SPRING HILL — Little Bo Peep, three little kittens, and multiple Humpty Dumpties, Little Boy Blues and other nursery rhyme characters paraded through Challenger K-8 School of Science and Mathematics recently.
The characters were Margie Yurtinus' and Joanna Mullins' kindergarteners celebrating familiar stories that were new to them.
"They're doing their rhyming stories, and they all got to dress up today," said eighth-grader Morgan Selby, 13, who spends one of her electives as a student assistant in Yurtinus' classroom.
Morgan, an aspiring teacher who said she loves working with little kids, stayed behind to make sure snacks of fruit, crackers, pie and mouse-decorated cupcakes were ready for the touring children's return.
The children visited the school's office and various classrooms to show off their costumes and recitation skills. Yurtinus invited older children to join in — if they could remember the rhymes.
Mullins said dressing up is fun and engaging for the children, and it helps them relax. But there is more to it.
"Rhyming and repetition are very important to the beginning stages of reading," she said.
Parent Kelli Bowerfind said the children had to remember the nursery rhyme that matches their dress-up character.
Her daughter Ashley Bowerfind, 5, was dressed as one of the three little kittens.
She said, "Kittens are my favorite animals." That is not to say that The Three Little Kittens is her favorite rhyme. She likes Hickory, Dickory, Dock, she said, "because I like the mouse in it."
Ashley's classmate Sophia Cook, 5, masqueraded as Humpty Dumpty. She enjoyed the nursery parade, she said, "Because you get to see people and you get to go to different classrooms and see your sister, and if you see friends, you get to say, 'Hi.' "
Sophia's mother, Rebecca Cook, appreciated what Yurtinus tries to do with activities like this.
"I think it's great how she incorporates the nursery rhymes and getting dressed up," she said. "I think it instills the nursery rhyme a little bit better."
Cook said there's more to the activity than just memorizing the poems; it helps the children feel like a part of the school.
"They're new and they're young, and it's a big school," she said.