I’m a Little Teapot is an American nursery rhyme that kids love to sing and move to! The simple actions and lyrics about the functions of a teapot are fun and one many families love to sing together!
Did you know there was a second verse to the song? Let’s look at when and how the song came to be.
Lyrics for I’m a Little Teapot As Sung Today
The song is quite short, consisting of only four verses. You can add actions for several lines, as shown in the lyrics below.
I’m a little teapot
Short and stout
Here is my handle (one hand on hip)
Here is my spout (other arm out bent like the teapot spout)
When I get all steamed up
Hear me shout
“Tip me over and pour me out!” (lean over toward spout)
I’m a clever teapot,
Yes, it’s true
Here, let me show you
What I can do
I can change my handle (change hands to other hip)
and my spout (switch arms spout positions)
Just tip me over
and pour me out! (lean over toward spout)
Full Original Lyrics for I’m a Little Teapot
The song is a recent rhyme compared to most other nursery rhymes. Therefore, it hasn’t seen any changes to the lyrics. The lyrics we sing today are the same as when the original author first wrote the song.
THE HISTORY BEHIND I’M A LITTLE TEAPOT
Who Wrote the Nursery Rhyme I’m a Little Teapot?
I’m a Little Teapot has a rather interesting backstory which was documented in the book ‘Reflections on a Teapot: The Personal History of a Time’ by one of the author’s sons, Ronald Sanders.
Ronald writes that the song was written by Clarence Z Kelley and George Harold Sanders who wrote the song with the purpose of publishing and selling it.
But the idea for the song came from one of the businesses Clarence was involved with – a children’s dance school that he ran with his wife.
They taught children to do basic tap steps such as the Waltz Clog.
However some of their students were so young, that teaching such basic tap steps was not an option.
Clarence needed a dance they could teach them that appeased their parents who were sending and paying for these young children’s lessons.
And that’s when he thought of writing I’m a Little Teapot with children being able to do the simple movements of hooking their arm for a handle and the other for a spout which they could teach to the children.
The teapot song was not a direct replacement for teaching the waltz clog or a stepping stone or scaffold to teaching those complicated steps which is what most other histories I have researched infer.
It became apparent to me that this could not be a scaffold of sorts to teaching the waltz clog as a tap dancer myself and having taught tap dance as the a waltz has a 3/4 time signature and The Teapot Song has a 4/4 time signature and is more of a foxtrot!
Instead this was a totally new dance, one that the young students at the dance studio could easily master. However, this new dance craze overshone even the teaching of the waltz clog at the time!
When they wrote the song, they called it The Teapot Song. The lyrics we know today were basically the chorus of the song and there were many other lyrics.
It was only known in parts of America when it was first published. It hadn’t become the world sensation it is today.
Betty Harris recorded the song with Peter Pan records in 1959 with added lyrics.
However, a short two years later, the song and the dance routine called the Teapot Dance had swept across America and even crossed over to other English-speaking countries.
What fuelled the song’s fame was a recording by Art Kassel and his orchestra, Kassels in the Air and sung by Marion Holmes. He recorded the song in 1941 under Bluebird Records.
That’s when everyone sat up and took notice of the song. It was even mentioned in a Newsweek article as the next inane novelty song to hit the big time.
Ever since, numerous artists have recorded the song.
WHAT DO THE WORDS MEAN? DEFINITIONS:
What Does the Nursery Rhyme I’m a Little Teapot Mean?
At face value, the nursery rhyme talks about a teapot and how to get hot tea. There is no deeper meaning to the song.
What’s a Teapot?
A teapot is a kettle with a handle and spout through which you pour tear or other brewed beverage.
What’s a Spout?
The spout of a teapot is the part you pour your tea or beverage through.
What Does Stout Mean?
When an object is stout, it is thick and strong.
INTERESTING FACTS & QUESTIONS ANSWERED
Is I’m a Little Teapot a Nonsense Rhyme?
Yes, I’m a Little Teapot is a nonsense rhyme. Though it tells the story of a teapot and how the pot works, the words and actions have no meaningful interpretation.
One characteristic of nonsense rhyme is to have words and actions that don’t make sense. We can all agree there isn’t a teapot that can talk or sing to explain its function.
Newsweek described the song as an inane novelty song. That was down to the pantomime nature of the lyrics and the nonsense meaning the song conveyed. So yes, calling the teapot song a nonsense rhyme is okay.
Does It Always Have to Be a Teapot?
Of course not, you can sing about other little things too. Many nursery rhymes have many alternative versions that only use the tune. The words are usually totally different!
Here are some alternate versions you should try.
I’m a tube of toothpaste on the shelf,
I get so lonely all by myself!
When it comes to nighttime, then I shout,
Take my top off and squeeze me out!
I’m a little robot, short and square,
I have no teeth, and I have no hair,
If you want the answers to a sum,
press my button, and out it comes!
I’m a little snowman, short and fat,
Here’s my scarf, and here’s my hat,
When the snow is falling, hear me say,
Build a snowman every day!
What Are the Actions and Hand Movement to I’m a Little Teapot?
The actions to I’m a Little Teapot are very easy and simply follow the words of the rhyme. I have outline them for you in the following table!
|I’m a little teapot|
|Short and stout||Bob down then up|
|Here is my handle||one hand on hip|
|Here is my spout||other arm out bent like the teapot spout|
|When I get all steamed up|
Hear me shout
|Shake your body|
|“Tip me over and pour me out!”||lean over toward spout|
|I’m a clever teapot,|
Yes, it’s true
Here, let me show you
What I can do
|I can change my handle||change hands to other hip|
|and my spout||switch arms spout positions|
|Just tip me over|
and pour me out!
|Lean over toward spout|
Is the Nursery Rhyme I’m a Little Teapot In the Public Domain?
I’m a Little Teapot isn’t a public-domain song. It was written in 1939, and the authors published it under their copyrights. Also, the song doesn’t fall into the category of songs written before 1925 that are default public domain songs.
The song is ubiquitous thanks to its fame and recording by different artists. However, it is copyrighted and belongs to the original writers. Therefore, you have to have their permission to perform or use the song.
You should always check the laws within your own jurisdiction as the above is not legal advice, just information we have researched and learned, you need to do your own legal research to ensure your are within your rights to record or perform the song for profit – singing it at home is fine!
How Do You Sing I’m a Little Teapot in Sign Language?
You can sing I’m a Little Teapot in sign language. Here is a YouTube resource explaining that.
I’m a Litle Teapot Inspired Lesson Plans and Activities
The following is a selection of Lesson Plans inspired by the I’m a Little Teapot nursery rhyme. You need to click on the images to go to the websites to learn more and download the resources.
Sheet Music for I’m a Little Teapot
What is the Time Signature of I’m a Little Teapot?
The rhyme is played at 134 beats per minute and has a 3/4 time signature.
Can You Play I’m a Little Teapot On an Instrument?
You can play the rhyme with most instruments. Check out the below resources to try it.