Nine traditional Scottish children’s rhymes

CHILDREN’S rhymes have been for generations a fundamental part of growing up in Scotland.

CHILDREN’S rhymes have been for generations a fundamental part of growing up in Scotland.

Many traditional songs were composed for or by children for playing or amusement, others are variations of words found in poetry books, or even advertising jingles.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

We take a look at nine traditional Scottish children’s rhymes.

Let us know in the comment section if we have left any off the list.


A lost children’s counting song or game:

Eenty teenty tirry mirry
Ram, tam, toosh
Crawl under the bed
And catch a wee fat moose.

Cut it in slices,

Fry it in the pan,

Be sure and keep gravy

For the wee fat man.

Annie McShuggle frae Ochintoogle

An old Scottish rhyme on old Glasgow tramcars:

Fares please, fares please,

You can hear me say,

As ah collect ma money

Aw the day.

Ah work in the corporation,

You can tell it by ma dress,
Ah’m Annie McShuggle frae Ochintoogle,

The caur conductoress.

Skinnymalinkie Longlegs

There are several variations of this classic children’s Scottish street song:

Skinnymalinkie Longlegs
Big banana feet
Went tae the pictures 
An couldnae find a seat
So he couldnae pay his fare
So the rotten old conductor
Went an threw him doon the stair

Kiltie Kiltie cauld bum

Old Scottish children’s rhyme, sung at anyone wearing a kilt:

Kiltie kiltie cauld bum

Three sterrs up,

The wummin in the middle door

Hit me wi’ a cup

Ma heid’s a’bleedin

Ma face is a’ cut

Kiltie kiltie cauld bum

Three sterrs up.

One, Two, Three Aleerie

Aleerie is an old word meaning holding your leg crooked. This song was traditionally sung bouncing a ball three times, then lifting your leg and bouncing it under when you come to ‘Aleerie’:

One, two, three aleerie

Four, five, six aleerie

Seven, eight, nine aleerie

Ten aleerie overball

One, two, three aleerie

I saw Mrs Peerie

Sittin on her bumbaleerie

Eatin chocolate biscuits

Read More

Read More
A history of Scottish insults

Wee Willie Winkie

Wee Willie Winkie was the Scottish equivalent of the sandman, who brings sleep to children. It was also the nickname for William III. The rhyme may refer to the curfew regulations under his reign.

The first verse traditionally goes:

Wee Willie Winkie rins through the toun

Up stairs and doon stairs in his nicht-goun,

Tirling at the window, crying at the lock,

‘Are the weans in their bed, for it’s now ten o’clock?’

Ye cannae shove yer granny aff a’bus

(In some versions ye cannae shove her off cause she makes you mince and tatties!)
Sung to the tune of ‘She’ll be coming round the mountain’:

O, ye cannae shove yer granny aff a bus

Ye cannae shove yer granny aff a bus

Ye cannae shove yer granny

Fur she’s yer mammy’s mammy

Ye cannae shove yer granny aff a bus.

Coulter’s Candy

This Scottish folk song was written by a Galashiels weaver, Robert Coltard. It was originally was an advertising jingle for the aniseed-flavoured sweets that he manufactured in Melrose in the Scottish borders and still remains popular today:

Ally, Bally, Ally Bally Bee

Sitting on your mammy’s knee

Greetin’ for a wee baw-bee

To buy some Coulter’s Candy

Poor wee Jeannie’s looking awful thin

A rickle of bones covered over with skin

Now she’s getting a wee double chin

From sucking Coulter’s Candy

Arthur’s O’Bower

A Scottish rhyme, depicting the wind:
Arthur O’Bower has broken his band,

And he’s come roaring owre the lands;

The king o’Scots, and a’his power

Canna turn Arthur O’Bower.