Little Peter Rabbit Nursery Rhyme- Lyrics, History, Video, Lesson Plans & More


Little Peter Rabbit is an action nursery rhyme inspired by English writer Beatrix Potter’s character, Peter Rabbit.

The song is sung to the tune of the famous union anthem, solidarity forever. It is popular in teaching children the parts of the body.

How did the song come to be famous, though? Let’s examine that with a deep dive into the history of Little Peter Rabbit.

LYRICS

Lyrics for Little Peter Rabbit as Sung Today

Little Peter rabbit had a fly upon his nose
Little Peter rabbit had a fly upon his nose
Little Peter rabbit had a fly upon his nose
So he flipped it, and he flopped it
And the fly flew away.

Powder puffs and curly whiskers,
Powder puffs and curly whiskers,
Powder puffs and curly whiskers,
So he flipped it, and he flopped it
And the fly flew away.

Some variations use ears instead of the nose. They also use Peter Rabbit instead of Little Peter Rabbit. Some versions even add verses that include all the parts of the body.

Also, the words flipped it can be interchanged with flicked it or even swished it and shwashed it.

Others add this verse:

Clever, clever Peter Rabbit
Clever, clever Peter Rabbit
Clever, clever Peter Rabbit,
So he flicked, and it flew away buzz buzz

You don’t have to stick to a particular version. Sing whatever variation you love!

Full Original Lyrics for Little Peter Rabbit

Little is known about the Little Peter Rabbit nursery rhyme. Therefore, it’s impossible to tell if any other lyrics formed the foundation for the modern song version.

THE HISTORY BEHIND LITTLE PETER RABBIT NURSERY RHYME

Who Wrote Little Peter Rabbit Nursery Rhyme?

It is unclear who came up with the nursery rhyme Little Peter Rabbit. However, British author Beatrix Potter invented the iconic character Peter Rabbit over 100 years ago.

Potter first wrote of the character in a children’s book, The Tales of Peter Rabbit, before adding six other books that feature the famous rabbit character. There’s no record to show she also wrote the nursery rhyme. We can’t rule that out, though.

Perhaps the tales of Peter Rabbit inspired someone else to coin the famous ditty. Peter Rabbit has had cameos in other people’s stories and has even been part of children’s films. So the song may be only an adaptation of the famous character to come up with a song children enjoy.

We can never know whether that’s the case. All we can do is enjoy the song.

WHAT DO THE WORDS MEAN? DEFINITIONS

What Does the Nursery Rhyme Little Peter Rabbit Mean?

The Little Peter Rabbit rhyme has no special meaning. Like the books, the song seeks to entertain children and teach them one or two things.

People have changed the song and come up with different variations that teach children the different body parts. That further shows the song is purely for entertainment and means nothing more.

What Is a Rabbit?

A rabbit is a plant-eating, hole-burrowing mammal with long ears, a short tail, and long hind legs. Rabbits closely resemble hares.

What is a Fly?

A fly is a winged insect, sometimes called a housefly. Flies love dirty places, making their presence somewhere a sign of uncleanliness.

What Are Whiskers?

Whiskers are long and sometimes curly hair growing on some mammals’ noses. Rabbits have several whiskers on their nose, mouth, cheeks, and above their eyes.

What Does Flipped and Flopped Mean?

In the song, Peter Rabbit is using his paws in a flopping motion trying to squat the fly or shoo it away from his ears or nose.

Flipped and flopped in this song might have worked to improve the catchiness.

INTERESTING FACTS & QUESTIONS ANSWERED

Is Little Peter Rabbit Based on a Historical Person?

Little Peter Rabbit isn’t based on a historical person. Instead, it is based on a historical children’s book character, British author Beatrix Potter, created in 1893.

Potter created the character when she wrote a letter to amuse a sick child. In the letter, she told the child a tale of a rabbit she called Peter and added illustrations. Later, she published her first book with the character, The Tales of Peter Rabbit.

Peter Rabbit has appeared in many artworks, including films, TV shows, books, and songs. In most of these adaptations, the rabbit is anthropomorphic. Anthropomorphic is the attribute exhibiting human mannerisms.

He lives in a human-like house or burrow, wears a blue jacket, and walks with two legs. His front limbs act like human hands.

