Issue 61: Diddle Diddle Dumpling, My Son John

I learned this game from a colleague on Wednesday, who had learned it from someone else on Tuesday. I taught it to another colleague on Thursday……

Iraqi Jewish kubbeh (wikipedia)

Diddle diddle dumpling, my son John

Went to bed with his trousers on

One shoe off and one shoe on,

Diddle diddle dumpling, my son John.

You can find other versions of the rhyme, download sheet music and read some historical background here: http://www.mothergooseclub.com/rhymes_parent.php?id=153

The words are a traditional nursery rhyme which I have known all my life. The actions were new to me:

Did-dle did-dle dump-ling – pat each knee in time to the syllables LRLRL R

My son John – touch head for “my”, shoulders for “son” and knees for “John”

Went to bed with his – no actions

Trou-sers on – clap on “trou” and “sers”, and then palms out to centre (as though patting a friend’s hands) at “on”. With younger children, we just clapped three times.

One SHOE off and one SHOE on – stamp one foot on SHOE, and the other foot on the other SHOE

Did-dle did-dle dump-ling – as before

My son John – as before

You then choose to omit the words of one or more phrases, but just do the actions. Eventually you perform the whole rhythm using konly the actions and no words.

These action rhymes and songs provide important practise in developing the skills on internalising pulse and melody. Some other examples that I have already posted are

My hat, it has three corners”

Tony Chestnut”

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