Thread the Needle Games

In Thread the Needle Games, the players stand in two rows across from each other. They hold hands in an arch with the person across from them. Players go under the arch and join the end of the line once they’re through the arch. Sometimes they’re played while singing a song. There are variations on how the game is played.

Here you can see people playing a Thread the Needle Game.

Here are the lyrics to some British Thread the Needle songs…

I. Thread my grandmother’s needle!
Thread my grandmother’s needle!
Thread my grandmother’s needle!
Open your gates as wide as high,
And let King George and me go by.
It is so dark I cannot see
To thread my grandmother’s needle!
Who stole the money-box?

Midi for this version of Thread My Grandmother’s Needle

2) Thread my grandmother’s needle,
Thread my grandmother’s needle;
It is too dark we cannot see
To thread my grandmother’s needle.

Midi for this version of Thread the Needle

3) Come thread a long needle, come thread,
The eye is too little, the needle’s too big.

4) Thread the needle thro’ the skin,
Sometimes out and sometimes in.

In some places in Great Britain they played a Thread the Needle game for Shrove Tuesday. (Shrove Tuesday is the day before the start of the fasting season of Lent for Christians. Sometimes, there’s a party before the fasting – like Mardi Gras.) Here’s a song they would sing while playing Thread the Needle for Shrove Tuesday:

Shrove Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, when Jack went to plough,
His mother made pancakes, she didn’t know how;
She tipped them, she tossed them, she made them so black,
She put so much pepper she poisoned poor Jack.

Pancakes are eaten in England for Shrove Tuesday.

There’s also a Thread the Needle game that’s play in Cameroon, Africa. Check out the link to see the song.

Feel free to share any Thread the Needle songs you know from around the world in the comments below. I’d be curious if any Brits out there are familiar with any of the songs above or if they’re no longer sung.

Thanks to Monique Palomares of the French version of Mama Lisa’s World for the midis!


Mama Lisa

This article was posted on Monday, April 26th, 2010 at 8:55 pm and is filed under Cameroon, Children's Songs, Countries & Cultures, England, English, Games Around the World, Holidays Around the World, Languages, Mama Lisa, Shrove Tuesday, Songs by Theme, Thread the Needle Games, Thread the Needle Songs, United Kingdom. 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.

5 Responses to “Thread the Needle Games”

  1. Quicchote Saavedra Says:

    Mungkin artikel ini bisa sedikit gambaran menarik…
    salam hangat!


    Maybe this article is a little interesting, with a picture …
    warm greetings!

  2. lulu Says:

    Mama Lisa,
    I cannot seem to locate the instrumental version on the you tube above for thread the needle. Can you help? I would like to purchase?

  3. Mardi Gras Lesson Plans | My Fresh Plans Says:

    […] rhyme is used to play Thread the Needle, a nice whole-body game for the […]

  4. Dany Rosevear Says:

    ‘Thread the needle’ is usually played holding hands in one long line where the end two children make an arch for the line to pass through as in ‘The big ship sails through the Ally ally-o’see at:
    The line ends up with everyone’s hands crossed in front of them.
    The games described above and in the video are probably ‘Grandy needles’ or ‘Grandmother’s needles’ as described in Iona and Peter Opie’s book ‘Singing games’

  5. Chuck Says:

    I loved the dance and music that went with the video Thread the Needle.
    What is the name of the music?
    Where can I access that song?

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