a an old fashioned clock with hands in the house when I can, and he had become interested in the clock on our wall six months or so before.  I taught him that when the longer hand was on the twelve he could look at the shorter hand to tell "the o'clock".  He'd watch the clock, just waiting for a chance to tell us what time it was with accuarcy.

This rhyme presented the perfect opportunity to add to his time-telling prowess.  I pulled out our trusty Melissa and Doug clock puzzle. We reviewed how to know when it was an "o'clock time, reviewing an establised skill before moving to the new one.  Then I moved the long hand to the six, and announced that this was the half-past position.  I then asked him to place the small hand on the one.  As we progressed through the poem, he eagerly moved the hour hand around the face of the clock.


As I read through the rhyme, I stop before the number allowing my children to fill in the number that rhymes with the preceding rhyme.  "Shoes Tilda, shoes Tilda, half past ____."  They enjoy filling in the "two" that rhymes with shoe, and sharpen the phonological awareness that reading experts say is so important.

The rhyme ends with ten, but the clock does not.  My son agrees with the clock, so we keep going and my children to generate the needed tasks for Johnny that rhyme with eleven and twelve.  

I hope you enjoy as much as we do!

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