Category Archives: Children

On the Planet Mars – Saudi Arabian Children Hand Game

Title: On the Planet Mars

General Information About Item:

  • Customary Lore, Children Hand Games
  • Language: English
  • Country of Origin: Saudi Arabia
  • Informant: Abu Bakar
  • Date Collected: May 9, 2019

Informant Data:

Abu Bakar was born in Malaysia and moved to Brunei when he was 6 years old, he lived in Brunei for 4 years and eventually moved to Saudi Arabia where he lived in the expatriate community for his 7 years there. Bakar relocated to the US ever since he started college at Dartmouth and now lives on campus.


Both players are expected to sing the song while they play, their hands are supposed to move in a certain way, as seen in the video. When the last word “freeze” is said, the players are supposed to stop moving. If a player messes up the hand motions or moves after the word “Freeze is said”, the player is supposed to be given a light slap. Often times, the players would try and freeze in funny positions prompting the others to laugh. The player who remains frozen for the longest is the “winner”.


On the planet Mars,

Where the babies smoke cigars,

Every step you take

Is enough to kill a snake.

When the snake is dead,

They put mustard on their heads.

When the mustard dries

You put diamonds in their eyes

When the diamonds break,

You put two out of sixty-eight


Contextual Data:

Bakar learned the song from his sisters when he was in primary school. He said that they brought it back from their school. His elder brothers later adopted it and created a rougher version involving punishment when the players failed to comply with the rules of the game or “got out of the freeze” sooner than their friend.

Associated file (a video, audio, or image file):


Additional Notes:

There are multiple variations exist around the world. To see additional variations, please refer to:

Abu Bakar said many of the hand movements were recreated as he progressed through primary school, becoming progressively more difficult. Therefore, the game which is recorded in the video is not necessarily an exact replica of what he played for all of his childhood, but rather an approximation of the version of the game which was most impactful

Collector’s Name:

Manzi Bryan ’21


  • Customary Folklore
  • Children Hand Games
  • On the Planet Mars

My Little Tea Pot

Title: My little tea pot

Informant data:

  • Chlöe Conacher was born on May 9, 1997. She grew up in Toronto Ontario and currently lives in the Bay Area California. She has an older brother and a younger sister. She went to a private school in Canada for the first half of her life but then went to a private high school in California. Her parents are both Canadian. Chlöe is majoring in neuroscience and has an interest in soccer dancing and art. She currently attends Dartmouth College and is in the class of 2019.

Contextual context:

  • Social Context:
    • While telling me this nursery rhyme Chlöe was extremely happy and excited. This was one of her favorite nursery rhymes as a child. She heard this nursery rhyme from her parents. She also heard and shared this nursery rhyme during family reunions and holidays. She has many younger cousins and so every time their family would gather she would play with them and sing nursery rhymes- Little Tea Pot was a favorite.  Chlöe didn’t just sing this nursery rhyme, she performed it as well. While singing the short song she would act out motions. She would place one arm on her hip and one hand bent over and away from her head like a tea kettle spot. She would then embody the tea kettle and bend her body to the side and act as though she was pouring tea out of her spout. As she grew up she would teach her little cousins this and watch them dance along to the rhyme
  • Cultura Context:
    • When Chlöe was little the nursery rhyme was just a fun game to play with her family and friends. She used to get excited when she heard the tune of this song come one because she loved the dance and the actions that go with it so much. She continues this tradition of singing and dancing to this rhyme with her cousins. The last time she heard this was the summer of 2017 when she had a family reunion and her “little cousins tried to master and perform the dance for the older cousins.” Today the nursery rhyme has less of a literal meaning but more of an underlying meaning. Today she remembers this as a song that brought her family together and allowed them to enjoy each other’s company.



“I’m a little tea pot short and stout, here is my handle and here is my spout.

When I get steamed up hear me shout, tip me over and pour me out!”

Informant Opinon:

Although this is a short song to sing and an easy one to learn she enjoyed the simplicity it brought to her families lives. She understands that this could be considered a basic nursery rhyme as other families might perform these traditions as well, but to her this was all about family and getting together.

Collectioner’s opinion:

She grew up around this folklore and she grew up sharing this piece of rhyme with so many of her family members that it doesn’t matter if this is a classic American nursery rhyme. The unique value it holds to her is indicative of how each nursery rhyme means something different to every person who is involved in sharing this nursery rhyme.

