Looking for a Russian Child’s Finger Play

Sue sent us this question:

Does anyone know a Russian child’s finger play that goes something like this:

saroka verona
na pripchke sidela

(with each finger): tsmudila, tsmudila, tsmudila; tsmudila: aye tsmudila

My grandmother used to play this with me and I’d like to pass it on to my granddaughter.

If anyone can help Sue out, please comment below or email me.



This article was posted on Monday, May 19th, 2008 at 9:29 am and is filed under Countries & Cultures, Finger Plays, Languages, Nursery Rhymes, Questions, Readers Questions, Russia, Russian, Russian Children's Songs. 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.

29 Responses to “Looking for a Russian Child’s Finger Play”

  1. Natalia Says:

    Dear Lisa,
    First of all I’d like to congratulate you on such a wonderful thing as this site is; what you’re doing for the children and for all of us is really great, so thanks a lot.
    About what Sue is asking for: I’ll try do find the whole text of “Soroka-vorona” and send it to you for her. It’s the most popular Russian children’s fingerplay and I myself played it with my daughter and my granddaughter when she was quite a baby (she is 3 now), but what I know is an incomplete version, and besides I suspect there are a few of them. Please ask Sue if she also remembers “Ladushki”; it’s another very popular fingerplay in Russia, so if she’d like to have it too, I’ll send both lyrics.

  2. Donna Says:

    Anyone find all of the words to this childs fingerplay? My sister and I are trying to remember the words that were played to us when we were children so I can play with my daughters but we are at a loss.

    thank you

  3. Monique Says:

    There’s a finger play called “Soroka, soroka” on Mama Lisa’s World Russia page and one called “Soroka-vorona” on Mama Lisa’s World Ukraine page.

  4. Pinuk Says:

    its supposed to go like this:

    saroka varona (= saroka is some kind of bird, and varona means raven)
    kashku varila (= made poridge)
    dietak karmilla (=gave it to the children)

    mamu dala (=gave some to mom)
    papu dala (=gave some to dad)
    who-ever-else-u dala (=just insert any name)

    na (childs name) sidela (=buy she didnt give to… your kid (-: )


  5. Irina Says:

    I would say that this is russian version of “This little Piggy”. What I remember as a child and now do it with my kids( 4 years and 12 months old) is:
    Move your finger( sort of tickling) around child’s palm and start…
    (Magpie the thief,been cooking the porridge and giving it to her kids)
    then you do exactly the same if you was playing”this little piggy” but with the child’s fingers –
    (gave to this one \\\\\\\\\\\\\\, meaning each finger)
    A ETOMU NE DALA!!! ( but did’n give to this one – meaning child’s little finger)
    ON DROV NE RUBIL! (He didn’t chop any wood)
    VODU NE NOSIL! (Didn’t bring any water)
    KASHU NE VARIL!(didn’t cook a porridge)
    NICHEGO NE POLUCHIL! (Didn’t get anything)
    My older one Nikita is 4 and still loves it!

  6. Lisa Says:

    Rachelle wrote:




    Thanks Rachelle and everyone else who wrote in to help!

    Mama Lisa

  7. Elisabeth Says:

    I am looking for a russian “game” I used to play with my grandparents, in which they were talking fast and tickling me, with a spider-like hand goind up my arm. Please if you know it, tell me ^^.

  8. Peta Says:

    Thankyou Mama lisa – this has made my day!
    I was with my elderly Ukraine Grandmother today and she was trying to teach my third baby Saroca Verona.

    Does anyone know a slightly different version? The one my Nanna gave me sounds like and translates like this:

    Seroca Verona (somebody….?)
    Jichim cache (for the children)
    Cu varella (makes porridge)

    Naprepich cu stu dilla ( Cooks it and blows on it to cool it)
    Cho mo della, co mo della, cho mo della, (gives some to this one and this one and this one)
    Chomo holo cus nella (but takes hat off and puts it on this one’s head)

    Hail Hail (Fly away)
    Pule Chille
    Or de nal lo tchi cile ( comes back with hands on the head)

    Are there different dialects across Ukraine?
    Thanks, Peta.

  9. Marijka Says:

    My Grandmother did the same thing with me and my son, when he was a baby. It was such fun as the kids would giggle when my Baba would tickle us.

  10. monika soroka Says:

    Pinuk said <> was some kind of bird. Yes, it is a magpie.
    In Polish it is spelled SROka; in Russian it is SOROka. (but in Cyrilic of course) Same bird.

    The game which Elizabeth is inquiring about i.e. tickling up the arm is one which translates from Polish “Idzie rak nie bo rak — jak ugryzie bedzie znak” . ‘ The crab is walking . . . walking… ( when he bites there will be a bite !’ bite- mark)

  11. Lisa Says:

    We have Idzie rak on Mama Lisa’s World!

  12. Lisa Yannucci Says:

    Rachelle wrote:

    My aunt used to do it in my palm-

    Serucka verona kashkah verinikah
    Tema dallah tema dallah

    And tickle me up the arm- hope it helps.


