Before flashy video games, hand-held computer toys and mesmerizing animated movies, there were songs. While the high-tech diversions have their place, songs offer a wholesome alternative for kids. As a bonus, children’s songs with movement stimulate development and imagination and provide entertaining exercise. “You don’t have to have a good voice to sing with your children; kids just love to hear their parents’ voices,” says Karen Buriss, a Chicago-based Kindermusik teacher and children’s performer. Check out these ideas—specific and general, some familiar and maybe some new ones—for children’s songs with movement.
“Head and Shoulders”
This classic song gets kids up and moving with a bonus because they learn their body parts: head, shoulders, knees and toes; eyes and ears and mouth and nose. For an added component, do the song very fast and very slow, or say the body parts in Spanish or another language.
From musician Jim Gill and on his CD “Jim Gill Sings the Sneezing Song and Other Contagious Tunes,” this goofy song gives children a chance to just wiggle everything like a noodle. You can start wiggling individual body parts and then the whole body.
“Shake Your Sillies Out”
Sing this Raffi song with its written lyrics—which also include “jump your jiggles out,” “clap your crazies out” and “yawn your sleepies out”—and add your own movements too. Buriss suggests, “Run in a curvy line, gallop, hop. Of course, parents have to do it with them.” So you get some exercise too. Not a bad thing.
“When You’re Happy and You Know it”
Clap your hands! Yes, this is an easy one and easy to use whatever movement you want to encourage. “You can go way beyond the regular,” says Buriss who likes to add a “tickle somebody” line in her version. “It’s a good giggle fest.”
“Grand Old Duke of York”
This old-time song has children stretching up and touching their toes and squatting half-way down. Adapt the song to older or younger kids. With babies, you can lift them up and down or lift objects up and down. Older kids can jump up and down. Any way you do it, there’s plenty of opportunity for movement.
“Row Your Boat”
Yes, children will move their arms and row, but they can also “kick your boat,” “blow your boat,” “rock your boat” or anything else you can think of. “Take standard songs and throw your own stuff in there,” Buriss says.
Songs With Props
Use props to enhance the movement of almost any song, especially with younger kids. For example, throw scarves up in the air, wave them around or pretend they are capes and “fly.” Make your own ribbon wands with straws and streamers, then wave them up and down and in a circle over your heads.