Can Someone Help with a German Lap Rhyme?

Gloria wrote to me:

Hi, my grandma (born in Eisleben in 1875, emigrating to the Midwest in 1902, married her second husband (my grandfather) in St. Paul, lived most of her life in Wisconsin with her third husband), recited a rhyme when dandling a baby on her extended foot, either with legs crossed at the hips (or just straight out, but the dad’s were best at that). The rest of the family did it for every baby/little child, including myself. We never saw it in print, and we only have the phonetic sound from listening to it. Phonetically, it went something like what follows. I would dearly love to know exactly what it meant, although it is obvious based on what happened to the child:

Grandma (and all the rest of us who had children) would cross her legs at her hips, sit the baby on her upper ankle, hold the baby’s two hands in hers, and bounce the baby lightly up and down, until the end of the rhyme, when she would let the child fall back, laughing, and then lift the child back up, and begin again!

Scheckle, scheckle, reiderlein,
Ven die kinder kleinerschein
Reiden zie auf steckerlein,

Ven zie greis auf verten
Reiden zie auferten
Zen zie verten,
Klip, Klop, Klip Klop
Reiden zi (then something like a scary word or sounds)

“Boom stehl leckta!” really loud!

The adult lets the child fall back, usually grinning happily. (Sometimes a baby didn’t like it but others wanted you to pull them up onto your ankle and do it again! Some kids got a little dizzy if you did this action too fast! But mostly they loved it. I don’t remember their doing it with me, but I am certain they did, that’s where the phonetic sound and rhythm of the lines as I remember them come in, as well as my mother’s saying it to me when I was older and wanted her to tell me what it was, but it would always have been a phonetic memory, since she never really learned much German except what was common… the words you aren’t supposed to say!) This was done several times, until either one’s leg was tired, or the child needed a rest. I just used the phonetic version when I treated my kids as babies to the fun game, but for some reason I never asked my grandma. I was told that it meant something like, “When a child is little it rides on a stick horse, but when it tries to ride a real horse, he will go faster and fall off.” Have you ever heard this? I possibly have some of the phonetics wrongly remembered, but the rhythm and sounds and actions are still in my brain.

Thanks for any help you can give. I do like your website, I found it by way of BING. I think it is very interesting as to the German, lots of Germans settled in America. My father’s ancestors may have come from Austria, as well as Germany, but came to Wisconsin in the 1840’s, met and married, learned English, so they never spoke German at all when we knew them. A grandson, age 12, who has been learning German, took to it immediately, and loves it, as well as Norwegian, so there must be an inherited acclimation to the sound of a language.


Gloria Koeser Laundrie

Thanks for sharing your song with us Gloria! If anyone can help with the German version and/or an English translation, please let us know in the comments below.


Mama Lisa

This article was posted on Wednesday, October 28th, 2009 at 9:32 am and is filed under Children's Songs, Countries & Cultures, German, German Children's Songs, German Nursery Rhymes, Germany, Horse Trotting Rhymes, Languages, Lap Rhymes, Lap Rhymes, Mama Lisa, Nursery Rhymes, Questions, Readers Questions, Rhymes by Theme. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

30 Responses to “Can Someone Help with a German Lap Rhyme?”

  1. Gloria Says:

    I hope that someone can help me out with this, I am so sorry I didn’t actually talk with my grandma about it, to get it clear as to spelling, etc. She may have learned it from my grandfather when they had their children. It certainly proves the point that young people should be encouraged to get the life stories from their grandparents, and that the older people should be patient with their questions.

  2. Lisa Says:

    Gloria – if you’d like to recite this rhyme it might help to jar someone’s memory. We have a new way of recording by phone (by leaving a message). I could post the recording here. Please let me know if you’re interested.

    You’re right about the importance of preserving our grandparents memories and songs… record, videotape, write, everything you can do, it’s so nice for the whole family.


  3. Gunda Says:

    Hi Gloria,

    I am from Germany and was looking for something for Halloween. I saw your question about something German.

    I think this is still a common rhyme / nursery rhyme in Germany. But as you said: Your grandma came to America in the century.

