To Thread - Forum Home

The Mudcat Café TM
76 messages

Songs to sing with Children

27 Aug 97 - 09:22 PM (#11333)
Subject: Songs to sing with Children

Looking for new songs to sing to (and with) my kids. I have searched and browsed through digital traditions and plucked out many songs we love. Many of the songs I learned in 3rd and 4th grade music class are favorites, such as Erie Canal, Waltzing Matilda, Clemintine, and Grandfathers Clock. But I'm sure that I am missing out on lots of great songs. We would like very much to learn some new songs. Please recommend your favorites. We have migrated into pop/rock, a little and like to sing Edmund Fitzgerald, Boy Named Sue, and Gimmie Three Steps, to name a few. Here's hoping y'all can come up with some suggestions.

Chris (Dada), Max and Ella Roehm Florida

27 Aug 97 - 10:20 PM (#11335)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: rechal

There was a great thread going here a week or so again called "Songs for Scouts," which was about singing with kids. Type "scout" in the box by "search threads" and set your filter to 7 days.

Another thread to check would be "Family Singalongs." Have fun!

27 Aug 97 - 11:30 PM (#11339)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: John Nolan

There's also the likes of "You'll get a belt from yer da," and "The Craw killed the Pussy-o," if you think your kids should have an all-round musical education.

27 Aug 97 - 11:35 PM (#11341)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: alison


"You'll get a belt from yer da.", is probably in the database under the title "Liverpool lullabye".



28 Aug 97 - 11:33 AM (#11363)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Jon W.

See my Fly paper thread. If anyone is interested in the tune for that song, email me at and I'll try and get it into MIDI and/or ABC format in the next few days.

28 Aug 97 - 12:34 PM (#11373)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Peter T.

If you want a few British songs, you might try "".... This includes (but alas with no chords) the immortal "mouse who lived in a windmill" (a kid's favourite).

Yours, Peter

28 Aug 97 - 01:54 PM (#11378)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children

I haven't checked the db, but the tune "Be Kind To Your Parents" by Tom Paxton ... yes it must've been there. "The Cat Came Back" ... you mention your own 3d, 4th grade memories, but not your kids ages. For younger kids, the Canadian entertainer Raffi does scads of traditional stuff, and good originals like "Baby Beluga" ... regards, Dennis Wood

28 Aug 97 - 02:12 PM (#11380)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: rechal

Sandy and Caroline Paton have a record (or used to) on Folkways called "I've Got a Song." It's terrific.

Sharon, Lois & Bram are a Canadian trio whose first two albums were especially good. I think the first one might have been called "One Elephant, Deux El├ęphants."

"Free to be you and me" was a television special put together by Marlo Thomas in the 70s. Don't know if the record or songbook is still available, but they had charming songs and stories read and sung by people like Alan Alda, Rosie Grier, Carol Channing, Dan Smothers, and more.

Barry Louis Polisar is a children's entertainer who writes songs with titles like "Never Cook Your Sister In a Frying Pan," "You Can't Say Sssppplllbbbhhhh on the Radio," "Sally Eats Shoelaces, Straw and String," and "They Said Eat the Broccoli."

I don't know how many, if any, of these are still available, but they're pretty terrific. You might also try your local library for historical records such as Leadbelly singing with children, Ella Jenkins, Malvina Reynolds, and so on.

28 Aug 97 - 03:19 PM (#11392)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Joe Offer

My kids have always loved the songs from Sesame Street. Even my 24-yr-old punk rocker still sings 'em. Tom Chapin has some wonderful CD's of original stuff, and somebody already mentioned Tom Paxton. I haven't heard Ella Jenkins myself, but there are scads of Ella Jenkins CD's that have been reissued recently.
My favorite children's recordings are the songs that have withstood the test of time. There are wonderful recordings of more traditional children's songs from Priscilla Herdman, John McCutcheon, Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer, and Fred Penner.
I discovered Fred Penner in the 99-cent bin at the Tower Outlet. He has TWO recordings of "The Cat Came Back," for a grand total of about eleventy-seven verses.
28 Aug 97 - 03:30 PM (#11394)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: DrWord

Heather Bishop "Belly button, belly button" Charlotte Diamond "Ten Carrot Diamond" is one recording Penner does the old tune "It went bop when it stopped ... " And yes!!! the Henson &crew classics!!! Start a thread? :) dennis

28 Aug 97 - 06:40 PM (#11426)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Tim Jaques

Rare Bog. Me Father's Old Sou'wester False Knight On The Road My Uncle Walter Dances With Bears I'm My Own Grampa Logdriver's Waltz

In addition, Prince Edward Island folksinger Terese Doyle has a tape out -- I have the tape, don't know about CD's -- entitled "Dance To Your Daddy: A Child's Introduction To Celtic Music." Although she can write a decent song herself all of the songs are traditional on this one. (One is in French) The fiddler on the tape is the eccentric and amusing Oliver Schroer, he of the band The Stewed Tomatoes, and there are various guest singers including Modabo and Nancy White.

Bedlam Records, RR #3 Belfast, Prince Edward Island, Canada C0A 1A0, telephone and fax 902 838 2973. Tape is Bedlam TDCA005 although I suspect that the above address is her home so if you called you will probably get her.

It is quite enjoyable for adults too.

28 Aug 97 - 06:50 PM (#11427)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children

Thanks for all of the replies, exactly what I wanted. Scores (pun intended) of new songs for us. Kids ages are 7 and 9 since somebody asked. One of the replies made me think about the Schoolhouse Rock songs that aired on ABC about 20 years ago. I know they made somewhat of a comeback and even some alternative rock band recorded them. I wonder if they are in the database here. I will check now. If not, anybody have those lyrics?