  13. Rachelle Lillian Says:

    The version I heard from my mother is Irina’s, but I remember ‘NA PRIPATCHIK SIDYELA, KASHKU VARILA.’

  14. LK Says:

    My son’s great grandmother sang/said it this way:

    Soroka Vorona
    Dityam Kashku Varila

    And, the rest is basically the same as you’ve all written here.

    It took me forever to translate “dityam” which means children in Ukrainian. Apparently the words she used to sing were Ukrainian mixed with Russian.

    I wouldn’t have been able to fully translate them using the traditional translation tools available online without looking here first. So, thank you for this site and the valuable information you have here.

  15. Robin Says:

    My grandmother came to the U s in 1920 .She spoke Yiddish, Russian and Polish. All her grandchildren loved this finger play .It began with her making believe she was spitting in our palm and then made circles in our palm while singing surinka burinka… I forgot the middle part and then she would lightly pull each finger while saying temeezila temizila and then tickle us. Anyone remember the middle part???

  16. Lora W P Says:

    I’m so happy I’ve found this website. My Father and Mother and sister immigrated from Germany after being displaced, to Ellis Island November 1950. I’m the only American born. They sang this song to me, then my children, now I’m singing it to my grandchildren. I forgot a few words, but not now. :-)

  17. andre Says:

    thanks Irina for the words! these are exactly the ones my Babushka used to say to me as a child (i am grand Dad now :) i thought i had them wrong and i would not tell them to my kids, but now you confirmed to me that i was right, and that i do remember correctly!

  18. Mike K Says:

    My dad used to play this little piggy in White Russian.
    It went like this.
    Kouyou kouyou noshka
    Kouyido nodaroshkou
    etomadou etomadou
    All the way home!

    I know the last part is English but that s how he used to say it!
    Regards Mike K

  19. Renata G Says:

    I’m from Brazil and my grandmother used to sing me this song!! I’ve been looking for the correct lyrics forever!
    And it sounded exactly like LK said!
    Do you have any videos of this song??

  20. Erica Z Says:

    I am so thrilled to have found this page. I never thought of looking up “soroka voroka” (as I remember it) online. Finally after all these years I may be able to transcribe my Grandmother’s version. She was from Ukraine (Zaslav), and the version that LK mentions (with the word “dityam”) is what I remember, but then Robin mentions the spitting and making circles, which my Grandmother did. She was born 1900 and came to the US in 1920. She also said “tomeezileh, tomizeleh” and i think added “to ketzeleh (little cat?), to …? (rhymed with ‘mizeleh’). “Mizinchik’ means ‘little finger’ in Russian… not sure if there’s a connection. Hoping to get the rest figured out as well.

  21. Lisa Says:

    We have a Ukrainian version called Сорока-ворона (Magpie-Crow). There are many versions of this rhyme in Ukrainian. I couldn’t find any on the internet that mentions a cat. You may find other versions here.

  22. estee Says:

    Was this a Russian finger game primarily or a Jewish Russian finger game? my mother did it to me and my children. it was Soroka Voroka. and she did it the same way it was described by Robin above. Great memories!

  23. Andres Skliarevsky Says:

    Hello from Argentina! WOW! I can’t believe I found it! My dad, Alejandro (RIP), used to sing it and play it with me when I was a baby and little kid. Like Renata G, from Brasil, and Erica Z, I am so happy and thrilled (also some cute little tears that are falling) of having found this… Thank you soooooo much!

  24. Debbie Says:

    My grandmother also sang “Saroka varona” to me… Jewish, polish, Russian. I would love the words to pass along to my kids!

  25. Lisa Says:

    You can learn the rhyme here.

  26. Dave Says:

    To the best of my memory and a per video we recorded of my 96 year old aunt:

    Surinka burinka
    Deetma nadocka navarilla
    Preeshla coyshla zia zilla
    Tumadeetz tumadutz
    Tumadeetz tumadutz
    And a cootchy cootchy coo

    My grandmother pretended to spit in the palm of my hand and then she would recite the first 2 lines. Then she would fold over 4 fingers with each word she recited from the 2nd 2 lines. She would then tickle me up the arm as she recited the 5th line.

  27. Tamara Mesri Says:

    My grandmother from Poland, Jewish used to do in my hand with a finger in circles:

    and then on the arm up to tickle

  28. Hatte Blejer Says:

    My husband’s mother learned it from her mother (the Babi) who came to Argentina in 1921 from Ukraine. We taught it to our children born 1980 and 1984, but no one really knows the words or what they mean. What I remember is Saroke Varone es Chiche …

  29. Lisa Says:

    Aliza wrote:

    I myself am trying to find all the words to this little ditty! My grandparents used to do this with me when I was little.

    I’m sure of the first two words: Sorinka Borinka

    Really fuzzy on the rest. Sounded something like:

    Deetszen gaffeh
    Na varilla
    Mujuloo, mujuloo, mujuloo, mujuloo
    Meesele, meisele, meesele, meisele…

    Let me know if you have other info!!


Leave a Reply