    I think it is:

    Hoppe, hoppe Reiter,
    wenn er fällt dann schreit er,
    fällt er in den Graben,
    fressen ihn die Raben,
    fällt er in den Sumpf,
    macht der Reiter Plumps.

    Hoppe, hoppe Reiter,
    wenn er fällt dann schreit er,
    fällt er in die Hecken,
    fressen ihn die Schnecken,
    fällt er in den Sumpf,
    macht der Reiter Plumps.

    The second rhyme is a new rhyme, but the first rhyme is a rhyme, I made on my grandpas knees, sitting on them and with a “hhhuuuuii” I was falling almost down.

    I will try to see, if I find something better, but this comes very near to your rhyme.

    from Germany

  4. Gloria Says:

    Thank you for your reply, Gunda. You are right, it is very close to the meaning of the rhyme that I remember. As I pronounce yours, as best I can from the German words you sent, it doesn’t have the sound of my grandma’s verse, nor the rhythm, nor as many lines, so I think yours is another rider rhyme for grownups to do with little ones. They could be different in different families. As I recall history, there were many different areas of Germany that may have had slightly different language sources. For instance, my grandfather was said to have come from the Alsace-Loraine area of Germany where there would have been French influences, or Italian, possibly. As an aside, he had dark brown eyes, and my grandma had blue eyes, and all of her kids had blue eyes. When most of my kids were born with brown eyes (my husband is of French, Indian, and Dutch descent), she would get a twinkle in her eye, and smile. She really admired them. Anyway, I remember the rhythm of our riding verse quite well and when I was little, I would just copy the sounds, bouncing my dolls on my own knees. Later I would do the “schuckle, schuckle” part with my kids, and if my mother heard me say the rest of the verse, she would correct my pronunciation. However, I do absolutely and clearly recall the “BOOM stelecta”, as they let the baby fall backwards, but no one ever wrote it down so I could be sure of the spelling. I had an aunt who loved the German language, and liked even to read the old script….she even saved some books that she gave me late in her life….and I never thought to ask her if she could write the words of the riding verse down for me. I can’t read or speak German, but I like the sound of it at times. Two of our grandchildren are very good at that language, and no one ever spoke it, so there has to be an inherited tendency for language. I didn’t get it, however! Sometime I will write the story of my aunt’s visit to Germany when she was 81 or so, in 1981 or 1982. It is wonderful. What a lady, fearless.

  5. Gunda Says:

    This is it… *g*

    Schacker, schacker Reiterlein,
    Wenn die Kinder kleine sein,
    Reiten sie auf Stöckelein,
    Wenn sie größer werden,
    Reiten Sie auf Pferden,
    Wenn sie größer wachsen,
    Reiten sie nach Sachsen,
    Wo die schönen Mädchen
    Auf den Bäumen wachsen.
    Reiter, Reiter, übern Graben,
    Wenn er ´neinfällt, muß er´s haben.
    Fällt er in den grünen Klee,
    So schreit er: O weh, o weh!
    Fällt er in die Hecken,
    Fressen ihn die Schnecken.
    Fällt er auf die Steine,
    Tun ihm weh die Beine.
    Fällt er in den Graben,
    Fressen ihn die Raben.
    Fällt er in den Sumpf,
    Macht er plumps, plumps, plumps!

    So my first intention was korrekt. It is old and new again…. the long version. I try to find out more about it.



  6. Lisa Says:

    How’s this for an English translation…

    Schacker, Schack* Rider,
    When the children are little,
    They ride on toy horses**,
    If they are larger,
    They ride on horses,
    When they grow even bigger,
    They ride it into Saxony
    Where the beautiful girls
    Grow on trees.
    Rider, Rider, across the ditch,
    If he doesn’t fall, he must have one.
    If he falls into the green clover,
    Then he shouts, Oh dear, oh dear!
    If he falls into the hedges,
    Then the snails eat him.
    If he falls on the stones,
    Then he hurts his legs.
    If he falls into the ditch,
    Then the ravens eat him.
    If he falls into the swamp,
    Then he does, fall, fall, fall!

    *As far as I can tell, “Schacker, schacker” is a nonsense phrase.
    **Or “cockhorses” – a cockhorse in this case being a wooden horse’s head on a stick that children pretend is a horse.

