Old Mother Goose,
When she wanted to wander,
Would ride through the air
On a very fine gander.
Jack's mother came in,
And caught the goose soon,
And mounting its back,
Flew up to the moon.
The familiar figure of Mother Goose is an imaginary author of a collection of fairy tales and nursery rhymes which are often published as Mother Goose Rhymes. As a character, she appears in one "nursery rhyme". A Christmas pantomime called Mother Goose is often performed in the United Kingdom. The so-called "Mother Goose" rhymes and stories have formed the basis for many classic British pantomimes. Mother Goose is generally depicted in literature and book illustration as an elderly country woman in a tall hat and shawl, a costume identical to the peasant costume worn in Wales in the early 20th century, but is sometimes depicted as a goose (usually wearing a bonnet).
Tips for Celebrating:
- Get several editions of Mother Goose Rhymes and compare how different illustrators have depicted the same characters. Fine artists all have their own ways of illustrating the rhymes. Of particular note are the following (though some are old editions, reprints are readily available): Randolph Caldecott (most drawn 1880- 1886), Walter Crane (1877 & 1879), Raymond Briggs (1966), Marguerite de Angeli (1954), W. W. Denslow (1901), Roger Duvoisin (1936), Kate Greenaway (1881 & c1990), Lois Lenski (1927), Helen Oxenbury (1975), Maud & Miska Petersham (1945), Alice & Martin Provensen (1976), Peter Spier (1967), Arthur Rackham (1913), Jessie Wilcox Smith (1914), Gustaf Tenggren (1940), Tasha Tudor (1944).
- Have small groups act out skits of different rhymes (with only a few minutes to put together their acts). A variation on this is to give each group the rhyme to act out in pantomime, and have the other groups guess which rhyme is being acted.
- Another variation on acting out the rhymes is to play traditional Charades, with nursery rhymes as the focus.
- Search out the Mother Goose rhymes which are set to music and have a Mother Goose Songfest.
- Seek out Mother Goose Rhymes which have fingerplay actions, and teach them to the children. (The single largest source of fingerplays is Children's Counting-Out Rhymes, Fingerplays, Jump-Rope and Bounce-Ball Chants and Other Rhythms: A Comprehensive English-Language Reference by Gloria T. Delamar (McFarland Pub.)
- Have participants cook together to make a simple recipe associated with a Mother Goose rhyme. Ie. "Curds and Whey," associated with Little Miss Muffet is an old term for cottage cheese; "Pease Porridge" is thick pea soup. A surprisingly tasty snack is to put pea soup as a spread (directly from the can with no liquid added) on crackers.
- With the right age group, introduce the "rhythm and patter" of a nursery rhyme for writers to imitate in creating their own verses. Quite aside from Mother Goose Day, this is a useful device for teaching an understanding of the patterns of poetry. This technique has been used with both children and adults.
- Have a simple line-by-line recitation of rhymes, with participants taking turns giving the next line. Stay with the better-known rhymes so no one will be embarrassed.
- The most basic way to celebrate is to read aloud from an attractively-illustrated edition of Mother Goose rhymes.