You are here:  home / poetry for children / nonsense rhymes 

Nonsense Rhymes For Kids

Kids love nonsense rhymes and poetry! This is actually pretty fantastic because, apart from being great fun to share, playing around with nonsense rhymes helps develop their language and listening skills. 

On this page you'll find three examples of famous nonsense rhymes for kids plus some info about why nonsense rhymes are important and where they originated.

nonsense songs and stories, nonsense rhymes

Edward Lear is probably the best-known writer (at least in the English language) of nonsense poems for kids and his rhymes are worth hunting out to share with your children.

But there are many other fun nonsense rhymes, some of which are so old that we no longer remember who wrote them or where they came from. Because they're so old and because they were handed down by word-of-mouth, sometimes hundreds of years before being written down, there are loads of variations on these rhymes.

The first nonsense rhyme on this page is a good example. It's called Two Dead Boys and no-one really has any idea where it originated.

It's thought to have been put together from pieces of various rhymes collected from children in playgrounds since the middle of the 19th century. Because of this, there are now a number of versions of it known around the world, each with slightly different words.

The version below is the one I first heard at school in the early 1970s. I think i was older than six but try reciting it to kids aged from about six up. They usually love the ridiculousness of it and it's great for developing their listening comprehension skills and their memories because they often want to learn it by heart.

The two poems that follow it are very famous ones. Jabberwocky was written by Lewis Carroll and On the Ning Nang Nong was written by Spike Milligan. Both of these authors wrote loads of nonsense poems and stories but these are their best-known nonsense rhymes.


Two Dead Boys

One bright day in the middle of the night, 
Two dead men got up to fight. 
Back-to-back they faced one another, 
Drew their swords and shot each other. 
One was blind and the other couldn't see, 
So they chose a dummy for a referee. 
A blind man went to see fair play, 
A dumb man went to shout "hooray!" 
A deaf policeman heard the noise, 
And came and shot the two dead boys. 
A paralysed donkey walking by, 
Kicked the copper in the eye, 
Sent him through a nine inch wall, 
Into a dry ditch and drowned them all. 
If you don't believe this lie is true, 
Ask the blind man -- he saw it too!
 - anonymous

On the Ning Nang Nong

On the Ning Nang Nong
Where the Cows go Bong!
And the monkeys all say BOO!
There's a Nong Nang Ning
Where the trees go Ping!
And the tea pots jibber jabber joo.
On the Nong Ning Nang
All the mice go Clang
And you just can't catch 'em when they do!
So its Ning Nang Nong
Cows go Bong!
Nong Nang Ning
Trees go ping
Nong Ning Nang
The mice go Clang
What a noisy place to belong
Is the Ning Nang Ning Nang Nong!
 - from Silly Verse for Kids by Spike Milligan


'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! and through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

"And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
He chortled in his joy.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

 - from Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll

More About On The Ning Nang Nong

On the Ning Nang Nong was written by Spike Milligan, a British-Irish comedian, writer and actor who spent a lot of time in Australia. Spike died in 2002.

Many years ago, the poem was set to music by a wonderful Australian TV show for children called Playschool and was hugely popular. Below are two YouTube clips which feature the poem. The first is an animation of the Playschool song and the second is Spike Milligan reciting the poem in 1995.

You might also like: