August 23, 2012

How to Start a Toddler Music Group: Part 2

This is the part where you suddenly think this was a very bad idea. Especially if, like me, your musical talents are abysmal to say the least.

Oh well, onward! This is why you're doing it with toddlers - most of THEM can't carry a tune or even sing an entire song themselves.

My plan is to have it all take place in my living room, with a blanket spread out in the middle for everyone to sit on/around. So set-up? Easy.

We'll jump right in to the songs. The previous group did the exact same song line-up every time, which Ella loved but seemed to not thrill some of the older children who got a little restless after a couple of weeks.

In our group, we'll do about 80% of the same songs each week, with a new 20% of songs in the middle each time. Sometimes they'll be holiday-themed or songs around a theme like "jungle animals" or "counting songs", and sometimes I'll ask other moms to volunteer to prepare the new songs with any necessary props. Several moms responded to my email asking if they could help, so I think I shouldn't have too hard a time getting takers. We shall see.

Anyway, here are the 80% songs I'm doing (I'm figuring that 20 songs, plus transition time, will mean about 35 minutes or so of total time, with 5-10 minutes for the new songs in the middle each time):

  1. Hello Song - Everyone sits in a circle and you go around to each child one at at time, calling them by name and having them stand at the appropriate time (the song starts at about 0:26 on the link. We'll do it a capella).
  2. What I’m Wearing - Another a capella song where every child, in turn, points out one item they are wearing, "Ella is wearing a white shirt, white shirt, white shirt, Ella is wearing a white shirt all day long." I can't find a clip for this one. . .
  3. I Love Colors - I need to make some paint chip cards on a ring for this so each child can hold them as they march.
  4. If You’re Happy and You Know It - we may do this one with the music or we might do our own so we can vary the actions.
  5. Old McDonald Had a Farm - I'll let each child pick an animal and then put it back in the barn while we sing that verse.
  6. Slippery Fish - A great little action song, where you use your hands to make versions of every animal mentioned.
  7. Ring Around the Rosie - You all know this one, right?
  8. Ribbon Dancing - Just pick a two or three minutes wordless song and let it play while the kids dance around with ribbons.
  9. The Alphabet Song - I'll set up our alphabet cards and let the kids who are old enough point to them as we sing. I might give the younger ones a card to hold and march with.
  10. I’m a Little Teapot - A classic. Nice easy actions and no props.
  11. The Wheels on the Bus - All the kids sit in the middle of the blanket (or a parachute if you have one, which we do not) and then the parents each hold a part of the edge and walk in a circle so the kids turn around. You can make the blanket jostle (the people on the bus go up and down) or go back and forth (like windshield wipers) or bring the sides up and down (like the doors) as appropriate to the lyrics.
  12. Willoughby-Wallaby-Woo - Each child has a chance to do two or three lines putting a stuffed animal on the appropriate person or object. I do this one without the music so we can put in our own names.
  13. The Itsy-Bitsy Spider - You know this one too, right? A quick little action song.
  14. The Noble Duke of York - Every mom holds their babies on their knees and lifts them up and down and side to side as the lyrics suggest.
  15. Where is Thumbkin? - A fun classic fingerplay song.
  16. Head Shoulders Knees and Toes - Do this 3-4 times, getting progressively speedier.
  17. Shake Your Sillies Out  - One last wiggly, jumping, energetic song. 
  18. Row-Row-Row Your Boat - Older kids can walk around rowing their own boats, while younger kids can "sit in the boat" on their parent's lap. Active but a little quiet.
  19. Open Shut Them - A sitting song, with some actions to start winding down.
  20. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star - A quiet ending where everyone lies down with closed eyes.

I own CDs with pretty much every song on this list, so my plan is to make a play list with them in order so I can just move quickly from one to the next on my computer. The former group leader had all her songs on her laptop and did the same thing.

She also had a chalkboard with a list of all the songs so the parents knew what song was coming next. I'm planning to make a posterboard with all the songs on it. Not in my own horrible handwriting, I can assure you of THAT.

