There are several nursery rhymes in English that include long lists. "There was an old lady who swallowed a fly", and "This is the house that Jack built" are but two examples. Although I have found many websites that include German nursery-rhymes, I have not managed to find any long-list-style rhymes. I'd like to hear about some, as well as learn any search strategy that locates them without knowing their specific names.

  • Not sure whether listing multiple rhymes as answers would be ok (doesn’t comply with the SE format), but asking for the name and possibly search terms is fine, IMHO.
    – Stephie
    Commented Sep 12, 2020 at 9:06

2 Answers 2


The type of poems that you are looking for are Zählreime or Zählgeschichten.

There are a few common patterns, either counting up or down one instance per iteration (Zehn kleine Negerlein) or with increasing verse length due to repeating the previous elements (Der Bauer schickt den Jockel aus)

Sadly, googling for the two terms may lead to different results - „Zählreime“ will often give you „Abzählreime“ (counting out rhymes), „Zählgeschichten“ often stories for kids starting to count.

  • "Der Bauer schickt den Jockel aus" is exactly the kind of rhyme I was looking for. It has the nice feature for a language learner (in the same way that "The house that Jack built" does) of having many different nouns and verbs and therefore being a great way to add to ones vocabulary. Commented Sep 11, 2020 at 3:23

I don't know if this classifies as nursery rhyme, but I learned this poem from other children when I was in elementary school in the early 1970ies:

Start talking very slowly and increase speed, so that you are very fast at the end.

Es war einmal ein Mann,
der hatte einen Schwamm.
Der Schwamm war ihm zu nass,
da legt er sich ins Gras.
Das Gras war ihm zu grün,
da fährt er nach Berlin.
Berlin war ihm zu groß,
da kauft er sich ein Schloss.
Das Schloss war ihm zu klein,
da kauft er sich ein Schwein.
Das Schwein war ihm zu fett,
da legt er sich ins Bett.
Das Bett war ihm zu weich,
da springt er in den Teich.
Der Teich war ihm zu tief,
da macht er einen Pfiff.
Der Pfiff war ihm zu laut,
da fuhr er aus der Haut.

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