28 Aug 97 - 08:44 PM (#11439)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Raven-Skies

I always liked "UNICORNS (Green Alligators)" which can be found in the database under that name. You may already have plucked that one out, though.

28 Aug 97 - 11:31 PM (#11450)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: dwditty

Check out Dave Van Ronk's version of Peter and the Wolf. Believe it or not, the entire piece is done with a jug band. Very tasty. Side 2 (or the rest of the CD) is a set of songs including Teddy Bears' Picinic, Swinging on a Star, Mairsy Doats, etc. My kids have loved the songs. I believe it is Alcazar label out of Vermont.

29 Aug 97 - 01:48 AM (#11458)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Rosemary

Sorry if I'm a little late for this thread but I just joined. There is a fantastic collection in book form called "Animal Folk Songs for Children---Traditional American Songs" by Ruth Crawford Seeger. (Linnet Books, Shoestring Press, ISBN 0-208-02364-X) This collection was originally published in 1950 but was reprinted by Linnet in 1993. The great thing about this book is that tapes are also available. The tapes themselves are very good, with the songs treated as legitimate music rather than cutesy versions for kids.

29 Aug 97 - 05:57 AM (#11474)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Shula

A few more suggestions:

"The Teddy Bear's Picnic," "The Happy Wanderer," "The Marvelous Toy," -- all at this website!

Rounds: "White Coral Bells," "Dona Nobis Pachem" (or "Yasem Lanu Shalom", if you prefer Hebrew), "Kookaburra," "The Snap, Crackle Pop (Rice Krispies) Song."

Nonsense songs: e.g., The Huma-huma-nuka-nuka appawaha Song about a small Hawaiian fish (I believe), Boom, Boom Diddum, Diddum, Mairzy Doats, which has a second verse about whales, eels, seals, fish, oysters and squid, ("A squiddley-doysters too...").

Movies: songs from Hans Christian Anderson ("The Ugly Duckling," "Inchworm," "Thumbelina," etc.), Mary Poppins, the older Disney cartoon features. What about songs besides the obvious O.T.R. from The Wizard of Oz? Check out pre-1970's musicals, and operettas like those of Gilbert & Sullivan to broaden young tastes before adolescence sets in. Rent the movie version of Pirates Of Penzance, starring Linda Ronstadt (the U.K., NOT the Aussie. version, which is too racy for kids) and see if any of the music appeals to your children.

Folk-Rock: James Taylor's "Sweet Baby James" and "You Can Close Your Eyes"; "Joy To The World" (a.k.a.: "Jeremiah Was A Bullfrog").

Albums: Peter, Paul, and MOMMY, any of Burl Ives recordings for children. Free To Be You and ME, mentioned by rechal, is an excellent P.C. collection; "I'm Being Swallowed by a Boa Constrictor", from this album, is great giggling fun to act out!

Book of Lyrics: Rise Up Singing, The Group Singing Songbook, by Peter Blood and Annie Patterson, has words and chords to 1200 songs, many of them suitable for children, in a deceptively small, child-friendly, paperback volume.

Some personal favourites: "Wynken, Blynken and Nod," "Cockles and Mussels," and "Mockingbird."

Hope this is some help.


29 Aug 97 - 07:57 PM (#11518)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Barry Finn

Allen Sherman's my son the folk singer (my intro in the 50's) was a good one for kids, if I remember right. "The Barefoot Boy With Boots On" & "Why Paddy's Not At Work Today" Barry

29 Aug 97 - 10:48 PM (#11532)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Nathan (

Mike and Peggy Seeger have a two-CD set "American Folk Songs for Children" with their renditions of the songs from their mother's book. Also check out Trout Fishing In America--that's the group, I forget the name of their children's album; it includes "The Cat Came Back," "Pico de Gallo" and lots of other gems. Also, Harvey Reid's "Steel Driving Man" is a great recording of folk songs, most of which are appropriate for children.

30 Aug 97 - 06:03 PM (#11570)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Steve in Wisconsin

I have to add another plug for Tom Chapin's "family stuff." In particular, check out "State Laughs" and "long Way Home." These are fairly easy to pick up and the kids love 'em. I do the above with my 4th graders and have also done "Billy the Squid" (In the Pink Coral Lounge-that's a sand bar...a beautiful mullusk, a real living dollusk, her name was Clamity Jane..."). :-)

Don't forget Bill Staines' "All God's Critters". Also, check out Red Grammer's kid's stuff.



31 Aug 97 - 03:01 PM (#11582)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: jossephine

A wonderful collection of Irish children's songs (in English) can be found on Eithne Ni hUallachain and Len Graham's albulm titled "When I was young" 1996. They also released an earlier collection of children's songs in Irish.

Highly recommended. Details available if you need.

Happy singing.

31 Aug 97 - 10:32 PM (#11600)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Okie

Trout Fishing in America and Valdy both are fine children;s performers. Caught them both at the Threadgill Theatre at the the Kerrville Folk Festival. Woody Guthrie also wrote many songs for children including Little Arlo for his son.

31 Aug 97 - 11:43 PM (#11606)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children

Squid -- The songs from "Schoolhouse Rock" have been released on CD. There are several, I think; I have "Grammar Rock" which was my favorite when I was a kid. Includes "Lolly Lolly Get Your Adverbs Here," "Conjunction Junction" and all those other parts of speech too.

I'm in Virginia visiting my parents at the moment, and don't have access to my CD, but I know it has the lyrics on it. Let me know if you'd like to buy the CD or if there's one or two songsin particular you'd like me to post.

Glad to see your original post garnered such an enthusiastic response.

01 Sep 97 - 12:08 AM (#11612)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Squid

I would have liked to respond personally to the sender of the previous message in this thread only it doesn't say who posted the message time stamped 31-Aug-97 - 11:43 PM . Additionally, many of the other messages dont have the email address. Is that Mudcat policy?

