Like many nursery rhymes Mary Mary Quite Contrary has it’s roots deep in English history. I believe that it actually alludes to Mary Tudor who was contrary because she changed the English church from Protestant back to Catholic. However, over the years that connotation has definitely faded, and when we sing it today, it is about a little girl tending her pretty, magical garden. A much more appropriate and child friendly image!
Mary Mary Quite Contrary Lyrics
Mary , Mary, quite contrary!
How does your garden grow?
With cockle shells,
And silver bells,
And pretty maids all in a row!
Musical Pretend Play Game
What you need to play:
- A puppet or / rag doll or something similar to be your Mary
- Small watering can or little teapot
- Some pretty shells
- Some silver bells
- Flower petals
Alternatively you can of course imagine all of these things and the child can pretend to be Mary!
How to play:
Mary (in this case a puppet) explains that she is very busy trying to plant her magic garden and that she needs some help from the children. She then goes off to finish all her jobs. When she is gone you suggest that while she is away, the children make a pretty garden for her as a surprise, and you will tell her it was done by magic fairies!
The children are delighted by this plan and can’t wait for her to return and show her surprise and joy! While she is watering her lovely garden you all sing the song together! You can sing this several times, so that everyone has a go at both holding the puppet and making the garden. It is a very simple, sweet activity that the children thoroughly engage with.