Kids love exploring the impossible. As they develop their understanding of how the world works, they find humor in stories and songs that break the rules. Our three year old giggled endlessly the first time we read the book I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly. With each new animal he sputtered out, “No! She can’t” between fits of laughter.
I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, published by the Secret Mountain, has beautiful illustrations that captivated Scott from the beginning. This boy has claimed ownership of this book and is very particular about if and when anyone else can read it. The book comes with a CD containing 12 songs, the first of which is I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly. There are 16 pages of the book devoted to illustrating this song.
The other 11 songs are included after, each with a 2 page spread of the lyrics and accompanying illustrations. Scott will sit for the entire length of this album and follow along in the book. His favorite of the additional songs is “Sailing Over the Sea” or as he calls it, “The Pirate Song.” My favorite is “Heel, Toe, and Away We Go” about traveling to different places in the world. I always love a good traveling song!
Read and Do: I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly
To enjoy the silliness of this story, here’s a fun activity where you or your little one can turn into the old lady and (pretend) eat all those animals! The kids all laughed so hard when I came out in a silver wig and apron. We sang the song together so kids could remember which animal came next. It also allowed us to pause for a little acting when needed. But you could also do it while listening to Thomas Hellman and Emilie Clepper sing it.
I collected a (butter)fly, spider, bird, cat, dog, goat, cow and horse from our collection of stuffed animals and figurines. Next, I spread them out on the table in a random order to further require the kids to remember which came next. After we had all taken turns and it was time to clean up, I put all the animals in a basket with the book that received a lot of play the remainder of the week.
I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly is available on Amazon and in iBooks. The iBooks version has a narration option and includes 2 songs. Scott loved flipping through the book on the iPad. Though he very much loves the hard copy.
Learning with I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly
Kids need to hear the same thing again, and again, and again. It’s a necessary part of their learning process. As adults we often tire more quickly of a particular song (Let It Go, anyone?) or a particular book (Good Night Moon, right?) but for our children, these repeated exposures are slowly and firmly building a framework for understanding language, emotions, information, relationships, LIFE! Listening, singing, and reading I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly over and over is engaging for you little one as they see different patterns with each exposure.
Math: Each creature she eats gets progressively larger. Sizes small, medium and large are great preschool math concepts. Comparing them to each other teaches spatial awareness in an abstract way, for example, by asking which is bigger, the spider or the horse.
Science: Animals are a great science topic for little ones. Learning about different animals, how they live, what they do and eat, and then learning about their relationships with each other. Dogs chase cats and cats chase birds which eat insects.
Language Arts: There is great vocabulary in I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly. Words like absurd and wriggle are fun words to know. As kids are singing this song, they have multiple chances to practice simple words while they are first learning to talk. One kindergarten readiness skill is for children to be able to tell a story in the correct order. Since the chorus of I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly repeats adding one new action each time, this is great practice for remembering the order of actions in a story.
I hope you and your little one have as much fun with this activity as we have had! I’d love to see you or your child dressed up as the old lady.