I would like ALL the lyrics to "Schoolhouse Rock". Yes, I am interested in buying the CD, are you saying you want to sell it?

I am also very pleased with the number and quality of the responses my request generated. This is a great group. I am certainly no expert on music but I hope to be able to contribute.


01 Sep 97 - 05:08 PM (#11631)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Joe Offer

Hi, Squid - You can find the Schoolhouse Rock CD's at I'd like to find another, smaller, more politically correct company to recommend, but I haven't found anyone with a wider selection and quicker service. The prices are cheaper at BMG Compact Disc Club, and you can't get better advice or friendlier people than you'll find at Folk-Legacy. But CDNow is where you'll find "Schoolhouse Rock."

Sometimes, people forget to put their name in the "from" box in messages in this forum. If they register as members, the box is filled in automatically, and they also can send and receive private messages, and even chat. Some people put their e-mail addresses in messages if they want an e-mail reply. You see a lot of that in newsgroups - people want an e-mail reply because they don't check the newsgroup very often. I suppose I usually send an e-mail reponse if that's what's requested, but I also usually post a public response. I think responding only by e-mail detracts from the advantage of an open forum like this. There's an interesting dynamic that goes on here - in the process of sharing information, we become friends.

02 Sep 97 - 07:44 PM (#11685)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Tim Jaques

Another two that come to mind are that one about the lady sailing down the Nile on the back of a crocodile, and the one that goes:

Don't go in the lions' cage tonight, mother dear, For the lions are ferocious and they bite, mother dear, And if they take a hairy fit, they will tear you all to bits, So please don't go in the lions' cage tonight, mother dear.

I've often wondered if they have been recorded by anyone. My mother used to sing them to me and swore she had learned them out of a songbook, not made them up.

Speaking of singing to children, did anyone read the recent article, I think in the NYTimes, that says children are more likely to learn to sing themselves if sung to while still babies? I've always maintained this and am pleased to see that I have been vindicated by modern science.

03 Sep 97 - 12:24 AM (#11696)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: BK

I know I've heard the "don't go in the lion's cage" recorded by someone., probably on an old LP, in my eclectic mish-mash, (and, not fully unpacked) collection of recordings. If I ever get the time I can try to find it...

A lot of great responses to this thread. There is a very cute little number called "What Happenned to the Dinosaurs?" by Paul Strausman. (it mentions dimeterodon along w/the dinosaurs - tehnically an error; it was a "mamal-like" reptile, not a dinosaur - a minor problem, but some of us would like the currently fashionable "dino-mania" to be accurate) Ithink its been recorded on several kid-folk albums. I know I have it on a little tape dated 1984, entitled "All Together" by "musical friends," along w/some other really neat stuff, from a child-oriented recording company called "A Gentle Wind," Box 3103, Albany New York, 12203. (this adrress is from then; who knows by now if they still exist?)

cheers, bk

03 Sep 97 - 10:02 AM (#11716)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Tim Jaques

As I mentioned on the Oranges and Lemons thread, I believe that most if not all of the rhymes in Mother Goose have tunes to them. My mother used to sing almost all of them to me. She could also sing some of the nonsense poems in Alice In Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass. "You Are Old, Father William" is a good song for kids. There must surely be recordings somewhere.

I used to like My Grandfather's Clock when I was a child.

03 Sep 97 - 12:06 PM (#11734)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: BBJ

I used to have "Don't Go In The Lion's Cage Tonight" on a Max Morath album, a collection of piano rags.

03 Sep 97 - 12:53 PM (#11736)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Jack

My freind Julie who teaches music in elementary school just bought the entire Schoolhouse Rock boxed set, thinking they would have the lyrics included in the liner notes. Au Contraire! The liner notes are strictly the history of Schoolhouse Rock, and where to send the $20 or so extra dollars you have to spend to get the words to the songs. What a jip!


03 Sep 97 - 02:40 PM (#11739)
Subject: ADD: Apples and Bananas
From: rechal

Squid --

That was my anonymous post the evening of August 31. I forgot that my stepfather's computer doesn't have my membership cookie.

In response to Jack -- I could just about swear that the lyrics are on my CD. I'll check when I get home tonight (if I get home--looks like all hell broke loose while I was gone).

Does anybody remember "I'm bringing home a baby bumblebee?" It was my favorite song when I was five.

And if anybody, anywhere, knows how to get their hands on the Alice In Wonderland poems-set-to-music thing, please let me know. They're my favorite books, and I already have most of the poems committed to memory.

Disney did an Alice in Wonderland movie--perhaps the songs originated there?

There's also the "Apples and Bananas" vowel song --


I like to eat
Eat, eat, eat
I like to eat
Apples and bananas
(Each verse 2X)

A lake to ate
Ate, ate, ate
A lake to ate
Ay-pples and bay-nay-nays

E leek to eat
Eat, eat, eat
E leek to eat
Ee-pples and beneenies

(And so on for i, o, u)

Final verse:

Now we are through
Through, through, through
Now we are through
With a-e-i-love you.



03 Sep 97 - 03:27 PM (#11743)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Peter T.

Dear Rechal, was that a modest plea for Skinnamarink? I have both words and music. A model for the use of diminished chords! Yours, Peter

03 Sep 97 - 04:06 PM (#11745)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Tim Jaques

Just listened to the new Chris Foster tape Sting In The Tail.

There are two songs on it excellent for younger kids: Herring's Head, listed as traditional, and The Neighbour's Cat, written by L. Rosselson, whoever that might be.

