The Origins of Some Scandinavian Finger and Toe Naming Rhymes

Julie and Beth wrote looking for the origins of two Scandinavian rhymes that are played with little kids while touching their toes. We’re wondering if anyone’s ever heard of these rhymes and perhaps knows what country they’re from and/or anything else about their origins. Here’s what Julie wrote:

I have been searching for the origin of a nursery rhyme that my friend said to her kids. The child has his/her shoes off and starting with the little toe, she names the toes:

Little Pea (little toe)
Peter Lou (next toe)
Oosey Nossey (next toe)
Toosey tossey (next toe)
And a Great Big Oppososso (big toe)

I am not sure of the spelling. However, the University of Wisconsin Children’s Library assures me that this toe rhyme has Scandinavian roots. They said: Scandinavia is known for naming toe rhymes.

Please help me, I have been searching the origin of this toe playing game for years with my friend’s blessing. My friend is Scandinavian and she doesn’t remember where she heard this toe playing game. I assume that she heard it as a child.


Beth Bookschlepper wrote in looking for the origin of a similar rhyme:

I know this as…

Little Pea,
Penny Rou,
Judy Whistle,
Mary Tossle,
And Big Tom Bumble.

I am also interested in its origins.

If anyone can help, or would like to share other similar rhymes, please comment below.



UPDATE: Check out Little One (aka Little Man) for an American Finger Naming Rhyme with origins in Medieval times.

This article was posted on Wednesday, December 13th, 2006 at 7:20 pm and is filed under Countries & Cultures, Danish, Danish Nursery Rhymes, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Icelandic, Languages, Norway, Norwegian, Norwegian Nursery Rhymes, Nursery Rhymes, Questions, Rhymes by Theme, Sweden, Swedish, Swedish Nursery Rhymes, Toe Naming Rhymes. 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.

358 Responses to “The Origins of Some Scandinavian Finger and Toe Naming Rhymes”

  1. Terri Says:

    My husband’s family was originally from New Jersey and England and Germany before that. Their version is this:

    Little Peed (start with pinky toe)
    Penny Rude
    Roody Whistle
    Mary Jostle

  2. jason Says:

    winka pea
    pena roo
    roo whistle
    mary tossle
    and tom BUM-BALO

  3. Amelia Says:

    My cousin did a similar rhyme with me as a child.

    ‘Little pea
    Tinker whistle
    Dolly hassle
    And the big chubby hobble gobble!’

  4. Shannon Says:

    My father used to say, starting with my little toe (I’m 70 now):
    Aqua Pea
    Penny Rue
    Roy Whistle
    Mary Hawthom
    (In a deep voice) Old Tom Bumbo

  5. Michael Says:

    44 here, remember my great uncle born around late 1920s doing this to me when I was a kid, in Maine:

    Little Pea
    Penny Lou
    Lucy Thistle
    Mary Thossle
    Old Bumbo!

  6. Eric Says:

    Starting with the pinky toe of their right foot (so your left) say:

    Ichy Pee
    Penny Rue
    Rufus John
    Rue Izzle
    And Old Tom Bumble

    (then, continuing to the next foot … )

    Tommel Tot
    Slickem Pot
    And Itty Bitty Spielaman (using a really high pitch voice).

    Spelling on all these could be off, and the last one might be Itty Bitty Peetaman (or something to that effect).

  7. Ruth Bennett Says:

    In my family it is:
    Little Pea
    Penny Sue
    Suddee Whistle
    Mary Wattle and
    Big Tom Boodle (in a deep voice and a wiggle of the big toe)

    We always called the big toe Big Tom Boodle.
    From my Mother’s family. Her Grandmother was from Bergen, Norway

  8. adam Says:

    From central North Carolina, starting from the little toe and ending with vigorous wiggle of the big toe.

    Acky Pee
    Penny Rue
    Rue Whistle
    Mary Hossel
    and Old Tom Bumblebee

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