“Ten Little Indians” is one of the popular American children's nursery rhymes. The word “Indian” in the lyrics refer to Native Americans. The poet of the rhyme is not known. The melody used for the rhyme is similar to the Irish folk song, “Michael Finnegan”.
Several variants of “Ten Little Indians” have been printed and published. Probably, the original piece of the song titled, “Ten Little Injuns” was written by Spetimus Winner, (an American song writer, teacher and music publisher) in 1868 for a minstrel show.
It is believed that this nursery rhyme was adapted by Frank J. Green in 1869, titled “Ten Little Niggers” as it is similar to the words, “Ten Little Indians”.
Moreover, “Ten Little Niggers” also became a vital part of the blackface minstrel shows. It was sung by Christy Minstrels (a blackface group formed by Edwin Pearce Christy). It gained great popularity in the European region, where it was used by Agatha Christie in her novel. Later, the title was renamed as “And Then There Were None”. The French and German titles of the novel are “Dix Petits Negres” and “Zehn Kleine Negerlein” respectively and have not been changed till today.
Variants of “Ten Little Indians”, which are found widely have one thing in common! All the versions are about dark-skinned boys. Songs inspired by this one of the popular nursery rhymes were published in Holland (1913), Denmark and Iceland (1922) and Finland (1940).
Modern lyrics of the rhyme are as follows:
One little, two little, three little Indians
Four little, five little, six little Indians
Seven little, eight little, nine little Indians
Ten little Indian boys.
Ten little, nine little, eight little Indians
Seven little, six little, five little Indians
Four little, three little, two little Indians
One little Indian boy.
Learn numbers with Ten Little Indians
“Ten Little Indians” is one of the best counting nursery rhymes and kids' songs to introduce numbers to your little ones. If a learning session is not entertaining, little learners and children may resist learning numbers. But if number recognition is taught by singing number songs, they will find the learning activity to be fun-filled.
So, encourage the kids, preschoolers and young children to sing or recite “Ten Little Indians” and the little minds will surely love Maths. It is the easiest and simplest way to teach numbers to toddlers and little learners.