As to the Alice poems set to music, I don't know if they came from Disney but I suspect my mother knew them before the movie came out. I can still sing "You Are Old, Father William", but have forgotten "Speak Roughly To Your Little Boy" and "' 'Tis the Voice of the Lobster".

I'll ask her.

03 Sep 97 - 04:25 PM (#11751)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Tim Jaques

I should have also mentioned The Darby Ram, which is on the aforesaid tape although any number of people have done it. A close relative of this song is When I Was A Little Boy, which I heard sung by Roy Harris. They are both in the category of "liar's songs".

03 Sep 97 - 05:40 PM (#11759)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Peter T.

No, God, no, never Disney. You have to ask? From the people who gave us the Little Mermaid with a happy ending??? A HAPPY ENDING????? And the desecration of The Jungle Books and Winnie-the-Pooh, and (where would I begin) the settling of North America, the natural ecology of Africa, Greek mythology, the Arabian nights, what else is left?! Oh yes, sure possibly, famous Disney tunes: Boogie with me Sweet Daddy William? Eat Me, Drink Me, Wink Me Honey? Twas Brilliant and the Slimy Things Did Gyrate and Shimmy in the Dark Wood? (Words too too Difficult you know). Disney!!! it is to chortle. Yours, Peter

03 Sep 97 - 06:01 PM (#11763)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Jon W.

Rechal, I've seen the Baby Bumblebee song sung by my daughter (I forget which one) within the last year or so. It was cute and funny too. Do you need the lyrics? If so, I'll make an effort to get them posted. I don't have them memorized. But I do remember it ending up with the bumble bee smashed.

03 Sep 97 - 06:05 PM (#11766)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Tim Jaques

The song about Bringing Home A Baby Bumblebee was done on one of the Bugs Bunny or Looney Tunes episodes. As I recall, it was stork delivering a baby who sang it.

03 Sep 97 - 07:40 PM (#11772)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Sharon

One of the Song Sisters tapes, they're from Michigan, has it on it

03 Sep 97 - 08:12 PM (#11773)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: rechal

Thank you, gentle people for all the kind offers of lyrics. I know the lyrics to Skinnamarink and Bumblebee; guess I just felt like starting an impromptu singalong.

Peter, you are refreshingly cynical.

03 Sep 97 - 10:05 PM (#11776)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Squid

I think Robert Fulgham wrote an essay about singing to children. He tells about how he visits a Kindergarten and asks the kids to raise their hands if they can sing. All do. He goes to a high school and asks the same question. Very few hands. Do children lose the ability to sing somewhere between age 5 and 15? 'Course not. They are not encouraged to sing and they think that they have to have perfect pitch to be able to sing. Wish I could quote chapter and verse, but it was one of his collections of essays.

04 Sep 97 - 02:16 AM (#11789)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Joe Offer

Hey, Rechal, can you post the lyrics for "Skinnamarink" for us? That's one I haven't heard. And I dutifully checked the database, and they're not there.
Say, I think we ought to sing a chorus or two of "It's a Small World After All" to get Peter's goat. I dunno - there are lots of Disney songs I've liked over the years (but "small world" ain't one of 'em).
Sure would like those Skinnamarink lyrics....
-Joe Offer-

04 Sep 97 - 11:06 AM (#11813)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Peter T.

Happy to atone for my outburst (tomorrow, if I can find the music) with Skinnamarink. I also liked the old Disney songs (who can resist Cruella de Ville?), and I have no quarrel with the deft lyrics/music of most of the songs in Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast. They sort of create a space for themselves: it is bastardization of the stories that bothers me, and the sad knowledge that in spite of the propaganda no child I know has ever been prompted to go back to the originals. They are highly crafted, commercial junk. I guess it is not new: is there anybody out there, except for Italian children, who even knows that Pinocchio is a beautiful original story? On the other hand, perhaps there has been a cultural shift for which Disney is not entirely to blame (try capital for a start). There is a sense in early Disney that the stories have an integrity that the filmakers are captive to, because film is new, and stories are old. There was a capacity, not a great one, for dealing with death and sadness as an integral part of children's stories. As we move further into today, the stories become secondary, and the movie event primary. You stop getting a sense that the movie is a retelling of the story: because no one has any memory left of the original story, because no one is telling it any more until the movie comes out. You also notice that the songs become performances and stop being songs. End of gripe. Sorry to hijack the thread. I've stopped now.

Yours, Peter

05 Sep 97 - 12:03 AM (#11853)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: BK

Peter T - keep on griping; you're right, sad to say...

Great to see the many responses here - a friend and I are trying to sort out vague plans we have for getting back into kid's songs, after too many years of being toooo busy and too adult (very nominally, in my case) to sing very often specifically for kids. (too many to's!! maybe we can make a song out of that....) Did somebody metion the sung version of "Winken, Blinken and Nod?" I was recently told that it was on an albumn by a famous pop group; I don't know abt that but I learned it from the singing of a family folk group that performed frequently near Albany, NY, at the Cafe' Entre Nu (probably spelled that wrong!!) in the 60's. I bought a guitar from the gal in the group. still have it.

I noticed a lot of folks mentioned Tom Paxton's "Marvellous Toy," though not always by that name - I still do that, and sang it to a bunch of younger kids the other day at church, who responded w/the true mark of acceptance by asking me to sing it again, several times... You can really have fun with it, and involve them by hamming up, (and slowing down), the chorus, and encouraging them to sing along... it can be a great break-the-ice, get-them-started song that way (experiment with it! it's fun, even by yourself => buzzzzzzz the Z in "zip," POP! the "bop, " Rrrrrrrrrroll the R's in "whirr;" you get the picture....)

I also still do the Unicorn Song, and it too really goes over well; also "hi, diddle, diddle." Recently learned "Coulters' Candy" - a more or less understandable version of the words, rather than heavy brogue - took me years to find - but I think it's more for the adults - esp parents; but that's ok too...