    I welcome comments and/or criticism on my translation.


    Mama Lisa

  7. Gunda Says:

    Hi Mama Lisa,
    yes, good.

    As you know, what it mean.. Stöckelein means this kind of toy for sure, but originaly it means a smale piece of wood. A little branch of a tree.

    This prase is not correct: If he doesn’t fall, he must have one.

    “Wenn er ´neinfällt, muß er´s haben.” neinfällt is not the meaning of not falling: it`s a shortcut from hineinfallen, which means fall into:

    so it must come. If he is falling into the ditch, he must have one…(but I don`t know what. *g*)

    Schacker, schacker was the noise of the Carriages on paving-stones, or the noise of the hooves on the road. It is not complete nonsens. In the old times of germany it was the sound of the street.

    Hope I could have helped you with this.


  8. Lisa Says:

    Thanks Gunda – that is a BIG help! I appreciate it. -Lisa

    PS If you’d ever like to recite a German rhyme or sing a song – that would be great! We have a lot of German songs, but hardly any recordings for them.

  9. jeanie watling Says:

    I remember my Mother and Grandma recite a rhyme in German about a mouse. You would use the child’s palm and put your hand in it as it is the mouse. Then recite the verse and the mouse would run up to the house …aka run up the child’s arm and you would tickle them.

    I am hoping someone can remember this rhyme. Thanks so much…Jeanie

  10. jeanie watling Says:

    Jeanie again! My sister was able to bring this little bit to mind. It may help someone else come up with the rhyme.

    “Well they mixed german and english. Like Der comes ze mouse, ze cofse, “something’ ten, ten ten and then the run up the arm.”

    Thanking you for any help you can give me. Best Jeanie

  11. Gunda Says:

    Hi all,
    maybe Dutch, or the german slang of Plattdeutsch.
    I will look around, if I find it.

    German Songs. I look.

    For all of you: I wish you a merry christmas and a happy new year.

  12. jeanie watling Says:

    Gunda, I think I have attached myself to someone else’s question…!? Please advise. Happy Holidays to you.
    Best Jeanie

  13. Gunda Says:

    I will open a new tread, when I find something. Today it is a bit hard for me to come through to the US Server. So later.

  14. adelheid Says:

    Hoppa, Hoppa Reiter
    Wenn er faellt dann schreit er,
    Faellt er in den Graben
    Fressen Ihn die Raaben,
    Faelt er in den Sumpf,
    Macht der Reiter bumps,
    Bumps, Bumps, Bumps

  15. Michelle Says:

    I know the rhyme about the mouse though only in my language which is a form of Pennsylvanian Dutch. I will try to translate it to German.

    Da lauft ein Mauschen
    und sucht ein Hauschen
    Tragt ein korblein Hubelschatten
    Weist nicht wo sie sollt rasten
    Da findet sie ein kasten.

    (Feel free to correct my translation.)
    The rhyme is said while “running” up the child’s arm
    with one’s fingers and tickling under the arm- the mouse’s
    resting place- at the end.

    ~Michelle Hofer

  16. Lisa Says:

    Thank you Michelle! If you’d like to post the Pennsylvania Dutch version – it would be nice. It might help people who are looking for it in Pennsylvania Dutch.

  17. Elle Müller Says:

    See the other thread with what looks like the same song!

    Another lady was looking for the same song – I’m sure of it.

    However, I copied her questionable lyrics and the best answer which did not have a on-to-one correspondence.

    This may be the best answer anyone will ever get or give.

    As we shall see, YOUR version has a first line no one else has quoted in the other thread, and it refers to the sound of a horse’s hooves and the wheels of a cart against a cobblestone road.

    Although all of your versions are incomplete, this combined with Lisa’s supplied best guess, and the other thread’s best source should be of great help.

    You asked about this version:
    ‘Scheckle, scheckle, reiderlein,
    Ven die kinder kleinerschein
    Reiden zie auf steckelein,
    Ven zie greissa verden
    Reiden zie auferden
    Zen zie verten,
    Klip, Klop, Klip Klop
    Reiden zi (then something like a scary word or sounds)
    “Boom stehl leckta!” really loud!’

