One finger one thumb keep moving.

Today millions of children will be driving their mums and grandparents potty until the schools re-open sometime in September. I join the ranks of adults who are sad the children are now on their three month holiday. Not because I have any school age children who will say “I’m bored, are we going out today”, I am sad because I miss my school pals from Cerrina School.

cerrina Alessandria news

Some of the fabulous children (Allessandria News)

During January Mrs Sensible received a phone call asking if her errant husband would like a part time job teaching English to three classes of primary school children. Initially I declined because I was busy with other work. Two weeks later the school phoned again and Mrs Sensible asked when they wanted me to start.

While Mrs Sensible gave me a pep talk on how to teach and control a class of eight year old’s I was preoccupied pondered which of my many ties I should wear.


Tigger or Simpsons, mmmm a difficult decision.

For the past couple of years I have helped Mombello School and found the experience great fun, for some unexplained reason 9 year olds accept me as one of their own……  but a class of six year old’s would be a new experience. Mrs S suggested I teach them a song, I was a little worried about this idea as on occasions my singing has frightened little children!

Monday morning as I stood at the front of the class watching little Mario pick his nose with his finger, I pointed at my bogey free finger and shouted FINGER! The kids looked at me slightly alarmed but one or two shouted back finger! I then pointed at my thumb and shouted THUMB and the kids shouted back TUM!

It took a couple of tries before the class were shouting back thumb. Over  a period of 20 minutes we worked our way through hand, arm, leg and head. When I was satisfied that they understood the words, I coaxed them into joining me, singing my rendition of One finger one thumb keep moving.


There is always one little boy who who doesn’t know the words (credit Macaronisoup)

For the first two weeks the lessons with the six year old’s went brilliantly. The kids loved the song and I was excited with their progress. One evening while I was eating my pizza, Mrs Sensible asked me how my lessons were going and which song i was teaching them, One Finger One Thumb I said. It goes like this….. I put my pizza to one side, stood up and pointed at my finger and then my thumb, I sang One finger one thumb  keep moving, one finger one thumb keep moving, one finger one thumb keep moving we’ll all be merry and bright.Mrs Sensible was transfixed.

As I sang I watched Mrs Sensible screw her eyes up as I hit one or three bad notes, Mrs S gamely sat through my song until I reached the bit that goes… One finger, one thumb, one hand one arm and as I patted my arm Mrs Sensible very nearly choked on her piece of pizza. Noooo she said, please tell me you haven’t taught a class of 6 year olds this song!


Even the cat looked surprised

Erh! yes, its a good song, they are learning parts of their body and….

You taught them the movements?

Oh for sure, I have the kids stood up tapping their fingers, thumbs arms and singing their little hearts out, they love it.

Oh I bet they do!

Why! Oh I bet they do?

Pecora… Just do the arm bit again, don’t bother with the singing, just the motions.

I tapped my arm and sang (ever so slightly out of tune) one finger, one thumb, one hand, one arm we’ll all be merry and bright.

Mrs S shouted, In Italy tapping your arm and raising it like that is a swear word!


Beppe Grillo singing my song

In my defense, I didn’t clench my fist, nor did I raise my arm quite as high, ok maybe high enough so that Maria at the back of the class could see me, and in my naivety I didn’t see how tapping my arm could be construed as a swear word.

Mrs Sensible was mortified. She said the chilblains would be going home and singing my song to their parents, even I had to admit it was a little bit of a problem.

It took three weeks to reeducate my class of six year olds that it was not necessary to tap and raise ones arm, it was sufficient to simply point at it. All except Mario the nose picker who much preferred the original version.

37 thoughts on “One finger one thumb keep moving.

  1. Oh boy. You do get in some predicaments. Your post made me laugh. Love the word chilblains. We use it here sometimes- have no idea where it came from. The English perhaps? 🙂

    And the nose picker? There is one in every crowd, I mean classroom.

    The pic of the cat is the best. What a handsome or beautiful cat- don’t know if it is male or female.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m sure that the chilblains loved having you as a teacher. Mate you should try heads shoulders knees and toes next time – they’re well tired after 20 minutes 🙂
    We have the same arm gesture in France – I used it once when I was very cross with the French lorry drivers who had blocked the motorway we were driving along. PF was vert worried to see MM hanging out off the window making the gesture you describe, but what was coming out of my mouth was NOT one finger one thumb keep moving.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I had great fun with the kids, there are two or three I would love to adopt, with the exception of Mario the nose picker

      Mrs S uses hands shoulders knees and toes, I just wanted to try something different


    • Teaching the chilblains was a great experience, for the first time in my life I actually looked forward to Monday mornings and a school morning at that.

      The teacher asked me to create a lesson teaching the correct words for clothing. So the night before I sat down with a glass of wine and had a little think. I find wine always stimulates the little grey cells. Taking a rather large holdall I raided both Mrs Sensible’s and my wardrobes. The following morning I invited the kids one by one to come to the front of the class and play lucky dip in the huge holdall.

      To get a star on the board they had to successfully name the item of clothing they had pulled from the bag… you can imagine the whoops of laughter when little Marco dragged out one of Mrs Sensible’s frocks.

      I was supposed to be teaching My Daily Routine with the next class, however the teacher who sits in on my lessons asked me to repeat the Clothing lesson with the older kids. I think I get more out of the lessons than the kids do…

      Liked by 2 people

  3. This post gave me a happy early morning start. I’ll bet those kiddies would like to have you as a permanent fixture in the classroom. Don’t worry, the holidays will fly by and you’ll be back with your little friends.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hilarious! What a fun teacher you must be! I taught two years of Kindergarten and one year of first/second combo. Kids that age are so much fun and can do so much they surprise you.

    Liked by 1 person

        • Lol, yes I have seen that one,

          Last Sunday a friend of Mrs Sensible gave us a lift in her car…. I have never been so scared, the woman used one hand to steer and one hand to communicate with, at times she became so excited and animated that she used both hands to communicate and only grabbed the steering wheel when we looked like we might leave the road.

          I have a great picture of Mrs S frantically gripping the sides of her chair as she attempted to fight off a close case of hysteria


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