Somehow I don't think I'd try "Liverpool Lullaby" with kids; I like it, but even some adults I know think it's a bit harsh.

cheers, bk

05 Sep 97 - 11:27 AM (#11867)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Jon W.

One of the funniest things I ever saw in my life was when I went with my wife to a reunion concert of her old college a-cappella choir. Afterwards they had a little party and a guy got up and did this rhythmic chant - no real melody to it but great for doing with kids. Its a call and response type thing with each line repeated by the "chorus" after the leader says it.

(first get a rocking, hand clapping rhythm going)

I say a BOOM chicka boom
I say a BOOM chicka boom
I say a Boom chicka rocka chicka rocka chicka boom
Oh yeah...
Uh huh...
All right.

Then you repeat several times, each time with a different twist on it which the leader calls out before beginning--faster, slower, higher, lower, happier, sadder, etc. On "sadder" the last three lines are: "Oh no, unh uhh, all wrong."

06 Sep 97 - 12:29 PM (#11903)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Susan of California

One of my favorites is a Tom Chapin song called (I think) "Flowers are Red" It's about a kid who sees the world in all it's colors who has a stupid teacher who makes him/her paint flowers red, w/green leaves. Makes me cry, and it has started conversations with the kids about questioning "authority". Another song I love is by John McCuthceon (sp?) I think called "Someon's Knockin' at My Door". Does anybody know if it's available on any of his cd's? I've been looking on and off for about the past 10 years.

06 Sep 97 - 11:32 PM (#11916)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: rechal

Susan: "Flowers are red" is by Harry Chapin. It's a great song.

09 Sep 97 - 03:47 PM (#12050)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Jack

I always liked progressive call and response songs we sang as kids.

The one we did all the time on on the bus during field trips was called Flea (sic)

Responses mirror the calls exactly

1. Flea

2. Flea Fly

3. Flea fly flo-oh

4. Feasta

5. Kumala-Kumala-Kumala-Feasta

6. No-No-Nona-Taveesta

7. Eenee-meenee-desameenee-oowah-shawanameenee-Eenee-meenee-desameenee-oowah-shoowah..

I think there are other calls that get more complicated, anyone know any?


09 Sep 97 - 05:38 PM (#12061)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Joe Offer

Are you sure you have the spelling right on that one, Jack? [grin]

Actually, I think it's exactly the way I've seen it printed before. Good job!
-Joe Offer-

Susan of California, John McCutcheon's URL is (gee, wouldn't that be a good URL for Digital Tradition?) Check there to find out about your song - although I don't recall it being on any of the McCutcheon albums I have.

11 Sep 97 - 02:27 PM (#12140)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: rechal

The version I learned of that call/response song when I was a kid went:


Vee vye.

Vee vye voh.


Oh, no no, no not da vista.

Essa-meeny salla-meeny ooh walla-walla-meeny.
Essa-meeny salla-meeny ooh walla-wah.

EEESH-biddley otten-dotten bo-bo be-deeten-dotten.
EEESH-biddley otten-dotten wah-dotten-CHEW.

Then I heard this version of it on the 2nd Sharon, Lois and Bram record:


Flea fly.

Flea fly mosquito.

Oh, no no, no more mosquito.

Itchy, itchy, scratchy, scratchy, ooh I got one down my backy.

Beat that big bad bug with the bug spray.

11 Sep 97 - 02:34 PM (#12141)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: rechal

Does anybody else remember a song/game/tongue twister called Piccolomini?

It involved singing the word Piccolomini over and over again, faster and faster until you were "out" because you stumbled over Piccolomini. The tune seems like it should be familiar, but I can't think of what it might be.

Anyway, it's much more difficult than it sounds, because the lyric structure, even though it's just one word, is complex. i.e. the musical phrases are of varying lengths. So the "verses" look like this:

Piccolomini, piccolomini

Piccolomini, piccole!

Lomini piccolo

Mini piccolomini piccolomini pi!

Colomini piccolomini piccolo

Mini piccolomini.

Now that I have matured in years, I see what a lovely drinking song this would make.

11 Sep 97 - 03:11 PM (#12145)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Bill D

there is a family of 5,(3 kids), calling themselves "The Tune Mammals" who have made a couple of tapes with a LOT of neat songs (mostly written by themselves, I think). One is called 'too cute to spank'...I know someone who has them...I'll try to get an address, etc..

11 Sep 97 - 03:27 PM (#12146)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Joe Offer

Hmmmm. One might wonder whether Rechal spent her entire childhood at camp......

12 Sep 97 - 03:38 AM (#12178)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: lli

I'm looking for a children's song collection I had as a wee tot in 1969 or 70.Don't remember the album title but remember it included "Fish of the Sea (Song of the fishes)","Shule Aroon", "Pretty Little Reckless Boy"and some scary song where the female singer shrieked at the end.I think it was part of a series for different ages of children.Sound familiar?

12 Sep 97 - 04:51 AM (#12185)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Susan L.

One of my favorite songs as a kid was "The Cat Came Back".Tried it on both my kids - they couldn't have been more indifferent. However, The Fox Went Out On A Chilly Night was a hit with both.

Susan L.

13 Sep 97 - 10:05 AM (#12256)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: rich r

This thread is rapidly approaching the point where the kids will be in college before you get to the bottom of the thread. Regardless I will re-cite a couple references that have popped up before, but nopt here.

1. Ruth Crawford Seeger's "American Folk Songs For Children" It's a great book that's been reprinted in paperback over the years, or check the children's section of your library. Some years ago Mike & Peggy Seeger recorded most of the song from the book on a 3 record vinyl set (Rounder Records). I think it has been reissued on CD but may be hard to find. Seeger's Animal Songs book was noted above.

