To be a participant in the telling of a nursery rhyme, story, poem or a song, the child has had to remember the word order and be capable of joining in appropriately. This demands engagement, memory training doing something enjoyable, repetition, cloze procedure by default, filling in gaps, having fun changing the words. In other words, playing with language.
Song and poetry also embed aspects of history or other cultural activities, so can serve multiple purposes.
Given the ease with which text can be scanned into digital format and be presented on interactive whiteboards (IWB), or shown through visualisers, how often are they used to allow rhyme, poetry, song words to be shared, as guided or shared reading activity? With the current emphasis on phonics, surely playing with rhyme is a natural addition to activity, putting the phonics into practice? To me, this approach was another form of collective guided reading, with potential for an end product in performance.
Perhaps we should explore the holistic nature of learning within this scenario. The words of a known song are shared with children, orally, to engage their interest then shown on the IWB to be explored line by line, gradually building to the whole, exploring the more difficult words as they progress. Is this a music lesson supporting reading, or is it a reading lesson supporting music? Does it really matter and has such a degree of separation allowed pressure to be put on the available time for learning? Should we not be looking at the potential for every learning opportunity to support many subject areas? If cross-curricular learning is to mean anything, consider the potential of every subject to support spoken, read and written language, through cooperative and collaborative activity.
Poetry can allow for complete stories to be told in a few lines. Each line is capable of expansion later, if the poem is considered as a piece of first draft writing, with each line being the essence of a developing paragraph. They are capable of being easily redrafted line by line, especially if written on computer, with the possibility of publication at the end of the process.
Children are at the heart of the learning process and should be developing the capability of seeing the whole as a series of parts, in the best tradition of project management, so that they can replicate the process for themselves at a later stage. The processes of production have equal importance with the end product.
Have a look at the work of Iona and Peter Opie between 1950 and 2000 on folklore, nursery rhymes and poetry. A treasure trove of background information.