The Farmer in the Dell

This is an old classic song, whose words have been change to suit any number of occasions. However, few people know that it’s also an interesting singing game for children, and adults who aren’t too self-conscious to play.

Number of players: 6-10
Space required: a big room, depending on number of players
Ages: 4+

To begin, all the players except one form a circle. The player in the middle is the farmer. The players then move around in circles while they sing the song below:

The farmer in the dell
The farmer in the dell
Hi-ho the cherry-o
The farmer in the dell

The farmer takes a wife
The farmer takes a wife
Hi-ho the cherry-o
The farmer takes a wife

The rest of the verses follow the same pattern:
The wife takes a child….
The child takes a nurse….
The nurse takes a cow…
The cow takes a dog….
The dog takes a cat….
The cat takes a rat….
The rat takes the cheese…

At the end of the second verse, when the farmer takes the wife, the player in the middle chooses a player to be the wife, and brings them to the center of the circle. The circle continues to move while the song is sung, and in the next verse, the player chosen as the wife picks a child, and so on until there is one person left. This person has the dubious honor of being “the cheese.” When the last verse is sung, all the players clap their hands and get silly. The “cheese” then gets to be the farmer in the next round.

This game appeals to pre-school aged children because of its repetition and easy rules. If you’re playing with less, simply skip verses accordingly to get to the rat and cheese faster. If you’re playing with more than 10, you can have more than one cheese, then one goes on to become the farmer in the next round.