Kid's Activity: Action Songs

by Melissa Jaramillo and Julie Snyder

Music has long been touted as a method of education from the time the child is nestled in the womb. Music can be used to both soothe and to energize! The use of action songs introduces children to simple rhythmic patterns as well as increases their gross motor skills. Plus, let's admit it -- it is just plain fun!

Below you will find a few suggestions for easy action songs to enjoy with your child. If you are unfamiliar with the tunes you can generally do a search online for an audio version. Go ahead! Get silly! You and your child will find yourself collapsing breathless with giggles!

Do your Ears Hang Low?

Do your ears hang low?
  (Place hands by ears with fingers pointing down)
Do they wobble to and fro?
  (With hands still in position, wiggle fingers)
Can you tie them in a knot?
  (Pretend to tie a knot in the air)
Can you tie them in a bow?
  (Pretend to tie a bow - girls in their hair/boys at their necks)
Can you throw them o'er your shoulder
  (Clasp hands together and "throw" over left shoulder.)
Like a Continental Soldier?
  (Give a salute)
Do your ears hang low?
  (Return to original position)

Repeat -- first super slow, and then fast, faster, until you run out of breath!

Grand old Duke of York

The Grand old Duke of York
  
  (Stand at attention)
He had ten thousand men.
  
  ("Look" around at all the men)
He marched them up to the top of the hill
  (March in place as if climbing)
And he marched them down again.
  (March in place going low)

When they were up, they were up!
  (Stand straight up!)
And when they were down, they were down!
  (Sit down!)
And when they were only half way up
  (get halfway up)
They were neither up nor down!
  (Pop up then sit down quickly)

Repeat getting faster each time! See how many rounds you can make it!

Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes

Actions for this song are simple -- touch appropriate body part as mentioned. For a fun variation, repeat the verse again and again, each time leaving off another word but still do the action until you are doing only the actions, singing none of the words!

Head, shoulders, knees, and toes.
Knees and toes.
Head, shoulders, knees, and toes.
Knee and toes.
Eyes and ears and mouth and nose.
Head, shoulders, knees, and toes.

Hokey Pokey

For this song, just follow the actions described! For extra fun, create your own verses!

You put your right hand in.
You put your right hand out.
You put your right hand in,
And you shake it all about.
You do the hokey pokey and turn yourself about.
That's what it's all about! (Clap once)

You put your left hand in.
You put your left hand out.
You put your left hand in,
And you shake it all about.
You do the hokey pokey and turn yourself about.
That's what it's all about! (Clap)

Repeat verses using right leg, left leg, front side, back side, and finish with whole self (jump in and back!)

I'm a Little Teapot

I'm a little teapot
Short and stout!
  (Standing straight bend knees slightly then stand up straight again)
Here is my handle
  (place on hand on hip)
Here is my spout
  (hold other arm out with hand pointing down)
When I get all steamed up, hear me shout!
  (Cup hands around mouth for "megaphone")
Tip me over, and pour me out!
  ("Tip" sideways on the side with the "spout")

If You're Happy and You Know It

If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands!
  (Clap twice.)
If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands!
  (Clap twice.)
If you're happy and you know it then your face should surely show it!
If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands!
  (Clap twice.)

If you're happy and you know it, stomp your feet!
  (Stomp twice!)
If you're happy and you know it, stomp your feet!
  (Stomp twice!)
If you're happy and you know it then your face should surely show it!
If you're happy and you know it, stomp your feet!
  (Stomp twice!) If you're happy and you know it, shout Hooray!
  (Hooray!!)
If you're happy and you know it, shout Hooray!
  (Hooray!!)
If you're happy and you know it then your face should surely show it!
If you're happy and you know it, shout Hooray!
   (Hooray!!)

If you're happy and you know it, do all three!
  (Clap, clap, stomp, stomp, Hooray!!)
If you're happy and you know it, do all three!
  (Clap, clap, stomp, stomp, Hooray!!)
If you're happy and you know it then your face should surely show it!
If you're happy and you know it, do all three!
  (Clap, clap, stomp, stomp, Hooray!!)

Itsy, Bitsy, Spider

The itsy, bitsy, spider
  (Put fingers from one hand touching the other.)
Crawled up the water spout.
  ("Crawl" fingers upwards as if climbing)
Down came the rain
  (Holding hands up in the air and lower, wriggle fingers as if raining)
And washed the spider out!
  (Throw hands to one side)
Out came the sun
  (Make huge circle high above head with arms)
And dried up all the rain.
  (Begin with fingers wriggling low and wiggle going up
  -- opposite movement for when rain came down)
Then the itsy, bitsy, spider
  (repeat beginning motions of spider crawling up!)
Went up the spout again!!

Where is Thumbkin?

Where is thumbkin?
  (Keep hands behind back)
Where is thumbkin?
Here I am.
  (Bring right hand forward, thumb up.)
Here I am!
  (Bring left hand forward, thumb up.)
How are you today sir?
  (Wiggle one thumb as if talking to the other.)
Very well, I thank you!
  (Wiggle other thumb as if responding to the other.)
Run away.
  (Take one hand back behind you.)
Run away.
  (Move other hand back behind you.)

Where is pointer?
  (Keep hands behind back)
Where is pointer?
Here I am.
  (Bring right hand forward, index finger pointing up.)
Here I am!
  (Bring right hand forward, index finger pointing up.)
How are you today sir?
  (Wiggle one index finger as if talking to the other.)
Very well, I thank you!
  (Wiggle other index finger as if responding to the other.)
Run away.
  (Take one hand back behind you.)
Run away.
  (Move other hand back behind you.)

Repeat song using "tall man" for middle finger, "ring man", and then "pinkie" End with "where is the family" bringing all fingers out!

Have fun!

Julie Snyder is a mom of six, interested in kids, pregnancy, birth, people and lives in the outlying Seattle area. Melissa Jaramillo is mom to many. She's passionate about building, encouraging, and strengthening families on this adventure known as parenthood!

Copyright © Melissa Jaramillo and Julie Snyder. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.