Wind The Bobbin Up Nursery Rhyme- Lyrics, History, Video, Lesson Plans & More

Wind the Bobbin Up is a 19th-century English children’s song with several actions children are expected to perform. The song is excellent for teaching children to identify different things and perform movement actions.

animation picture of children playing

How did it come to be famous, though? Let’s look at that with a dive into the song’s history.


Lyrics for Wind the Bobbin As Sung Today

The lyrics of the song include several actions singers are supposed to perform.

Wind the bobbin up.
Wind the bobbin up.
Pull, pull, clap, clap, clap.

Wind it back again.
Wind it back again.
Pull, pull, clap, clap, clap.

Point to the ceiling.
Point to the floor.
Point to the window.
Point to the door.
Clap your hands together, 1, 2, 3.
Put your hands upon your knee.

Full Original Lyrics for Wind the Bobbin Up

This is a version of the original lyrics believed to have been sung in the Netherlands in the 1890s.

Wind the bobbin up,
Wind the bobbin up,
Pull, pull,
Tug, tug, tug.


Who Wrote Wind the Bobbin Up?

It is unclear who authored this famous rhyme. It is thought to be a 19th-century song that originated in Yorkshire, England. The timeframe between when it first appeared and today is too long for us to tell who originally wrote it.

The song has now become a famous singing game many people enjoy in childhood and adulthood.

What Inspired Wind the Bobbin Up Nursery Rhyme?

The workings of the old England textile industry probably inspired the sing. Yorkshire, where the song most likely originated, was a hub for textile industries in those times.


picture of a girl with a thought bubble saying, what is a bobbin

What Does the Nursery Rhyme Wind The Bobbin Up Mean?

Wind the Bobbin Up was thought to refer to the actions performed by workers in the textile industries of Old England. Today, the song is simply a source of entertainment for children besides being an excellently educative piece.

Wind the Bobbin Up, on first viewing, might seem a nonsensical song. However, the actions have meanings ruling it out as a nonsense song.

What is a Bobbin?

A bobbin is any cylindrical-shaped contraption onto which you can attach yarn, wire, or film. Bobbins also go by the name spool and are more likely to be found in industrial textile machines.

Wind and Wind??? What is the difference?

In the English language, there are words known as homographs. These are words that are spelt the same but are sounded out differently.

Wind with a short i sound is the word used for the gusts or air that are blown around in nature.

Wind with a long i sound or pronouncing the i as you would say the letter i in the alphabet can mean to twist or spiral something around a core or central object. In the case of this nursery rhyme, it means to twist the thread around the central or core bobbin.

What is to Wind a Bobbin Up?

Winding a bobbin is attaching the thread to the bobbin before using it. In this song, textile workers wind yarns of manufactured textiles onto the bobbin for storage or general packaging.


Does Wind the Bobbin Have a Dark Meaning?

Some accounts think the song has a dark meaning behind it. Wind the Bobbin Up originated over 100 years ago when the English textile industry was in full flight.

At that time, the workers worked long hours for little pay, according to an article on mumsnet. The parent who wrote the article says the song is a source of horrendous memory for all the women and children that toiled in the Northern England textile industries for little pay.

Not many people agreed with her assessment, though. One parent even said the song is suitable for teaching hand-eye coordination, and I agree.

If anything Wind the Bobbin Up is a testament to the power of the oral passing of information from generation to generation, as well as a historical insight into times past. Just think of the conversations you can have with your child about how people spent their time in the past when they ask you what a bobbin is.

Was Wind the Bobbin Up Once a Singing Game?

Yes, it was. But that was in the early 70s. The game involved two people winding their fists against each other’s faces without hitting each other. When it got to pull, the players would push their fists away from each other’s faces. And when it got to “tug,” the players would pull their elbows back.

Today, however, the children only play the game by performing the song’s actions. No more fist fights, even if it’s only halfhearted fist-throwing!

We can therefore conclude the song doesn’t have the dark meaning most people would want it to have. It is an innocent little ditty to teach children different actions and let them identify them.

Is Wind the Bobbin in The Public Domain?

Wind the Bobbin Up 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)

Wind the Bobbin Up was first published in the 1890s, decades before 1925. 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 or YouTube video of you singing Wind the Bobbin Up, your version is not public domain. Therefore, I cannot resell it without your permission.

Can You Sing Wind the Bobbin Up In Sign Language?

You can sing Wind the Bobbin Up in sign language – although most signs are just actions presented in the song. Here is a YouTube resource you’ll find helpful as Mr. Tumble uses sign language in between the songs hand movements as well.


The following is a selection of Lesson Plans based on Wind the Bobbin Up. You need to click on the images to go to the websites to learn more and download the resources.


What is the Time Signature of Wind the Bobbin Up?

Wind the Bobbin Up has a time signature of 4/4 and is played at 119 beats per bar.

How to Play Wind the Bobbin With an Instrument

You can play Wind the Bobbin Up on several instruments. Click on the below videos for the tutorials for playing the song with different instruments.


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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