Collected by Avery Schuldt

Hot Cross Buns

Title: Hot Cross Buns

General Information:

  • Verbal lore: song
  • English
  • American
  • Children
  • Rhyme

Informant data:

  • Mariel Gordon is freshman at dartmouth, graduating in 2021. She was born and raised in Dallas Texas. She attended a public high school in Plano Texas. Mariel plays soccer at Dartmouth and has played her entire life. When Mariel told me this piece of folklore she was happy to retell the story. Mariel has one older brother who also was told this nursery rhyme by their parents. Mariel is interested in film and learning more about directing film as well as sociology.

Contextual Context:

  • Social Context:
    • I collected thing nursery rhyme in the library during on a Thursday and there was not a lot of people there so Mariel was very open with her sharing. The last time Mariel heard this nursery rhyme was about 5 years, when she was around 12. Her mom and her dad always sang to her Hot Cross Buns before eating breakfast on most Sundays.  She would eat pancakes and eggs on Sunday’s when she would sing this nursery rhyme. The only thing that really connected her to this nursery rhyme was the breakfast that came with it. She shared this nursery rhyme with her brother and her little cousins. She also heard this nursery rhyme when she was learning to play the base in her middle school orchestra.This was the first song she completely learned how to play on the base.
  • Cultural Context:
    • The two different contexts to the song has given Mariel two different ways to view this Nursery rhyme. She originally remembered the song as a happy memory, but then when she heard the song in school and associated the song with learning the base she grew to dislike the sone. Different contexts can make people change their opinions on nursery rhymes.


Hot cross buns, hot cross buns, one a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns”

Informants opinion:

  • “I used to love this nursery rhyme as a child because it signified food, but as soon as I was forced to learn it and become good at laying this nursery rhyme on the base I hated it. It became a chore”

Collectors comments:

  • It is important to recognize the shift in opinion of the rhyme. Rhymes are not always beloved songs children here. People hear them all the time and become over absorbed in them and learn to dislike them. It was unfortunate that a childhood memory got ruined but another bad memory.

Collected by Avery Schuldt





Collected by Avery Schuldt

Jack be Nimble

General Information abut Item:

  • Rhyme
  • Ritual
  • Children
  • American
  • English

Informant data:

  • Mollie McGorisk was born on March 7, 1998 in Detroit Michigan. She attended a large public school that was a part of the Detroit public school program. She has one older brother and one younger brother and lives with her parents. She has played soccer her entire life and has been actively involved in other sports teams like basketball. She likes the stay active and get involved with art. She currently attends Dartmouth College and is in the class of 2020. She is interested in majoring in engineering and physics.

Contextual Data:

  • Social Context:
    • When Mollie was recalling her story, she started to think of home and all the great traditions that she did as a child. For her, this nursery rhyme was a tradition. It was passed down from generation to generation. Her parents taught her the nursery rhyme Jack be Nimble. When Mollie was telling me this story she became happy and sad at the same time. She “loves sharing this tradition with other people because it gives [her] joy to bring people into her life.” When Mollie performs this nursery rhyme it is not just sung, but it is acted out. Every week or so her mom would read her this nursery rhyme before bed. Instead of just singing it to her, her mom would set up a candle and Mollie would jump over the candle and into bed Mollie jumped over the candle stick multiple time before going to bed and the final jump would land her in bed and her mom would tuck her into sleep. When Mollie grew up it was her turn to teach this action to her younger brother and when he grows up it is his duty to tell this nursery rhyme to his younger cousins.
  • Cultural Context:
    • All in all, Mollie’s nursery rhyme, Jack be Nimble, reminded her of her childhood and the relationship between her mom and her brothers. This nursery rhyme made Mollie think of her home and the traditions that she used to be a part of as a child and that have stopped over the years. She hopes to bring this nursery rhyme and the tradition of jumping over the candle to her family in the future.


“Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, jack jump over the candle stick”

Associated Item:

Collector’s Comments:

Molly seemed to get happy when sharing this story. She kept saying how she loved this nursery rhyme and how it brought great memories to her. I think that this since this was part of her nightly traditions it was hard for her to let go. Also, as she grew older and didn’t need a story before bed she grew out of this tradition and forgot about it until I asked about her childhood nightly rituals. This is considered a tradition because it was passed from mother to daughter and brother.

Collected by: Avery Schuldt

Liver Theft

Title: Liver Theft

General Information about Item:

Children’s Folklore (Horror Stories)

This story was collected at Dartmouth College,  United States

Informant Data:

Abby Star is 18 years old and goes to Dartmouth College. She is from Maine. She is from a family of 6 (including her).