The author of the nursery rhyme Little Peter Rabbit tapped into this human-like nature of Peter Rabbit to write the song.

Is Little Peter Rabbit a Nonsensical Rhyme?

When you give it several listens, Little Peter Rabbit seems like a nonsensical rhyme. The events in the song are strange since the things the characters do, most normal animals wouldn’t – such as using paws in similar ways to human hands.

A rabbit would most likely twitch it’s ears or nose to get rid of a fly that was bothering them there.

Several words are strung together, making a little ditty that children will love singing. So yes, Litle Petter Rabit is a nonsense rhyme.

Are Rabbits Similar to Hares?

While most people might want to think rabbits and hares are the same, they are, in fact, different. According to National Geographic, they look nearly the same but belong to different species.

The major difference between the two mammals is in the ears, size, and socialization. Hares are usually larger, less social animals than rabbits. Hares are also equipped with larger ears than those of rabbits.

So next time you hear of Peter Rabbit, don’t ask yourself whether he could also be a hare.

Are Rabbit Whiskers Curly?

Despite what the song might say, the whiskers aren’t always curly! Most rabbits usually have straight whiskers. Only rex rabbits have curly whiskers. Maybe Peter Rabbit is a rex rabbit!

A quick fact to remember: rabbit whiskers are usually as long as the rabbit’s body to help it measure gaps and the breadth of holes! So never cut off a rabbit’s whiskers!

What Does Little Peter Rabbit Have to Do With Easter?

The Easter Bunny is a bunny or rabbit that delivers gifts to children during the Easter holidays. For this reason, Little Peter Rabbit is a popular song to sing to children around Easter.

What does it have to do with Easter, though? It all goes back to the Tales of Peter Rabbit and the association of bunnies with Easter. The author of the Peter Rabbit stories incorporated the Easter bunnies into the tales, and that’s how the famous rabbit character got entwined with Easter.

What Are the Accompanying Hand Actions for Little Peter Rabbit Singing Game?

Little Peter Rabbit involves certain actions that make it an excellent singing game for children.

Peter Rabbit LyricsPeter Rabbit Hand Actions
Little Peter RabbitPlace your hands on your head to imitate having bunny ears
had a fly upon his nose (REPEAT LYRICS)Point to your nose
So he flipped it, and he flopped itMake an action like swatting a fly away with your hands that are bunny ears.
And the fly flew away.Make an action like your hands are wings, and they’re flying away

Is Little Peter Rabbit in The Public Domain?

Little Peter Rabbit is a public-domain song. That means that no one has the copyright to it and that if you want to use the song in your work, you can.

The Peter Rabbit character might have been created in 1893, but no one knows when the nursery rhyme first appeared. Most songs with no known composer are usually in the public domain.

(Disclaimer: This is a general–not a legally confirmed fact, and you need to do more research into the laws in your jurisdiction/country to ensure you may use this song)

But this does not apply to other people’s versions of it—for example, if you made a CD or a YouTube video of you singing Little Peter Rabbit, your version is not public domain. Therefore, I cannot resell it without your permission.

LESSON PLANS AND ACTIVITIES INSPIRED BY LITTLE PETER RABBIT

Below is a selection of Lesson Plans based on Little Peter Rabbit. You need to click on the images to go to the websites to learn more and download the resources.

SHEET MUSIC FOR LITTLE PETER RABBIT

What’s The Time Signature of Little Peter Rabbit

Little Peter Rabbit is played at 183 beats per minute, which translates to a time signature of 4/4.

How Do You Sing Little Peter Rabbit In Sign Language?

You can also enjoy Little Peter Rabbit in sign language. Check out the below video to see how.

How To Play Little Peter Rabbit With an Instrument

You can also play Little Rabbit with an instrument. Here are some resources to help you do that.

Samantha

Samantha Bellerose has a Bachelor of Education as well as a Diploma in Performing Arts. She is a mom to four children and is passionate about education and learning. Samantha created Nursery Rhyme Central as the go to place for parents, teachers and carers about all things to do with Nursery Rhymes. She is also the Main Author and creator for websites Dance Parent 101 and Move Dance Learn, where she shares her knowledge and expertise for dance and learning through movement.

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