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I Know An Old Lady
Who Swallowed a Fly

A Silly Campfire Song

I Know An Old Lady is a perfect campfire song!



Although it's a long song, it's easy to learn because it repeats itself over and over.




The words

I know an old woman who swallowed a fly
I don't know why she swallowed a fly
Perhaps she'll die!

I know an old woman who swallowed a spider
That wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly
I don't know why she swallowed the fly
Perhaps she'll die!

I know an old woman who swallowed a bird
How absurd to swallow a bird!
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
That wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly
I don't know why she swallowed the fly
Perhaps she'll die!

I know an old woman who swallowed a cat
Imagine that - she swallowed a cat!
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird...(and so on)

I know an old woman who swallowed a dog
What a hog, to swallow a dog!
She swallowed the dog to catch the cat...

I know an old woman who swallowed a goat
Just opened her throat and swallowed a goat
She swallowed the goat to catch the dog...

I know an old woman who swallowed a cow
I don't know how she swallowed a cow!
She swallowed the cow to catch the goat...

I know an old woman who swallowed a horse.
She's dead, of course!


Having a hard time keeping the animals straight?


Maybe this doll will help!

Your kids can stuff the animals into the old lady's mouth as you sing!


This is a great silly campfire song for most kids of all ages. If you know that your little ones will find the lyrics disturbing, though, save this one till they are older. You don't want to send them off to the tent with visions of spiders and deceased old ladies in their heads!

Some versions of the song end with "She's alive and well, of course".


Preschool teacher alert!

This song is perfect for circle time!


Read (and sing) the book to your class.



Then sing the song again, using this doll as a prop.

Be sure to get the animals, too! Your students will love taking turns inserting them into the old lady's mouth!


I Know An Old Lady trivia

  • It was written in 1952 by Rose Bonne and Alan Mills and has been popular ever since.
  • There's a great episode of "The Muppet Show" with Judy Collins singing this song! Check it out!



  • The song is on Pete Seeger's "Birds, Beasts, Bugs and Fishes" album. It has also been recorded by Burt Ives, Cyndi Lauper, Peter Paul and Mary - and countless others.




Now that you know how to sing I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly, choose some more great campfire songs.


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