Jack Sprat

Jack Sprat could eat no fat,
His wife could eat no lean.
And so between them both, you see,
They licked the platter clean.

Jack Sprat


The nursery rhyme of Jack Sprat has been around for centuries. The saying ‘Jack Sprat’ was used of people of small stature in the 16th century and it was featured in John Clarke’s Collection of Sayings in 1639:
Jack will eat not fat, and Jull doth love no leane.
Yet betwixt them both they lick the dishes cleane.

The phrase ‘Jack Sprat could eat no fat, his wife could eat no lean, and so between them both, you see, they licked the platter clean’ was first published in the book Mother Goose’s Melody in 1765


Charles I  and HenriettaThere have been various suggestions as to the true meaning of the nursery rhyme of Jack Sprat. Some theories suggest that the characters of Jack Sprat represent King Charles I and his wife Henrietta Maria and the saying writes itself off as a satire on a public figure or alternatively, King John and his wife Isabella. 
The most widely accepted meaning of the rhyme is that it is talking about the different ideas and preferences of couples. The idea being that the couple would come to agree on something or compromise on an idea as neither one liked the same thing. 

Children's Activities

One great way to get children involved in the nursery rhyme of ‘Jack Sprat’ is to get them to create their own mini comic strip telling the story of Jack Sprat. All they will need is some coloring materials, paper, and their imaginations! 
You can also create your own matching game out of the words and characters in the phrase. Use cards with each word written on them and have the children match the correct words to the correct characters. This will be great fun and help them to understand the story better! 
Lastly, why not get your children to make their own version of the phrase. This could be something amusing and creative such as ‘Bob Sprat loved to eat cake, his wife loved to eat ice cream, so between them both, you see, they licked the bowl clean.’