A classic children's rhyme comes to life when kids pretend to be a teapot that's tipping over.


I'm a little teapot

short and stout.

Here is my handle;

Here is my spout.

When I get all steamed up

Hear me shout,

Tip me over and pour me out!

The fun children's song "I'm a Little Teapot" dates back to the days when most middle-class children were expected to take dancing lessons. In 1939, a dancing master named Clarence Z. Kelley and his wife ran a dancing school. The smallest children had difficulty learning a step called the Waltz Clog, so Kelley asked his friend George Harold Sanders to help him create a simple song-and-dance routine. Thus "The Teapot Song" was born, along with the accompanying dance called "The Teapot Tip."

The rhyming song and accompanying dance quickly became popular both in America and abroad, and the song was published by the Kelman Music Corporation as sheet music promoted by Ronnie Kemper and the Horace Heidt Orchestra. Kemper was the first major musician to sing the rhyming children's tune in public. Today the sing-along song is popular among kindergarteners and preschoolers as a song for circle time, and much waggling of the hips accompanies the phrase "When I get all steamed up."

Here are the lyrics to the full song, with the moves:

I'm a little teapot

Short and stout,

Here is my handle (one hand on hip);Here is my spout (other arm out with elbow and wrist bent),When I get all steamed up,

Hear me shout,

Tip me over and pour me out! (lean over toward spout)

I'm a special teapot,

Yes, it's true,

Here's an example of what I can do:

I can turn my handle into a spout. (switch arms)Tip me over and pour me out!

An alternate version is attributed to the English comedian Stephen Fry, who reportedly performed the skit on British television series QI (Quite Interesting):

I'm a little teapot short and stout,

Here is my handle (puts one hand on hip)Here is my spout (puts other hand on hip)

(Looks confused) Oh, (*expletive*) it, I'm a sugar bowl!

This comedic version was picked up in America and performed on Saturday Night Live in the skit "Gidget Goes to Shock Therapy":

I'm a little teapot, short and stout.

Here is my handle, here is my...

Handle... Gosh, I'm a sugar bowl!

The music for "I'm a Little Teapot" was recorded by Frank De Vol and His Orchestra and produced by Capitol Records in 1952. Various other orchestras have performed the children's rhyming song, and it remains a popular orchestral piece for youth bands.