Contextual Data:

Abby heard this story when she was 8 years old. She saw a cd on the bookshelf called “Scary Stories to Spook/Haunt the Soul” and she was curious and decided to play it. While she heard many stories, this one stuck with her the most. Horror Stories like this one are told between friends at any time. Normally, they are told during the night to add to the ambiance and fear factor of the story.


Download “Liver Story”

(Video file was too large for site)

Transcript of Associated File:

It starts with this guy, ok, and he is on his first date with this chick. And he meets her at a bar and they start talking. She’s really beautiful. He’s feeing pretty good about the date. They sit down and she’s like “alright I’ll buy us some drinks.” and He’s like “ok” and they have more and more conversations and she’s starting looking down. She’s not having the best time and he’s like “what’s up are you good is it something u need to talk about?”

And she’s like “I don’t know. I’ve had a lot on my mind lately. My brother he is in hospital right now. We don’t know whether or not he’s going to live. We are trying to find an organ donor for him. His liver is having problems and my dad is trying to raise some money to make that happen.” And the guy was like, “oh gosh I’m really sorry that’s really awful is there anything I can do to help?” and she is like “oh you can always donate to the fund.” And the guy is like “ok ill make sure ill do that… donate to the fund.” The guy finishes his drink and he’s like all right. I’m going to get another drink.” She’s like “oh actually I got it. It’s ok. I know the bartender really well. He gives me free drinks.” He gets another drink and things getting a bit better now. She’s starting to perk up again. He’s starting to feel better overall.

A while later, they’re talking some more and he’s starts feeling tired. He’s like “maybe I should stop drinking.” So he gets some water. When she offers to get him another drink, he’s like, “I’m all set. I’m going to take it easy tonight.” As he is drinking his cup of water and talking to this girl, he starts to get really tired. He starts seeing things out the corners of his eyes. Colors are getting brighter and then dimmer and then dull. Things are getting strange and he’s like “whoa I’m not doing so well.” He asked to go to the bathroom. He goes to the bathroom. He’s getting pretty close to blacking out. He’s starting to hallucinate. There are people in his vision. He’s not having a great time and he passes out.

He wakes up in a little bit later. He wakes up in his bathtub. He’s like “that was a really strange dream man. “I hope that chick was ok and she’s not worrying about me.” He turns and his buddy’s there and he’s like “hey what are you doing here.”

He (his buddy) says, “You’ve been out for a long time. We were wondering where u were and the police got involved and everything. Like are you ok? The ambulance is coming right now.” And he’s like “what” and he (buddy) like “look down.”

And he looks down at himself in the bathtub and he’s up to his neck in water and basically his own blood and his guts have been cut open. And he’s freaking out and he asks his buddy what’s going on and his buddy says, “your liver is gone you have a couple hours left to live.”

Informant’s Comments:

  • This story scared her when she heard it (Also being 8 years old)

Collector’s Comments:

  • I have heard horror stories about someone stealing your organs in the passing but not the complete version of the story before.

Collector’s Name:  Andrew Alini

Tags/Keywords: Horror Folklore, Scary Stories, Children’s Stories

The Man in the Backseat

Title: The Man in the Backseat

General Information about Item:

Verbal Folklore: Children’s Folklore (Horror Stories)

Collected in Dartmouth College, United States.

Informant Data:

Emma Hobday was born in Arlington Virginia and is 19 years old. Before attending Dartmouth, she went to Williamsburg Middle School and Yorktown High School. In her middle school, she took drama.

Contextual Data:

During Emma’s 8th grade drama class on Halloween, her teacher decided to suspend class for the day and have everyone sit in a circle and tell ghost stories in honor of Halloween. This story stuck with her the most. Horror Stories like this one are told between friends at any time. Normally, they are told during the night to add to the ambiance and fear factor of the story.


Download “Man in Back Seat”

Transcript of Associated File:

So one day after work, she works the late shift, a woman was driving home. And it’s all dark. She’s driving on barren country road. It’s misty. She drives through the forest and she notices a car behind her, following about 50 feet back. She says, “Well that’s unusual. I usually don’t get other people on this road,” but she keeps driving. Then, out of nowhere, the car honks at her and she’s confused. I mean, she’s just driving straight on the road nobody around she’s not using her… her front beams or anything. So she just writes off. “Oh this guy…whatever….he hit the horn by accident maybe.

