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Toddler Talk: Songs Kids Love

Being not much of a singer myself, singing to my little one when she was a newborn was reserved for trying to lull her to sleep. As she's gotten older and more verbal, she's become extremely interested in music and singing and dancing and responds to lyrics and tunes in ways she certainly hadn't before as a wee one.

In an effort to expand our repertoire --she insists on me singing her the ABCs at least three times before nap time now!—dI've compiled a list of 8 songs your child will love singing with you. Many of them have motions, which your child will soon learn to do if you teach them.

Ring Around the Rosy

Ramona's favorite! I taught her how to spin and twirl during the first half of the song and her Wednesday playmate has shown her the art of falling down. Sometimes they plop down on their bottom, other times they dive forward on their hands. Either way, it's a great song for kids as they get to move their whole body.

Row Row Row Your Boat

Another classic! We learned this one on the playground as I spun Ramona around on a fake pirate ship. She was happy to be made dizzy but when we went home and she was still asking for "Row Row" I came up with some motions. Try sitting your toddler on your lap and pretend to row a boat together. At "merrily" hug them tightly and twist and tickle!

Pat a Cake

A fun clapping song! Clap your hands for the first half of the song and they will be sure to follow suit. Then roll your hands around each other for "Roll it", pat your thighs for "pat it", and move your hands in and out from your body like you're holding a tray for "putting it in the oven."

Head, Shoulders Knees and Toes

Many toddlers are familiar with basic body parts, but it's a hoot watching Ramona figure out where her shoulders are. She gets it but can't always find them quickly. This song, which we always start out singing slowly, helps jog her memory. As your child gets the hang of where each body part is, start speeding it up a little bit more. For us, this song usually ends in giggles on the floor.

Wheels on the Bus

A great lap song! Place your child facing away from you on your lap. Bounce your knees up and down to simulate riding in the bus and move their arms for the motions. The bouncing and jiggling are a hoot.

Hokey Pokey

Another lap song AND body parts song. I do this with Ramona in the swimming pool but it can be as easily done with your toddler in your arms or standing facing each other if they're good at following cues. Move your appropriate limbs in and out and use it as a time to show them feet, hands, and turning in circles!


Not typically a song you think of with motions. But because of the simple, short tune and the easy-to-utter syllables, Ramona jumps in at certain spots surprising me with letters she remembers. This song can be sung while looking at an alphabet board and pointing the letters out as you go along, or perhaps you know sign language and can spell as you sing.

Make up your own song!

Ramona has a little dance she does whenever I start singing "peanut butter jelly dance." I also make up ditties, often nonsensical, and sing about whatever it is we're doing at the moment. This is helpful if she's watching me do household items like washing the dishes, cooking, or laundry. It buys me some time and she grows a little more interested in what's going on.

Have fun with these! Oh, and don't worry about your singing voice (certainly a concern of mine at first) —your child doesn't mind and will have fun no matter how on or off key you are.

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