Appalachia Rhymes

One Two Buckle My Shoe

One two buckle my shoe childrens rhyme

Remember learning the counting rhyme that starts 1…2…buckle my shoe? The rhyme is believed to have originated in England. The website Nursery Rhymes – Lyrics, Origins, and History indicates the original version-especially the first few lines-may have been directly connected to lacemaking.

As with many old rhymes, there are several version to be found. The following is the version I learned as a child.

One, two, buckle my shoe.
Three, four, open the door.
Five, six, pick up the sticks.
Seven, eight, lay them straight.
Nine, ten, do it again!

One, two, buckle my shoe.
Three, four, open the door.
Five, six, pick up the sticks.
Seven, eight, lay them straight.
Nine, ten, big fat hen!

The Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore shares the following versions.

Robeson County 1922

One, two, buckle my shoe;
Three, four, shut the door;
Five, six pick up sticks;
Seven, eight, lay’em straight;
Nine, ten a good fat hen;
Eleven, twelve, roast her well;
Thirteen, fourteen, girls a-courtin’;
Fifteen, sixteen, girls a-fixin’;
Seventeen, eighteen, girls a-waitin’;
Nineteen, twenty, girls aplenty.

Stanly County no date given

One, two, buckle my shoe;
Three, four, shut the door;
Five, six, pick up sticks;
Seven, eight, lay them straight;
Nine ten, big fat hen;
Eleven, twelve, who’s in the dell?
Thirteen, fourteen, girls all courtin’;
Fifteen, sixteen, maids in the kitchen;
Seventeen, eighteen, girls are waitin’;
Nineteen twenty, my plate’s empty.

No place or date given.

One, two, buckle my shoe;
Three, four, close the door;
Five, six, pick up sticks;
Seven, eight, lay them straight;
Nine, ten, big fat hen;
Eleven, twelve, dig and delve;
Thirteen, fourteen, gents a-courtin’;
Fifteen, sixteen, maids in the kitchen;
Seventeen, eighteen, ladies a-waitin’;
Nineteen, twenty, goodies aplenty.


Many of us learned the rhyme One Two Buckle My Shoe as we learned to count-I wonder if kids today still say it?


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  • Reply
    April 1, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    I’d never heard of that nursery rhyme before. Sounds fun. This is what I teach my Junior classes:
    One, two, three, four, five,
    Once I caught a fish alive,
    six, seven, eight, nine, ten,
    Then I let it go again.
    Why did you let it go?
    Because it bit my finger so.
    Which finger did it bite?
    This little finger on the right.

  • Reply
    March 29, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    I’m remember it as “little red hen” but I could be confusing it with the little hen in the “cut-cut-cu-dackit” song, which also involved counting.

  • Reply
    March 28, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    I learned the ‘big fat hen’ version, and heard or read the past 10 verses only occasionally.When I was reciting it to my 4 and 6 yr old granddaughters, I was pleased they knew it and said it with me.

  • Reply
    jane bolden
    March 28, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    We say shut the door. Just noticed the difference.

  • Reply
    jane bolden
    March 28, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    My four grandchildren and I have have recited the big fat hen version many, many times.(passed down from my mother)

  • Reply
    March 28, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    I haven’t heard that from my granddaughter, so maybe it’s not used as much. She is seven. However, there are many versions as you have specified, but I never heard them go above ten. That was very interesting!

  • Reply
    March 28, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    What I recall from NW PA, was the one with “shut the door” and I don’t remember going higher than ten, because at ten we “did it again” which meant we started over.
    I doubt many children do this nowadays because WAYYY too many children are electronics-bound with all the simple little gems of days gone by passing them totally by. It makes me wonder what they’re going to be like when they’re grown and have to deal with humans face-to-face, or what they’ll do when electronic systems fail, because we know, one day everything will change and be simple again because that cycle has happened in the world over and over again on Planet Earth through the centuries.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    March 28, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    I learned the last version presented but ended with “my plate’s empty”. We did it as a way of counting fingers and toes and acted it out as we went. The person who got the biggest laugh for their “my plate’s empty” face was the de facto winner.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    March 28, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    In my big book of nursery rhymes, games etc. etc…by Robert Ford it says the divination (belomany) was current in all countries and back in time as far as maybe the Romans…
    All over Brintain and America he lists the most familiar…
    One, two, buckle my shoe, Three, four, open the door, Five six, pick up the sticks, Seven, eight, lay them straight, Nine, ten, a good fat hen, Eleven, twel’ bake it well, Thirteen, fourteen, maids a -courting, Fifteen, sixteen, maids a-kissing, Seventeen, eighteen, maids a-waiting, Nineteen, twenty, my stomach’s empty. I won’t list them here, although very interesting in the words of that particular country.
    He goes on to list, Germany, French, Italy,Scotland, etc. Also stated that it is found in every folk-lore of almost every country in the world, with similar formulas…He also quotes an authority on language and customs of the Eastern Gypsies that sets it against a Romany stanza and used as a spell…oooohhhh! I won’t write it here for fear of putting a spell on my computer that has been roaring and acting crazy all morning…Yes, I have got to buy me a new one!
    We said the one that included, “shut the door”, I think because, it drove folks around our house crazy to leave the screen door wide open. Even if it did have that big “cotton boll” tied to it to help keep the flies away…chortle,
    Thanks Tipper, I love nursery rhymes…and this was very interesting and I enjoyed all the comments.

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    March 28, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    Oh Tipper, how you do stir our memories. Wonder if little girls still jump rope a school, but I guess I pod has taken this pleasure away from children. I love to recite these rhymes. I hope I keep my memories of special times like those.I know now why Mother always encouraged me to make good memories, she knew I’m sure that these pleasure would be lost to many children.

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    March 28, 2014 at 11:28 am

    now you’ve made me feel OLD! I learned the oldest version 🙂

  • Reply
    Deb Wright
    March 28, 2014 at 11:19 am

    We played jump rope to the rhyme. When we got to ten, big fat hen we would do hots, spinning the jump rope extra fast.

  • Reply
    C. Ron Perry, Sr.
    March 28, 2014 at 10:26 am

    In Gaston County, NC we learned the one from Stanley County. I remember doing that many times.
    We also did
    One potato, two potato
    three potato, four
    five potato, six potato
    seven potato, more…

  • Reply
    March 28, 2014 at 8:41 am

    I’ve never heard seven, eight, lay them straight. We were taught to say seven, eight, shut the gate and never counted past ten.

  • Reply
    Judy Mincey
    March 28, 2014 at 8:39 am

    Very interesting. I never heard any numbers above 10. Thanks for broadening my world.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    March 28, 2014 at 8:29 am

    St Lucie County, FL
    One, two buckle my shoe
    Three, four shut the door
    Five, six pick up sticks
    Seven, Eight lay them straight
    Nine, Ten Big fat hen

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    March 28, 2014 at 8:09 am

    I heard it the first way, the one you learned. I remember hearing it somewhere but it was not something I heard a lot.
    It is really interesting how things like these rhymes evolve to fit the needs of the area or people.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    March 28, 2014 at 7:13 am

    The rhyme was used in my part of Appalachia to help children (including me at an early age!) to learn to count. It was a fun rhyme and easily memorized, and usually produced a laugh from both the child and the one teaching the rhyme as the lines were remembered. I’ve used it with my great grandchildren when I am with them, but I don’t really know if the children’s parents (my grandchildren) pursue the rhyme when my great grands are not with me! I’ll try to check that out!

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