Ten In The Bed Nursery Rhyme- Lyrics, History, Video, Lesson Plans & More


The Ten In the Bed nursery rhyme is a popular children’s song that teaches kids how to count backward from ten to one. It is a staple educational tool and a long time loved night night nursery rhyme by parents all over the world.

Let’s look at the history of the song to see if counting is the only thing it teaches.

LYRICS

The song comprises ten verses, each counting down a number from one to ten.

Lyrics for Ten In The Bed as Sung Today

Here we go!
There were ten in the bed,
And the little one said,
“Roll over, roll over.”
So they all rolled over, and one fell out.

Nine!
There were nine in the bed
And the little one said,
“Roll over, roll over.”
So they all rolled over, and one fell out.

Eight!
There were eight in the bed
and the little one said,
“Roll over, roll over.”
So they all rolled over, and one fell out.

Seven!
There were seven in the bed
and the little one said,
“Roll over, roll over.”
So they all rolled over, and one fell out.

Six!
There were six in the bed
And the little one said,
“Roll over, roll over.”
So they all rolled over, and one fell out.

Five!
There were five in the bed
And the little one said,
“Roll over, roll over.”
So they all rolled over, and one fell out.

Four!
There were four in the bed
And the little one said,
“Roll over, roll over.”
So they all rolled over, and one fell out.

Three!
There were three in the bed
and the little one said,
“Roll over, roll over.”
So they all rolled over, and one fell out.

Two!
There were two in the bed
And the little one said,
“Roll over, roll over.”
So they both rolled over, and one fell out.

One!
There was one in the bed
and the little one said,
“I’m lonely… [sigh].”

The last line can change depending on the person singing the song. In some versions of the rhyme, the last line is “Goodnight.”

Full Original Lyrics for Ten In The Bed

Ten in The Bed has kept the same lyrics as before it became popular. Some modern versions reduce the number of numbers from ten to five. That makes it easier for younger children to understand the song.

The vast majority, however, deviates little from the original lyrics.

THE HISTORY BEHIND TEN IN THE BED NURSERY RHYME

Who Wrote The Nursery Rhyme Ten In the Bed?

Ten in The Bed has a somewhat patchy history, and the author is unknown. That’s unsurprising for a nursery rhyme – that people know little of its origin.

There really is no concrete knowledge of how or when the song came to be – just quite a bit of speculation.

It is entirely in keeping with most nursery rhymes that have details of their origins disappear in the mists of time.

WHAT DO THE WORDS MEAN?DEFINITIONS

What Does the Nursery Rhyme Ten In the Bed Mean?

Ten in the bed falls into the class of nonsense rhymes with little meaning rather than education and entertainment.

There’s no deeper meaning for example about sibling rivalry or about people living in such conditions that they need to share 10 to a bed for example.

It is simply a fun and creative song created that teaches counting while entertaining at the same time.

Trying to decipher any deeper interpretation will only confuse you more. No one knows who the ten in the bed are. When singing the song, you can have the ten be any animal, you want!

What Is a Bed?

A bed is a furniture piece for rest or relaxation. The typical bed is a flat framework with a mattress to facilitate comfortable resting.

What Does the Little One Mean?

The little one in this song means the smallest or youngest one. It is supposed to be funny that the smallest in the bed needs the most room!

It is also relatable as the child being sung to is usually the smallest one and many parents who have had their children sleep in their bed with them will know how they are usually relegated to the edges as their child spreads themselves out!

What’s to Roll Over?

To roll over is to turn over your whole body like rolling a log or a cylinder. Think of rolling your body down a hill for example over and over and over!

INTERESTING FACTS & QUESTIONS ANSWERED

Who Are the Ten In the Bed?

The ten in the bed are no one in particular. The song doesn’t mention who the ten in the bed are. That leaves singers to interpret the song in whichever style they want and imagine characters as they go.

Some versions use a child and his nine toys. Others use different animals, such as bears. An example is this version by Mother Goose.

So if you are singing the song and wonder who it is referring to, remember it can be anything or anyone. Get creative with your imagination and come up with your ten in the bed characters.

They could be ten dogs, rabbits, cats, children, or dolls.

Does it Always Have to Be Ten In the Bed?

It doesn’t always have to be ten characters in bed. You can create your version with 20, 5, or 7 characters in bed.

It can be any number, like in this video here:

Actions For Ten In the Bed Nursery Rhyme

Besides being a counting song, you can also sing Ten in The Bed as an action rhyme. Here are the accompanying finger-play actions:

Ten in the Bed LyricsTen in the Bed Hand Movements
There were ten on the bedHold up ten fingers
And the little one said
Roll over, roll overMake a rolling motion with your arms/hands or fingers
So they all rolled overkeep rolling your arms
and one fell outLower one finger toward the ground or
Fall to the ground and get up.

(Repeat with 9-1)

At the end, the children pretend will to go to sleep.

Is Ten In the Bed Nursery Rhyme In the Public Domain?

Ten In the Bed nursery rhyme 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. Anything published or copyrighted before 1925 is considered public domain today.

(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)

No one knows when Ten in The Bed was written or published. That makes it a public-domain song.

But this does not apply to other people’s versions of it—for example, if you made a CD of you singing Ten in The Bed, your version is not public domain. Therefore, I cannot resell it without your permission.

How Do You Sing Ten In the Bed Rhyme in Sign Language?

You can sing Ten In the Bed in sign language. I found a resource on YouTube that can help you with that.

Lesson Plans and Activities Inspired By Ten In The Bed Nursery Rhyme

The following is a selection of Lesson Plans based on the nursery rhyme Ten In the Bed. You need to click on the images to go to the websites to learn more and download the resources.

SHEET MUSIC FOR TEN IN THE BED NURSERY RHYME

What Is the Time Signature of Ten In The Bed Nursery Rhyme?

Ten In The Bed is typically played with a time signature of 2/2 although it can also be played in common time 4/4.

How to Play Ten In The Bed Nursery Rhyme With an Instrument

You can play Ten in The Bed nursery rhyme on an instrument with any of the below YouTube resources.

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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