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Children's Rhyme: There Was an

Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly





This well-known rhyme is lengthy, but it is great input for young ESL learners for several reasons. First, there is considerable repetition in it. The repetition helps build memory and fluency. Second, there are several significant grammatical structures contained in it. There are embedded questions (noun clauses) such as I don't know why she swallowed the fly and I don't know how she swallowed a cow. There is 'to' used to explain reasons. She swallowed the spider to catch the fly. There are relative clauses starting with who and that. There was an old woman who swallowed a fly. She swallowed the bird to catch the spider that wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her. The rhyme has good meter common in English (da DA da DA da DA da Da), which helps with fluency.


The rhyme is divided into four pages and I usually use a week to get students to memorize it, adding a new stanza every day. You can download the four pages here:


Old Woman Page 1 | Old Woman Page 2 | Old Woman Page 3 | Old Woman Page 4



Back to the Rhymes and Songs Section



Here is a selection of worksheets available for young learners:



 Young Learners | ABC Cards | ABC Mazes | Connect-the-Dots | First Words | Alpha Trains

Little Letters | Big Letters | Opposites | Bingo | Flashcards | Holiday Worksheets



 All materials (c) 2007 Lanternfish ESL