Collaborative idea generation for ELT

Humpty Dumpty

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.

All the King’s horses and all the King’s men,

Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

What would you do with this verse in your classroom? You can make any assumptions you like about the context it is used in. Post your ideas in the comments below. All of the formatting is copied from the original text.

The Wikipedia page about the rhyme is here.

Click here to find out the idea behind this blog.

Humpty DumptyThis image of Humpty Dumpty was taken from the geograph project (another prompt on this blog), via Wikimedia Commons.

PS I was inspired to add this as a prompt because I was reading Jasper Fforde‘s very funny The Big Over Easy.

Comments on: "Humpty Dumpty" (12)

  1. Hmmm…

    1) Play with vocabulary like tragedy, disaster, calamity, catastrophe, misfortune, heartbreak

    2) Have them talk about such tragedies… what is behind the word, and what makes something a tragedy, or just a non-important accident.

    3) Get students to share their own favorite poetry— maybe translate it into english

    Love these infinite ideas… 🙂

  2. I use it on CELTA courses as per Adrian Underhill’s suggestion in Sounds Foundations. It’s good for showing stress and timing. There is actually quite a lot written about the use of nursery rhymes and learning language on the internet

    • Sue Annan said:

      I use it with classes to help them understand why they have listening skill problems. It is a good example of what is NOT stressed and leads to a look at the schwa in practice.

  3. Malcolm said:

    Off the top of my head:

    a) As a lead in for a modals of ability lesson for what all the King’s men can/can’t do. ‘They can’t put Humpty together again.’ ‘They manage to ride their horses without having a great fall.’ ‘They can cook a yummy omelette.’

    b) For more advanced students, a discussion on nursery rhymes; what did they like when they were kids? Where do nursery rhymes come from? What are the morals behind famous nursery rhymes?

    c) A roleplay assigning blame/responsibility: Humpty tries to sue the makers of the wall, and the King’s men for medical incompetence; the latter two must deny responsibility and blame each other (or Humpty!). This could then lead into a discussion on suing people, whether it’s becoming more common in your country, what people think about it, etc.

  4. Choose some of the words and have students make rhyming lists. Then challenge your students to adapt the nursery rhyme using some of the words they came up with.

    Or, have students practise the rhyme with different accents: American, Australian, British…

  5. No thoughts to add as yet – however, there’s a great rock version of the song here, that might spark a few ideas off:

    Humpty Dumpty

  6. Leannepri said:

    Get students to continue the rhyme – what happens next. Or get them to write a verse or two, that could go before this one – how did he end up on the wall. though this doesn’t have to be a rhyme, but could just be a story.

  7. Get the students to treat it as a news story. They could create a spoken bulletin or written piece, presenting it as a semi-serious event from today’s news. Different nursery rhymes could be given to different groups, so a whole Far Far Away news paper front page or news programme could be created.

  8. mosaad shehata said:

    The rhyme sounds good to practise vowels and intonation.
    Also I use it as a little story so that I can get students to answer questions with where, who, what.
    After that I may use it like speaking lesson by asking students to tell what happened in their language.

  9. Matt Ledding said:

    Nothing new in terms of ideas from me… Just going to mutate Tara and James’ ideas.

    Change wall to “fence”. Unpack meaning of sitting on the fence. realize it no longer rhymes, get ss to come up with alt following lines in groups. Then they rewrite the rest and share.

    With James’ suggestion, I like the idea of putting it in scientific journal format, so that ss use more formal constructions, ie passives, reported speech etc, and stretch a bit from their comfy zone.

  10. […] Humpty Dumpty – lots of infiniteeltideas […]

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