So she drives on for another minute and the car honks again. This time twice! She looks in the rear view mirror and it’s just a guy in a car. He’s shouting something at her, but she can’t tell. He just being an aggressive drivers. So she keeps driving. She’s getting close to her turn off and she’s looking forward to not being near that car anymore

And he honk’s again! This time three times “BEEP BEEP BEEP!” She is lost, she’s lost faith in humanity. She’s sick of it so she waves out her window to follow her as she takes the turnoff and pulls into a gas station. She gets out of the car rounds on the other driver. He rolled down his window and she shouts, “Why have you been honking at me? I’m driving fine. There’s nothing wrong. Stop being an asshole.” And the guy says, “There was a man in your back seat. Each time I honked, he’d pulled out and he was making to kill you. I just saved your life not once, not twice, but three times!” The woman isn’t sure what to think. She looks back to her car and the door opens.

Informant’s Comments: Emma said that while she doesn’t remember many of the stories, this one stuck with her.

Collector’s Comments: I have heard a variation of this story. In the variation, the car behind the woman uses her high beams to signal the woman rather than honking.

Collector’s Name: Andrew Alini

Tags/Keywords: Campfire Story, Horror Folklore

Red Eye

Title: Red Eye

General Information about Item:

Verbal Folklore: Children’s Folklore (Campfire Horror Stories)

This item was collected at Dartmouth, United States

Informant Data:

Emma Hobday was born in Arlington Virginia and is 19 years old. Before attending Dartmouth, she went to Williamsburg Middle School and Yorktown High School. Two of her friends in high school were Katie Dawkins and Elina Kent.

Contextual Data:

Emma and her friends had a sleepover party at Katie Dawkin’s house during around 9th grade.  During the night, they all went into the basement. Because the basement had a creepy swinging light in the center of the room, they decided to sit around it and tell scary stories. Elina Kent, who was also at the party, told the group the “Red Eye” story. Horror Stories like this one are told between friends at any time. Normally, they are told during the night to add to the ambiance and fear factor of the story.



Download “Red Eye”

Transcript of Associated File:

So, a girl lives alone in a house and every night she goes to sleep, but she starts to have weird dreams that wake her up in the middle of the night. So, one night when she’s woken up by a strange dream she’s somehow inspired to go outside and her house is surrounded by a fence, a wooden fence, and there’s a tiny little hole in the fence that she’s never looked at before. And this night she goes and she puts her eye up to the hole. And all she sees past it is red. And so she thinks, “hmm, well I guess that just must be my neighbor’s putting in a new…new shed or something, a new little red shed. So she writes it off. She says, “oh I just had a bad dream.” she goes back to bed.

The next night the same thing happens. She wakes up sweating profusely. She’s had another terrible dream. She goes out to the yard sees the same red thing through the hole. So that goes on all week until one night she’s woken up by a dream where she sees a ghost. And as she looks at the ghost she notices that has pure red eyes. She screams and whips out of her bed and the ghost is gone. This time, she walks out to her yard, looks through the hole in her fence and the red is gone. She just sees into her neighbor’s yard. She’s panicking. She goes back to her room, splashes water on her face to calm herself down and in the mirror she sees that her eyes are now red.

Informant’s Comments: The swinging light in my friend’s made the stories extremely creepy.

Collector’s Name: Andrew Alini

Tags/Keywords: Horror, Campfire Stories, Children’s folklore,

Music as Communication among Peers

Music as Communication among Peers

Informant information:

Mary Kate resides in Andover, Massachusetts. She has a daughter who has an undiagnosed developmental disorder. Her daughter is nine years old and participates in the” My Own Voice” choir, a choir for children with special needs in Andover.

Type of lore: Customary

Genre: Children’s Folklore

Language: English

Country of Origin: United States of America

Social / Cultural Context:

Mary Kate and Neal’s daughter cannot speak even though she is now nine years old as a result of an undiagnosed developmental disorder. Among the challenges this presents, she often has a difficult time connecting with her peers. This video captures how she and her peers created a methods of sharing a common act on a daily basis.


Informant’s comments:

The “typical” girls that [our daughter] is friends with at school also use music and songs to connect to her. They make up dances to show the teacher and even have a secret handshake which is really an elaborate high five routine with some dance moves and a sing songy recital of the moves. I would say this is the most included that [she] has been in the classroom in a long while and it is through music and movement.

Collector’s comments: 

This seems to be a piece of true children’s folklore, the girls work on songs, dances and routines like this together. What makes this particular one special is how it is in an effort to communicate with the girl who has special needs in a way that she is capable of reciprocating. At the end of the video one girl raises her hands and begins to shake them, which symbolizes applause in American Sign Language.

Tags/Keywords: Music, Communication, Custom, Special needs, Children, Dance, American Sign Language