The itsy-bitsy spider
Went up the water spout.
Down came the rain
And washed the spider out.
Out came the sun
And dried up all the rain.
And the itsy-bitsy spider
Went up the spout again.
Depending on how you interpret the lyrics to "Itsy Bitsy Spider," this popular nursery rhyme is a celebration of determination or a lament about futility. "Itsy Bitsy Spider," alternatively known as the "Incy Wincy Spider," "Eency Weency Spider," "Ipsy Wipsy Spider" or "Ipsy Dipsy Spider," climbs up the water spout and gets forced down by a gush of rain. Once the sun reappears and dries the rain, the spider climbs right back up the spout again. That's either one tenacious arachnid, or one that foolishly pursues a task that is not working out rather than find an alternate solution.
Regardless of your take on the nursery rhyme's meaning, few are as popular as a sing-along song as "Itsy Bitsy Spider." Much of its popularity comes not just from the fun of the sing-along lyrics, but also from the hand motions that go along with them. Even babies and toddlers can grasp the idea of wriggling fingers to pantomime the spider climbing up, fluttering fingertips to signify rain, and putting arms in the air to show the sunshine bursting through the clouds to dry up all the rain. Learning these movements is great for dexterity and motor development.
Although "Itsy Bitsy Spider" has been among the most popular nursery rhymes for many years, its exact origins are unknown. Variations of the song were published in collections of sing-along songs as early as 1910. Some have theorized that the song is symbolic of class struggle -- the spider representing the proletariat, climbing up the water spout as an analogy for trying to make it, the recurring rain as the odds stacked against the lower classes, and the sun representing hope. But the reason this song has stood the test of time among popular children's nursery rhymes is simply because it's fun to sing along to.
The water spout mentioned in the lyrics is generally believed to be a reference to the part of a gutter system that helps drain rain water during a storm, but variations on the lyrics have the spider climbing up a teapot spout, though the former obviously makes more sense as far as rain threats go.
Whether you prefer your spiders itsy bitsy, eency weency, or ipsy dipsy, there's a good chance you enjoyed singing this song as a child -- and your own children do as well.
Copyright © 2011 Meredith Corporation.