2. Marcia & Jon Pankake's infamous "Joe's Got A Head Like A Ping Pong Ball" (see "naughty" thread) When I used to sing for Cub Scout meetings, I got lots of good stuff out of there (one of my kid's is in college now, I told you so).

3. Bill Staines "The Happy Wanderer" (cassette or CD) a relatively recent album for young & old kids.

re: Winken Blynken & Nod - It was once recorded on an album by the Simon Sisters. One member of the duo, Carly Simon, did go on to have a career of sorts.

rich r

14 Sep 97 - 02:31 AM (#12273)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Akiba

This seems as likely a spot as any to offer a "homegrown" kids song. I believe we've made use of this song, with occasional modifications, at one time or another in the childhoods of several of our combined seven, (who now range in age from 36 to 16). We ressurected it recently for Speed-1's 9 and 7 year-olds, whom we borrowed as an excuse to revisit the zoo:

(Sung to the tune of " I Don't Want To Grow Up; I'm A Toys-R-Us Kid"):

I don't want to throw up, I just feel like I do;
I ate so much terrific stuff, today at the zoo.

I don't want to throw up, but my tum's kinda sick,
From carmel corn and peanut chews, and corn-dogs on a stick,...

And ice cream, soda, and chocolate bars,
And cotton candy, pink and blue;

I don't want to throw up, 'cause, "golly", if I do,
We won't be goin' back to the zoo!

Oh, drat! Oh! ... SPLAT! ... Oh, phoo!
I guess I over-ate at the zoo.


14 Sep 97 - 06:37 AM (#12278)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Frank in the swamps

This thread has grown so long that I finally had to check it out. Last time I saw a thread grow like this was "Fantasy song circle", I went up to the mountains for a month, and by the time I came back Max had so transfigured the Mudcat I could barely recognize it. Could it be all us ol' folk junkies got hooked when we were children?

Peter T. I designate myself as Frank "in the swamps" because I currently live in Florida, and most of my QUALITY TIME is spent prowling the wetlands ( what's left). So you ain't like to find me sticking up for Rat World & Co. very often, but I do love their version of The Jungle Book. It bothers the hell out of me if I compare it to the real Jungle Book, because that has always been one of my favourite tales. I still read myself a bedtime story from it now and then, no kidding! But if you just let it stand alone.... Who can argue with Ballou groovin' with the "King of the swingers?" But the songs are a real hit with the kids, my Lady Fair and I were playing a gig one time, and a little toddler came up to us, so Jenny sez' "How about Bippety Boppety Boo?" Kid went X-ta-C on us, and my niece always wants us to play "Cruella DeVille."

rechal, I wanna know the tune to piccolomini, it looks like great fun.

My first recollection of folksong takes place in primary school, some guy with a guitar played for us, and I was outraged at the ships' captain in "The Lowlands Low" for his shabby treatment of the cabin boy, then I was all taken up with the "Henry Martin". Maybe if we all jump on the psychoanalyists couch together we'll find we ain't crazy, just "touched" as children by one of these takenforgrantedcuztheyaintno'count old songs.


14 Sep 97 - 08:03 AM (#12281)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Shula

Dear Frank I.T.S.;

Your last response struck several chords. My husband, a retired civil engineer with a rare concern for the environment has often found himself a lonely voice in the ongoing struggle to preserve wetlands, though time continues to bring belated awareness to the powers that be.

As for Disney, though I confess to liking some of the songs from the older films, I cannot bear the recent butchering of so many classics. Peter T. has put my feelings on the matter emphatically into words. Childhood memories of The Jungle Books (and, though not a Disney casualty, The Just-So Stories), have left me unable to view Uncle Walt's version with anything approaching equanimity; do have some positive things to say about the non-cartoon movie versions, however, -- with reservation.

First memories of folk-songs: grandfathers, one, a homesick Scots/ English pianist, who shared his love of Bobby Burns and trad. folk songs with "th' wee bairns," and the other a French Huguenot descendant whose family settled the VA Blue Ridge long ago, who sang us the songs of the VA hill folk (lustily a cappella), and told us stories like "The Great Bear and The Hunter" (about the constellations), and "B'rer Rabbit and De Tar Baby," evenings after dinner, sitting on the long front porch of the house he built himself, keeping time with his rocking chair.

Will happily admit that The Mudcat has done more to put me in mind of the almost forgotten joys of childhood than any psychoanalytical wallowing could ever hope to do. Recall that the first song I tried to sing was about "Poor Robin," who would "nest in the barn, to keep himself warm, and hide his head under his wing, poor thing!" (Wish I remembered more, think I'll go rummage around in the DT.)

Mention of "Bibbiddy-bobbidy-boo" has reminded me of a little humourous essay I once wrote about a stubborn childhood determination to become a fairy godmother when I grew up. ( Yup, all in all, guess I should be a-tellin' ya to send me a bill long about now, 'ceptin I ain't got no green.) Thanks for the pleasant recollections, anyway.

Guess I've rambled quite enough, sorry.


14 Sep 97 - 04:00 PM (#12287)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Barry

A few my kids always liked; The Carnivous Chivalrous Shark (in the DT), The Good Old Brig, I Once Was A Cook On A Bark, Erie Canal, Hell'va Wedding on the Congo River (Monkey's Wedding) also in the DT. The longest version I could come up with to Sam Bass for my son. Barry

16 Sep 97 - 06:55 PM (#12378)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Squid


The lyrics you quoted are a Mother Goose rhyme that go like this:

The north wind doth blow, And we shall have snow, And what will the robin do then? Poor thing!

He'll sit in the barn And keep himself warm, And hide his head under his wing. Poor thing!

