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Nursery Rhyme Trivia
by Staff
When it comes to old nursery rhymes, stories and singing games, most of us adults remember a lot more than we think we do. Teaching these traditions to our children and grandchildren is a wonderful way to bond and teach them about the past. But how much do we know about the stories behind the beloved tales?

The first-ever recorded speech was a tinfoil phonograph recording of which nursery rhyme?

  • "Der Struwwelpeter"
  • "Little Boy Blue"
  • "Mary Had a Little Lamb"

"Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary" refers to which British monarch?

  • Maria Anna of Spain
  • Mary I ("Bloody" Mary)
  • Mary II (of "William and Mary" fame)

Bloody Mary's penchant for burning people at the stake also inspired this rhyme.

  • "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush"
  • "Goosey Goosey Gander"
  • "Three Blind Mice"

Which member of Henry the Eighth's court is being lampooned in "Little Boy Blue"?

  • Henry the Eighth himself
  • Sir Thomas More
  • Cardinal Thomas Wolsey

In "Jack Sprat," to what do the "fat" and "lean" really refer?

  • peasant demands and eventual uprising
  • war funds
  • import tariffs

Which of these unlikely rhymes is actually based on a real event?

  • "The Old Woman Who Lived In the Shoe"
  • "Little Boy Blue"
  • "Little Miss Muffet"

Which rhyme is commonly believed to detail the fate of Marie Antoinette, among others?

  • "Jack and Jill"
  • "Humpty Dumpty"
  • "The Little Girl With a Curl"

To what does Humpty Dumpty's "great fall" really refer?

  • the American Revolution
  • a literal fall from a wall
  • King James I's scandals

"Rock-A-Bye Baby" is about which real-world situation?

  • a literal treehouse, in the boughs of which lived a Derbyshire family
  • the practices of Native Americans as described by European colonists
  • the tenuous peace in Ireland after the 20th-century uprising

Which of these historical figures is immortalized in the words of "Georgie Porgie"?

  • Matthew Hopkins, the Witchfinder General
  • Jack the Ripper, who was never caught
  • the Duke of Buckingham, known for his many lovers

What was the organization that denounced many of the most popular nursery rhymes for "harbouring unsavoury elements"?

  • Mothers For Wholesome Nursery Rhymes
  • The Nursery Clean-Up Society
  • British Society for Nursery Rhyme Reform

Which nursery rhyme purportedly references peep shows?

  • "Do You Know the Muffin Man?"
  • "Rub-A-Dub-Dub"
  • "Ride a Cock-Horse to Banbury Cross"

What was the job of the real-life "Lucy Locket"?

  • prostitute
  • cook
  • maid

Which nursery rhyme was involved in a lawsuit in 2009?

  • "Humpty Dumpty"
  • "Little Jack Horner"
  • "Eeny Meeny Miny Mo"

This still-popular rhyme gets negative marks for both racism and violence.

  • "Ten Little Indians"
  • "Jack Sprat"
  • "Hey Diddle Diddle"

Which nursery rhyme can also be read as an exploration of child labor?

  • "Simple Simon"
  • "See Saw, Margery Daw"
  • "Polly Put the Kettle On"

Who was Mary Sawyer?

  • "Mary Had a Little Lamb"
  • "Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary"
  • "Miss Mary Mack"

What's the "macaroni" in "Yankee Doodle Dandy"?

  • the latest in European fashion
  • an unfamiliar pasta dish
  • code for the American Revolution

Which English king's failed request for an annulment allegedly inspired "Old Mother Hubbard"?

  • Henry the Eighth
  • James the First
  • George the Third

These two boys' names are frequently used in nursery rhymes because they were historically used as a generic name for any Englishman.

  • Jack and John
  • Tommy and Jim
  • Georgie and Henry

The lion's share of the nursery-rhyme canon originated in this century.

  • 17th
  • 18th
  • 19th

Which character lends his name to the title of the first published nursery-rhyme collection?

  • Tom Thumb
  • Jack Sprat
  • Jack Horner

When was the first mention of Mother Goose?

  • 1700
  • 1800
  • 1900

The Great Custom, an unpopular 13th-century tax, inspired which nursery rhyme?

  • "Ring Around the Rosie"
  • "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep"
  • "Pop Goes the Weasel"

Who's the titular character in "Ladybird Ladybird"?

  • a Quaker in Protestant England
  • a Catholic in Protestant England
  • a Protestant in Catholic England

This rhyme is probably about a cash-strapped guy who goes out for a night on the town.

  • "Pop Goes the Weasel"
  • "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush"
  • "Little Boy Blue"

Which of these nursery rhymes is about a title-selling scam by the Bishop of Glastonbury?

  • "Little Jack Horner"
  • "Cat's In the Cradle"
  • "The Lion and the Unicorn"

Which nursery rhyme originated in a women's prison?

  • "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush"
  • "Pop Goes the Weasel"
  • "Yankee Doodle"

The myth-debunking site Snopes.com discredits a common theory about which nursery rhyme?

  • "Rock-A-Bye Baby"
  • "Mary Had a Little Lamb"
  • "Ring Around the Rosie"

"Rain, Rain, Go Away" originated during a war between England and this country.

  • United States
  • France
  • Spain