    The ‘boom stehl leckta’ is obviously corresponding to ‘(Ka)bumms! da liegt er/sie’.

    In the other thread, there were two versions.
    The poster’s aunt gave a version where the final line supports the song having been sung to a girl, and the father’s version, to a boy.

    One of the best answers is this version (which is not a perfect match):
    ‘Schacker, schacker Reiterlein,
    Wenn die Kinder kleine sein,
    Reiten sie auf Stöckelein,
    Wenn sie größer werden,
    Reiten Sie auf Pferden,
    Wenn sie größer wachsen,
    Reiten sie nach Sachsen,
    Wo die schönen Mädchen
    Auf den Bäumen wachsen.
    Reiter, Reiter, übern Graben,
    Wenn er ´neinfällt, muß er´s haben.
    Fällt er in den grünen Klee,
    So schreit er: O weh, o weh!
    Fällt er in die Hecken,
    Fressen ihn die Schnecken.
    Fällt er auf die Steine,
    Tun ihm weh die Beine.
    Fällt er in den Graben,
    Fressen ihn die Raben.
    Fällt er in den Sumpf,
    Macht er plumps, plumps, plumps!’

    I have a similar version in my own memory that is halfway between the short version(s) in this thread, and the and longer possible-source version from the other thread.

    This probably is the original (Saxonian) nursery rhyme of which you phonetically remember a portion (and from the looks of it, what you remember was “gesächselt”). The music to this version is probably the rhythm you sing your versions in!

    This one is said to have been written down in the 1700s, so I’m calling it the possible Urtext.

    Title: Hopp hopp hopp Reiterlein

    Hop, hop, hop, li’l rider

    Activity: Kind hoppelt auf dem Schoß

    child hopping on the lap

    [Here’s where the actual rhyme starts:]

    Hopp hopp hopp, Reiterlein,

    Hop, hop, hop, li’l rider,

    wenn die Kinder kleine sein,

    when children are small

    reiten sie auf Stöckelein

    they ride on a stick (horse)

    wenn sie größer werden,

    when they grow larger

    reiten sie auf Pferden,

    they ride on (real) horses

    wenn sie dann noch wachsen,

    if they still grow, then

    reiten sie nach Sachsen.

    they (will) ride to Saxonia

    Geht das Pferdchen trab, trab, trab,

    (And) the little horse goes trot, trot, trot,

    wirft den kleinen Reiter ab,

    throws down the little rider

    Plumps liegt er im Graben.

    thud, he lays in a ditch.


    That ending is similar to yours, and was likely picked for the same meaning – and excuse to plummet the child to a world of excitement where the gravity accelerates toward exciting levels, and bring them back again with equal swiftness.

    Here’s a possible source for the music that nearly fits with any of the shorter versions, but it seems that something containing 7 syllables is missing between ‘Schacker, schacker Reiterlein’ and ‘Wenn die Kinder kleine sein’, or before ’shacker, schacker Reiterlein’.

    Last but not least, this YouTube video I found seems to almost match exactly, but I was not familiar with it until I stumbled across it on a web search.

    Have I been helpful and thorough enough to forgive my verbosity?

  18. Gloria Koeser Laundrie Says:

    Here it is, December 29, 2010, and I am back looking at so many interesting answers to my query about the Scheckle Scheckle rhyme, and the mouse, too, although my parents always said it in English, and it is still very popular with little babies, who will laugh and giggle. Thank you all so, so much! It is like a little kaffe klatsch of people, and from a year ago. I hope you all have a wonderful 2011.

    I asked about this version:

    ‘Scheckle, scheckle, reiderlein,
    Ven die kinder kleinerschein
    Reiden zie auf steckelein,
    Ven zie greissa verden
    Reiden zie auferden
    Zen zie verten,
    Klip, Klop, Klip Klop
    Reiden zi (then something like a scary word or sounds)
    “Boom stehl leckta!” really loud!’

    The ‘boom stehl leckta’ is obviously corresponding to ‘(Ka)bumms! da liegt er/sie’.

    to Elle Muller: This seems to have the exact rhythm I remember all through my childhood and into the years my children were little and had grandma’s and grandpa’s to entertain them. I will memorize it, and use it with a little great grandson as soon as I can. I will also check out youtube! Thank you so much for all the information.