I never knew the melody that goes with it, but I always enjoyed reading it to my children. I always read it with a British accent, kind of like an Allistair Cooke voice.

22 Sep 97 - 09:46 PM (#12908)
Subject: Lyr Add: PICCOLOMINI
From: rechal

And just what is wrong with spending one's entire childhood at camp? It beats reform school, or at least the one which Joe Offer attended, and it provides one with a marvelous background in singing songs of which most people have never heard. (This deficiency doesn't seem to bother most of the poor folks who are thus afflicted, but my generous heart aches for them nonetheless.)


This HTMLedversion of Piccolomini might give you a better sense of its lyrical structure, although, alas, not its tune. Do I have to have a keyboard or something to make MIDI files? I'd gladly teach it to you if you were here -- we'd Piccolomini 'til the sun came up.


Piccolomini, piccolomini
Piccolomini, piccole!
Lomini piccolo
Mini piccolomini piccolomini pi!
Colomini piccolomini piccolo
Mini piccolomini.

22 Sep 97 - 10:49 PM (#12912)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: GaryD

Actually, in my family, any song is fair game..I am always amused that while most kids in my son's Kindergarten class were singing Old McDonald's Farm, mine was singing "What Shall we do with a Drunken Sailor!"..Actual verses like "shave his belly with a rusty razor, or homemade verses we made up like "Throw him to the sharks, and he'll walk on water!" make singing with your kids even better! Now that they are young adults, I see them singing to other kids the same way and they've told me that our times together were some of their fondest memories.

23 Sep 97 - 04:57 AM (#12939)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Joe Offer

Now, Rechal, I did NOT spend my youth in a reform school - it was a seminary. Had a darn good time there, too, and I spent summers working at a camp. We sang constantly in both places.
Here's the URL for Noteworthy. You can download the Noteworthy Composer there and compose MIDIs at your computer keyboard.
It's an excellent program. It's just a little clumsy to convert to a MIDI file since they want you to save in their own format, but it ain't hard. Take a look.
-Joe Offer-

23 Sep 97 - 06:47 AM (#12945)
Subject: Lyr Add: THE THINNEST MAN^^
From: maureen

Hi. I am having a great time getting acquainted with all of you through your postings.

I wonder if anyone has heard of "The Thinnest Man"? When I was a child my father always made a ritual of singing a certain few songs on New Year's Eve with us, and this one I have never heard anywhere else. Here are the lyrics:

chorus: Oh me, oh my, he was the thinnest man.
He fell through a hole in the seat of his pants
And choked himself to death.

He was sitting in the boarding house,
the light was burning dimly.
A mosquito grabbed him by the neck,
and jerked him up the chimney.


They put him in the city jail,
for stealing auto cars.
They couldn't keep him in the jail,
cause he walked out through the bars.

Of course, this is not what is conventionally known as children's music, although I recall that we loved it and sang it with glee while my mother scowled disapprovingly. I am very curious, though, to know if other people have heard of it.

23 Sep 97 - 09:54 PM (#13000)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Ron K

I just wanted to add my favorites for singing with my kids. There was a song recorded by Raffi called MY WAY HOME written by either Ken or Keith Whitely. A very simple lyric and melody. Another one (by Woody Guthrie) is JIG ALONG HOME. My seven year old always corrects me on the verse of WALTZING WITH BEARS. I still don't know if its

...raggy bears, shaggy bears, baggy bears


...Shaggy bears, baggy bears, or whatever.

24 Sep 97 - 10:00 PM (#13099)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: BK

Every time I sing waltzing with bears I can't predict in what order the shaggy, baggy and raggy will come out but I still think it's great anyway! I always add the extra last verse I got from Priscilla Herdman's CD of songs to sing with your kids. I forget who wrote it, but it's super;

"last night when the moon rose we crept down the stairs an he took me to dance where the bears have their lairs we danced in a bear hug with nary a care... 'an there is no denyin' it all feels like flyin' but now my pajamas are covered with hair!"

cheers, BK

27 Sep 97 - 10:11 PM (#13360)
Subject: ADD: Stormy Weather (Children's Version) ^^
From: Tim Jaques

My niece has an amusing print of a Victorian painting called The Bear Dance, and I always think of this song when I see it. Some bears are dancing what appears to be some elaborate folk dance, some playing instruments, others drinking, others fighting.

Here's a traditional song suitable for kids. I suspect that it has more verses -- like an introductory verse, at least -- but this is how I know it.


Up jumps the eel with his slippery tail
Climbs up aloft and reefs the topsail
Up jumps the shark with his nine rows of teeth
Saying "You eat the dough, boys, and I'll eat the beef.


And it's windy weather boys, stormy weather boys,
When the wind blows we're all together boys
Blow your winds westerly, blow your winds blow
Jolly sou'wester boys, steady she goes.

Up jumps the mackerel with his striped back
Saying "Watch your eyes captain, its time for to tack
Up jumps the lobster with his heavy claw
Bites the main boom right off by the jaws.

Chorus again.

Up jumps the halibut, lies flat on the deck
He says "Mr. Captain, don't walk on my neck
Up jumps the herring, the king of the sea
Saying "all other fishes now you follow me.

(Chorus again)

Up jumps the codfish with his chuckle head
He runs out to forward and throws out the lead
Up jumps the whale, the largest of all
He heaves on the windlass pawl after pawl.

