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Counting-Out Rymes for Toes

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Susan from Virginia Beach, Virginia, remembers a toe-counting game from her childhood that goes “This toe tight / this penny white / this toe tizzle / this penny wizzle.” She doesn’t recall the rest and has no idea where it came from. There are many versions of this kind of rhyme, particularly in the traditions of Scandinavia and Germany. Among them are the one that goes “Peedee / peedee loo / loodee whistle / whistle nobble / and great big hobble tobble!” And another that goes “Little Pea / Penny Rou / Judy Whistle / Mary Tossle / and Big Tom Bumble.” Susan remembers another one that involves gently slapping the bottom of the child’s foot: “Shoe the old horse / and shoe the old mare / and let the little colt go bare, bare, bare.” The blog Mama Lisa’s World has a multitude of other versions. Henry Bolton’s 1888 book The Counting-Out Rhymes of Children, which is available in its entirety online, is another good source of these, although some of the rhymes may be offensive to modern readers. This is part of a complete episode.

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