  19. Michelle Says:

    I have never heard the OP’s rhyme, but I do know the one about the mouse in the house. My Grammy did that one to us as kids & still does it to my kids now. She also sang 2 other ones that I can’t find anywhere so far. One starts off Greis weiss, greis weiss (crosswise) & the other one is while rocking the child & goes “Hootchie hootchie heidel”

  20. Michelle Says:

    & I realized how poor my German is these days. It’s “kreuzweise”.

  21. Kimberly keeling Says:

    The mouse, is that the one where the mouse runs up your arm and rings the doorbell(child’s ear) then knocks on the door(child’s head softly)?

  22. Ceci Says:

    I am thrilled to come across this thread. I have been looking for years for a German rhyme that my mother in law sang to all our children. It’s something she would sing and pat their feet during the song, and then tickle their feet at the end. Sorry for the phonetic version….I have no German speaking abilities whatsoever.

    Naegele Naegele nischlaugh
    Umpf dibeder este schlaug
    (Tickle tickle tickle)

    Does this sound familiar to anyone on this thread?

  23. Gunda Says:

    Hi Ceci,

    I will give your question to a german page

  24. Gunda Says:

    Dille, dille Dänzchen

    Maybe something like this?

    You touch the hand very soft each time and in the last row you tickle the child.

  25. m.a.allen Says:

    Hopp Hopp Schuster’s Kopf…
    Heil, Heil, Heil Schneiders Kneil…

    Not sure of the spelling but my Dad used to do this with my grandchildren and other little ones. They sat on his foot like the original poster described. The oompha came when he leaned them backwards as they squealed.

  26. Anna Says:

    My mother and Omi used to do this when I was a little one! Thank you so much for providing the answer for this!

  27. Gabby Says:

    I saw you all were helping with this and was hoping you could help me with one that my grandfather sang to me in a similar fashion!

    I dont know the spelling of the words so I’ll only be able to spell it phonetically. He used to bounce me on his knees and sing:

    Thrus Thrus Thraylia
    Bower Hüt Kafaylia
    Reiter Reiter in zie Koompf

    Boop! (Dipped me backwards while I laughed)


    And then we’d do it again. He learned the poem from his grandfather who was a Volga German who had moved to Russia when Catherine the Great was giving land to anyone who was willing to work it. My family has never known how to spell the poem or if the poem is in German, Russian, or some other language. We just know it by heart.

    Please help!

  28. Colleen Says:

    My Gabby Daleiden’s parents came from Germany. She would read her little German Bible to us & make us laugh. She would bounce us on her lap, especially the little ones & sing (I’m just sounding out the words – not sure how they’re spelled):

    Yup Yup Parchin
    Soota roota milchin
    Para hoota filchin
    Filchen hoota grotaflex
    Schmise baby in the dreck (and she would tip their heads down)
    Schmise baby in the dreck.

    Does anyone know the rest (if any) of the words?

  29. Elise Says:

    My grandfather spoke Plattdeutsch (Low German) and his ancestors came from W Prussia and S Russia. His rhyme (to the best of my childhood memory, also spelled phonetically) was this:

    Hup-up saedika,
    Lieschte fall from faedika,
    Som de bopa schtadem do,
    Om de beep and —
    Bopado! (Bounce)

    I do remember the translation being something about a cart and the person falling off… Could these be related?

  30. Bonnie Says:

    My husband’s parents spoke low German and had several little sayings that they did with our children. I don’t know if this is correct spelling:

    Zo raten de Herron
    Zo raten de frauen
    Zo raten de Kauf.

    My father in law didn’t know how to write it so I just imitated him. He told me it meant…

    So goes the father
    So goes the mother,
    So goes the cook.

    When you get to “cook” you drop the child between your knees [make sure to hold on to them] because the cook was too heavy on the horse! The other one goes something like this:

    Hutza butza Rita
    Moya fovavita
    Hutza butz, Hutza butz!

    When you do this you bounce the child higher on the last “Hutza butz”.

    Anyone else familiar with these?

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