The traditional lyrics of Little Miss Muffet are:
Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey;
Along came a spider,
Who sat down beside her,
And frightened Miss Muffet away.
The poem dates back to the early 19th century in England. Consequently, many people believe that Little Miss Muffet is about a girl named Patience who was Thomas Muffet‘s step-daughter. However, Thomas was a scientist from the 16th century who studied insects and spiders and their effects on medicine.
We will never truly know if Thomas Muffet had anything to do with the lyrics of Little Miss Muffet. Meanwhile, we can still use this rhyme to help young children understand the difference between a spider and an insect. As a result, Michael Kessler and I discovered that kindergarteners could learn to read with nursery rhymes. They could easily recite the rhyme, which made it easier for them to track the text.
Creative teaching resources were hard to find back then. There was not a TpT Store or great teacher blogs to go to. Honestly, I’m talking about a time before we had common and state standards. (Yes, I am that old 😜) While the standards were being developed, it was written in the kindergartener’s learning objectives that they know the difference between a spider and an insect. Therefore, Michael and I decided we could change the lyrics of Little Miss Muffet to help our students understand the differences while they were learning to track and read a memorized text.
The words of Little Miss Muffet Learns About Spiders are:
Little Miss Muffet
Sat on her tuffet
To see if the spider returned.
She studied real hard
By observing her yard,
And wanted to share what she learned.
“You’re not a bug,”
She said with a shrug,
“Compare the two bodies and see.”
“On spiders like you
The parts number two,
but all of the insects have three.” The spider said “Grand. But please understand, Here’s the best way to separate.” “When it comes to feet, We have them all beat.
Bugs have only six; spiders: eight.”
“And look at my eyes;
Is that a surprise?
I hope you will think it first-rate.”
“If you think I’ve two,
Then I have tricked you.
Look closely and you will see eight.”
“I know that,” she said,
“Your body and head
Have eight wiggly legs and eight eyes.”
“And the web that you spin,
Strong, sticky, and thin,
Is useful to catch little flies.”
Many books have told
About spiders, so bold,
Who carry a poisonous bite.
But most will not harm
Your leg or your arm
And usually come out at night.
Once the words were written, we put the text into an illustrated book. As a result, the drawing of the spider and ant did make me squeamish. Likewise, I am not as brave as the Little Miss Muffet in our version. Just thinking about Thomas Muffet using spiders in medicine makes me very glad I did not live at that time too.
Finally, I want to know your story. Is this a topic you enjoy teaching? What creative teaching resources have you found that make this topic fun for all? Leave a comment below.