(Chorus again)^^

22 Jan 00 - 08:00 PM (#166935)
Subject: Lyr Add: THE THINNEST MAN^^
From: Joe Offer

Rick Fielding mentioned this song in Sandy Paton's birthday thread. I wondered what in the world a song like that would have to do with Sandy Paton, but maybe it would be impertinent to ask a question like that (grin). I did a search and found most of the words in a message above, but I've added verses that I found in the terrific Anne Hills/Cindy Mangsen album called Never Grow Up, which is something I never intend to do.
So, Rick, what is the connection between this song and Sandy Paton? No, Sandy is not particularly portly...
-Joe Offer-

(earliest known printed version, dated 1881, credited to Frank Dumont - found by Joe Hickerson)

Oh, the thinnest man I ever saw lived over in Hoboken
If I ever told you how thin he was you'd say that I was jokin'
He was as thin as a postage stamp or the skin of a new potater
For exercise, he'd take a ride through the holes of a nutmeg grater
Oh me, oh my, he was the thinnest man.
Thin as soup in a boarding house, or the skin of a soft-shelled clam.

Through a keyhole he'd go slipping, through a mousehole he'd go sliding
And when the landlord came for rent, in the gas pipe he'd be hiding
He was as thin, as thin as grass, as thin as porous plaster
He was as thin as thin can be, he couldn't grow thin any faster
Oh me, oh my, he was the thinnest man.
Thin as soup in a boarding house, or the skin of a soft-shelled clam.

He'd never go out on a stormy night, he'd never go out alone
For fear that some poor hungry dog would take him for a bone.
While sitting by the fire one night, the lamp was burning dimly
A bedbug grabbed him by the hair and yanked him up the chimney
Oh me, oh my, he almost lost his breath
Fell through a hole in the seat of his pants, and choked himself to death.

^^ Transcribed in honor of the birthday of Sandy Paton there such a thing as a soft-shelled clam?????

23 Jan 00 - 01:20 PM (#167145)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Pixie

Hey! Check out Raffi, another great Canadian entertainer for children.....great tunes that don't suffer from over-production, are fun and can have a "message"....he has lots of recordings....

Also "Stewball","Puff the Magic Dragon"? I work with children and to be honest, if they like music, they like to listen to a wide variety....we have Michael Martin Murphy tapes at work that get played frequently (cowboy songs)and the kids love it!

23 Jan 00 - 05:26 PM (#167237)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children

I'm planning to do selected verses from "Come and Listen to my Song" and "Down in the Arkansas" for upper elementary. Just the right level of participation and whimsy.

23 Jan 00 - 07:39 PM (#167302)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: GUEST,Victoria

In my classroom,all of John McCutcheon's kid's albums/songs are favorites - Especially "The Watermelon Song", "Kindergarten Wall" and "Rubber Blubber Whale". If you ever get a chance to catch one of his family shows with your kids, they are excellent! I have no children of my own, but I never never miss a kid's show of his, they are TOO much fun! :-)

24 Jan 00 - 08:58 AM (#167495)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: GeorgeH

The best album of kid's songs is Roy Bailey's "Why does it have to be me".

They're so good he even insists on his adult folk club audiences singing them.


25 Jan 00 - 12:47 AM (#167927)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Pelrad

I hear Hal Palmer does good kids' songs (Can Cockatoos Count By Twos? etc); I have not actually heard any of his stuff, but I think the song titles are interesting... Personally, I cannot stand Raffi; to me he does to folk music what Disney does to good stories. Bleah.

David Jones has a cassette out which has plenty of fun songs; unfortunately I don't think the tape is widely distributed. It includes When Father Papered the Parlor, Henry the Eighth, The Body In The Bag, Logdrivers' Waltz, All Right Said Fred, and other music-hall style songs. The chorus to When Father Papered the Parlor (just to give you an idea) goes:
When father papered the parlor you couldn't see Pa for paste
Dabbing it here, dabbing it there, paste and paper everywhere
Mother was stuck to the ceiling, the children were stuck to the floor
I never knew a bloomin' family so stuck up before!

Bill Harley has some real gems on his albums, and he seems to specialize in the 7-10 age group. You're In Trouble, Monsters In The Closet, There's a Pea On My Plate and dozens of other songs all from the kid's perspective and not the least condescending.

My brothers and I delighted in the song Our House around that age. I don't remember who wrote or recorded it; we learned it at a live performance from Bill Staines. It's the one where various people come to the house and the family disposes of them in creative ways. I think it's in the database here at Mudcat.

Malcolm Dalglish has some interesting stuff. His newer work is not really sing-along material, but some of his earlier pieces are fun to sing. Little Potato is really cool.

Woody Guthrie is a big hit around our house. My toddler has a vocabulary of 5 words, three of which are "hey pretty baby," thanks to that catchy Guthrie song (Hey hey pretty baby, who's gonna be my pretty little baby?)

Some of their material is very dated, but RosenShontz is also a great source of songs. My son loves the "Life is over and under and up and down" song...Sorry, it's very late at night and this is probably not coherent. If anyone wants particulars, let me know.

29 Mar 08 - 10:46 AM (#2300345)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: GUEST,Polly

Kids songs from school yards,

CHORUS. eary in the moning etc;



06 Jan 09 - 10:18 AM (#2532849)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)

Refresh, in the spirit of research!

06 Jan 09 - 10:53 AM (#2532879)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Mark Ross

The pre-school kids I play for(with) like;

and of course they like to get a chnace to try out my instruments(with me helping them and holding the axes).

Mark Ross

06 Jan 09 - 11:23 AM (#2532916)
Subject: RE: Songs to sing with Children
From: Uncle_DaveO

I've scanned through this thread rapidly, and I don't see (hope I haven't missed) these songs referred to:

There's a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea
The Green Grass Grew All Around

These are definitely, IMO, for singing WITH kids. There's not much point in them without the kids' participation, methinks.

Kids really love Froggie Went A-Courtin', too, coming in on the Uh-HUHs. That song doesn't absolutely require the audience participation, but it does better with it.

Dave Oesterreich