Manipulating variables in “Little Bunny Foo Foo”


Don’t worry, “Little Bunny Foo Foo” is not the Song of the Week. Like many children’s songs, it goes through a set number of repetitions1 based on the dubious theory that repetition both appeals to kids AND is good for them.

My daughter, The Frogger, has discovered that, while the number of repetitions (N) has a traditional value (N=3), it is a manipulable variable which can be set at multiple values with effects on the enjoyment of the singers.

The traditional song can be described as “Little Bunny Foo Foo, N=3″:

Little Bunny Foo Foo,
Hopping through the forest
Scooping up the field mice
And boppin’ ’em on the head

Down came the good fairy and she said

“Little Bunny Foo Foo,
I don’t want to see you
Scooping up the field mice
And boppin’ ’em on the head.
I’ll give you three chances,
And if you don’t behave
I’ll turn you into a goon!”3

We have experimented4 with a range of values for N and have discovered a significant generational effect on the relationship between the number of repetitions and enjoyment:

For those of you not into genetic cross notation, in a three generation pedigree, the P0 generation is the grandparents, the F1 is the parents, and the F2 is the kids. See, the joke is the parents get tired really fast, but as grandparents their patient enjoyment of annoyance is boundless. Get it.

Actually, I think this totally made up graph suggests that the traditional number of repetitions (3) is the result of trade-offs between parents and offspring to maximize group enjoyment.


  1. Think monkeys jumping on beds, swimming ducks, bottles of beer on the wall. . .
  2. “Little Bunny Foo Foo” lyrics from KIDiddles.
  3. There seems to be some debate about what precisely the good fairy threatens to turn Foo Foo into. Nationalistic warfare is based on such arguments.
  4. None of the procedures in these experiments on human subjects have been reviewed by, let alone approved by, any Institutional Review Board.


Author: Josh Witten

One thought on “Manipulating variables in “Little Bunny Foo Foo””

  1. The P0 generation is the grandparents? Nonsense! Teletubbies only started in 1997, which means its oldest audience members are only about 20 years old (assuming they started watching at age 5). Hence, the Po generation is far too young to be grandparents. Your argument is invalid.

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