Mary Had a Little Lamb – Teaching Kindergarteners With Song

Friendly FYI: this site uses affiliate links. If you buy something, we might earn a small commission. Without your support, this site wouldn't be possible. Thank you! For more information, visit our Disclaimer Page.

Mary Had a Little Lamb Lyrics

Mary had a little lamb,
Little lamb, little lamb,
Mary had a little lamb,
Its fleece was white as snow

Everywhere that Mary went,
Mary went, Mary went,
Everywhere that Mary went
The lamb was sure to go

It followed her to school one day
School one day, school one day
It followed her to school one day
Which was against the rules.

It made the children laugh and play,
Laugh and play, laugh and play,
It made the children laugh and play
To see a lamb at school

And so the teacher turned it out,
Turned it out, turned it out,
And so the teacher turned it out,
But still it lingered near

And waited patiently about,
Patiently about, patiently about,
And waited patiently about
Till Mary did appear

“Why does the lamb love Mary so?”
Love Mary so? Love Mary so?
“Why does the lamb love Mary so?”
The eager children cry

“Why, Mary loves the lamb, you know.”
Loves the lamb, you know, loves the lamb, you know
“Why, Mary loves the lamb, you know.”
The teacher did reply


I know firsthand the power of a catchy nursery rhyme to capture little minds and imaginations. Of all the classic kids’ songs from my own childhood, “Mary Had a Little Lamb” remains a tried and true favorite for teaching basic literacy and life lessons to the preschool set. I still remember bleating out the familiar lyrics in my kindergarten classroom decades ago – and now my own flock joyfully sings along every time we read the storybook together.


Though short and simple in structure, this ageless rhyme offers opportunities for learning vocabulary, phonics, cause and effect relationships, and more. Let’s take a closer look at the origins and meaning behind the timeless tale of Mary and her precocious lamb!

Origins and Meaning of Mary Had a Little Lamb

While most nursery rhymes have somewhat mysterious origins that are difficult to pin down conclusively, the story behind “Mary Had a Little Lamb” is relatively clear (though my kids always clamor for me to explain it again!). The short poem was written by American writer Sarah Josepha Hale in the early 1830s, inspired by a true incident. As the tale goes, a young girl named Mary Sawyer kept a pet lamb that followed her everywhere, even to school one day. When the lamb followed Mary into the classroom, it caused a commotion that disrupted the students and teacher. As a result, the teacher ordered Mary to remove the lamb from school.

This amusing real-life anecdote was the basis for Hale’s poem, which originally included more verses than the ones typically recited today. Over time, certain stanzas like “And you each gentle animal, in confidence may bind, And make it follow at your call, if you are always kind” fell out of fashion and circulation. The sing-song rhyme and endearing story made the remaining verses endure as a children’s favorite for generations to come.

On the surface, it seems like a simple, nonsensical poem about a girl and her unconventional pet. But its lasting appeal comes from the gentle life lessons it imparts about kindness, empathy, and faithfulness. Essentially, the takeaway for wee ones is: if you show love, care, and compassion for others, you’ll be rewarded with unconditional love and loyalty in return.

The lamb in the rhyme becomes a symbol of devotion, so attached to Mary that it can’t bear to be parted from its beloved companion even for a short time at school. As both a teacher and a dad, I think there’s something touching in that message of steadfast friendship against the odds. It’s no wonder little lambs have been a staple in nurseries and classrooms for over 185 years!

The innocent poem promotes values like kindness, individuality, and responsibility, all through the lens of a sweet relationship between a child and her fluffy sidekick. What’s not to love?

Fun Facts About Mary Had a Little Lamb

  • Though Mary Had a Little Lamb was originally published anonymously in 1830, Sarah Hale later included it in a book of verses she published under her name in 1831 called Poems For Our Children.
  • In the real-life incident, Mary Sawyer was followed to school by her pet lamb in 1817 in Sterling, Massachusetts. A plaque marks the schoolhouse site where Mary’s lamb paid its famous visit.
  • The poem is partly responsible for the popularity of lamb toys and stuffed animals as gifts for babies and young children. Who doesn’t love a cuddly lamb pal?
  • Set to a sweet melody by composer Lowell Mason in the 1830s, “Mary Had a Little Lamb” is one of the few nursery rhymes that’s specifically intended to be sung.
  • The rhyme is referenced in many movies and TV shows, including Back to the Future, Lost, and Jeopardy! It has truly become part of the cultural zeitgeist.


“Mary Had a Little Lamb” has certainly stood the test of time as one of the most beloved and well-known nursery rhymes for children. Its catchy lyrics and melody make it a perfect introduction to foundational literacy concepts like rhyming and word families. The simple story also subtly imparts lessons about friendship, compassion, and loyalty that little ones can understand. While some of the archaic language and context may be unfamiliar to modern kids, the poem’s central relationship and themes remain timeless.

As a parent, it warms my heart to watch my own children’s eyes light up in recognition when they hear the familiar words or see the accompanying illustrations. Sharing songs, stories, and activities around these cornerstones of childhood bind us together and build cherished memories. I hope you’ll revisit (or discover!) “Mary Had a Little Lamb” to enjoy with the special kiddos in your life.

What favorite nursery rhymes from your own childhood still stick with you? I’d love to hear your recollections and reflections on these magical songs that span generations. Be sure to bleat out the catchy chorus loud and proud – your little lambs will thank you for it! Don’t forget to also check out my full list of 50 fun, educational nursery rhymes at Let the nursery rhyme fever continue!

Hey there! I'm Allen, but you can call me "The Corny Dad" from Canada. I have a wife and four kiddos. Yep, one's full grown, but they'll always be my babies. When I'm not doing something with my family or playing video games, I'm here, jotting down my bits of wisdom on this blog. From the fun stuff to the parenting chaos, I cover it all. Believe me, with the right attitude, parenting's a smoother ride and I'm here to help.

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest Articles