"In a Cabin in a Wood" is also know as "Little Cabin in a Wood". It's sung in various languages around the world.

In a Cabin in a Wood - American Children's Songs - The USA - Mama Lisa's World: Children's Songs and Rhymes from Around the World  - Intro Image


Bonnie Tiffer wrote me, "I learned this song in third grade with Miss Agnew at Notre Dame Elementary in San Francisco. I have never heard it any where since that time. At the time the class learned hand movements with each line."

Krista Cobb sent gestures for this rhyme...

The gestures for Little Cabin in the woods are:

- Little cabin in the woods * draw a cabin fingers together in front of face, draw down and outwards making the top of the cabin. /\ draw straight down making the sides of the cabin | |*
- Little man by the window stood. * hand to brow peering around the room*
- Saw a rabbit hopping by *two fingers up (rabbit ears) hopping by*
- Knocking at my door * knock on air door*
- Help me, help me, sir he cried (the way I learned it)* hands flying up and down with help me*
- 'Fore the hunter shoots me dead* gun hand/hands up pointing around the room*
- Little rabbit come inside *hand gesture beckoning rabbit in.*
- Safely we'll abide.* rabbit fingers against chest other hand petting them.


I think it's great how many people wrote in about this song, so I'd like to post the letters I have from people. Here's another:

"For some crazy reason, while searching for song lyrics to some old Burl Ives songs I used to know... I came upon your website... (and I love it, thank you)
Saw the song 'In a Cabin In a Wood'... I'm not sure that's exactly how I learned it... but I do know all the hand motions...

1. Little cabin in the woods
2. Little man by the window stood
3. Saw a rabbit hopping by
4. Frightened half to death
5. Help me! Help me! Help! he said.
6. 'Fore the hunter shoots me dead
7. Come on in the little man said
8. Warm up by the fire.


1. With both hands draw outline of a cabin with forefingers starting with peaked roof and straight down and then fingers in together... for bottom of cabin.
2. Hand over eyes as if shading from sun... or looking out and turning and nodding head from one side to other in beat with music.
3. Two fingers up like rabbit ears... with hopping motion in beat to music... going across from one side to other.
4. Arms crossed over chest, hands clinched in fists...
5. In beat to music, hands still over chest, singing as if out of breath and somewhat heaving with chest forward.
6. Both hands in an impression of a pistol... one behind the other... (to make a shotgun affect)... again... in beat to the music... going from one side to the other.
7. With one eye exaggerated in a wink... and a motion with index finger as come here or come in...
8. Rubbing hands together as in warming your hands.

Then the song is repeated... somewhat like 'Bingo'... leave off the first line and do the motions and sing the 2nd line on... Next round... leave off first and second line, doing motions... and sing 3rd line on... etc, etc.. until no words are sung and entire song is done in hand motions.

Hope this helps... at 55 years old, I've often wondered when I would get to use that knowledge I gained in the first grade. :-) I still sing a lot of those old songs I learned. Evidently I was blessed with a fantastic music program in my grade school... (Woodrow Wilson in Duncan, Oklahoma). At the time I didn't know I was learning so many old folk songs. Now I feel like the only one out here who knows all those words... (and motions) to so many of those songs.

The reason I came to this website was to look up all the words to Buckeye Jim... I kept forgetting one of the verses... I found it and proceeded to get lost in old songs...

So... hope this helps..."

Katie Lowder


Maryandra Wiser wrote:

"We would repeat the song again but we would hum the words for the first line and just do the motions, then sing the rest of the song. Then we would start again, hum the words for the first and second line while doing the motions and then sing the rest of the song. We would keep doing this until we were humming the entire song along with the hand motions. Sometimes we would also go faster and faster with each repetition. So much fun!"


Francois Jordaan wrote:

"My mother used to sing this one in English like this (which follows the meter of the song):

In a cabin in the wood
Little boy by the window stood
Came a rabbit hopping by
Crying as he went

'Help me, help me, help!' he said
'Ere the hunter shoots me dead'

'Little rabbit come to me,
happy we will be.'

'Little boy' can be substituted with 'A big deer', of course."


Linda Smith wrote:

"The version from Girl Scout Camp, circa 1951……….or so. I believe it was a GS camp in Lancaster, PA and may have been called Furnace Hills - or perhaps that's where it was located. It was a LONG time ago. Possibly from Camp Bonnie Brae in the Berkshires in Massachusetts mid '50's.

In a cabin in the wood
Little man by the window stood
Saw a rabbit hopping by
Knocking at the door (or knocking at HIS/MY door).

Help me! Help me! Help me! he cried
'Ere the hunter shoot me dead
Little rabbit come inside
Safely you'll abide (or Safely TO abide..or we'll abide).

It was over half a century ago.

My sister and I got into an argument about the words. She argued, quite fervently, that people don't ABIDE. Turns out, since we were 5 years apart, I being older and therefore RIGHT, we had learned different versions at different camps. Her version may have been learned at Camp Shehaqua, late 50's-early 60''s in the Poconos. Shehaqua was a made up word from various GS conferences located in the Shenandoah Valley, Hazleton and Quakertown, PA.

Game Instructions

Carla Johnson sent these hand gestures for "In a Cabin in a Wood":

"The hand signs are a small square for 'the little cabin in the woods'.
Hand out to the side for a 'little Man'.
Then fingers make a ring around the eye for 'by the window stood'.
'Saw a rabbit hopping by' is two fingers up and a hopping motions.
Knocking motion for 'knocking on my door'.
Throw hands up for 'help me', for 'a hunter shoot me dead' is a Gun like motion,
And 'come inside' is a motioning inside the cabin
And 'safely to abide' is fist on one hand and a petting motion over the fist with the other hand.

I was taught this is Camp Fire Girls eons ago and we were taught to sing it over and over each time not singing the last line and just using the motions until the whole song was just motions."


This is the same song as "Le grand cerf" on the Mama Lisa's World France Page.


Here's the version in the mp3:

Little cabin in the wood,
Little man by the window stood,
Little rabbit hopping by,
Knocking at the door.
"Help me! Help me! Help me sir!
Or the hunter will shoot me dead."
"Come on in," the little man cried,
"Happy we will be."


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Thanks and Acknowledgements

Many thanks to Bonnie Tiffer for contributing this song. Thanks also to Monique Palomares for creating the midi music. Many thanks also to Krista Cobb, Carla Johnson, Maryandra Wiser, Katie Lowder, Linda Smith and Francois Jordaan for contributing the instructions and commentary.

Thank you very much!