Any other questions or suggestions?


  1. Cute ideas and I like the list! We did Kindermusik with Jack and he liked it a lot. Instruments were fun to use in that as well as songs, if you are so inclined.

  2. You are amazing, this looks so fun!

  3. This looks like so much fun! I'd never organize it, but I sure would attend. Our library does Open Shut Them before story time every week.

  4. You're a rockstar. Here's a list I've compiled. When “ “Gets Up In The Morning

    Here We Are Together

    If You’re Happy & You Know It

    Where Oh Where Oh Where is ?

    Clap Your Hands as slowly as you can

    Itsy Bitsy Spider

    Choo Choo The Big Train

    Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes

    Old Mac Donald

    Teasing Mr.Alligator

    In The Leafy Tree Tops

    Way Up In The Sky (the birdie song)

    One Elephant went out to play

    Parachute popcorn chant

    Come Under My Umbrella

    Open, Shut Them

    Apple Tree

    Giddy Up

    Ring Around the Rosie

    Teddy Bear

    Thank you for being our friend

    Rainbow song (with bells)

    Color, Color how you wander

    Baa Baa Black Sheep

    Twinkle, Twinkle little star

    Once there was a snowman

    If all of the raindrops (If all of the snowflakes)

    Hurry Hurry drive the fire truck (trash truck)

    Noble Duke of York

    Row your boat


    Peas Porridge Hot

    Grey Squirrel

    Hokey Pokey

    Beat the drum

    Hear the Beat (Brite music CD)

    See Me Run (Brite Music CD)

    Hickory Dickory Dock

    Fuzzy Wuzzy Caterpillar

    Pirate song

    There was an old woman who swallowed a fly

    Hello Mr. Turkey how are you

    Five Little Turkeys

    Fat Turkey Song

    Turkey Trouble

    I Love My Flag

    I’ve Got Two Eyes

    Three little Ghosties

    Stirring my Brew

    Ten little bubbles

    Where is thumpkin

    This is the way the ladies ride

    Bumble bee song

    Bumble Bee don’t sting me

    Bumble Bee landed on my nose

    Wheels on the bus

    You are my sunshine

    Peanut butter & Jelly

    I’m a little teapot


    3 little ducks went out to play

    Ants go marching

    1, 2 buckle my shoe

    Monkeys jumping on the bed

    Roll over

    1, 2 I stretch up tall

    Throw the bean bag (Hap Palmer CD)

    Lady Bug (Frank Lito Time for Music CD)

    Hands inside the circle (Hap Palmer) title “the count of five)

    Sally The Swinging Snake (Hap Palmer CD)

    Happy Face what do you see

    I’m Stretching very tall

    Here we go luby loo

    5 little monkeys jumping opn the bed

    In the Leafy Treetops

    Little Seeds

    Singing a songs fun to do

    Sweetly sings the donkey

    If you chance to meet a frown

    When we're helping were happy

    There are seven days of the week

    Days of the week

    Over in the Meadow

  5. Thanks for sharing, it sounds like it will be great!

  6. You're a trend setter! I told my little sister about your idea, and she's going to (try) and start a group down in Houston! I'll have to direct her here for ideas. :)

  7. Sounds like it should be fun! Thinking once my little one arrives in December I am going to have to get a group going at my church.

  8. Jenae and I just went to a free preview session of a music class. Seeing as how it was free, there were too many people there and it was crazy to say the least! There were older children running laps around the instructor (and nobody trying to stop them, wonderful) and all sorts of chaos. Ah, but we still had fun. Even with a smaller group I don't think I would want to pay the $150 for 10 weeks fee. Jenae is thinking of setting one up herself.

  9. You are spectacular. Any suggestions for good music CDs to start our collection?

  10. A group of women at church lead a music group that we participate in. Every month they have a theme (beach, patriotic, fathers, mothers, whatever) and then pick out about 5-6 songs pertaining to that theme. The opening and closing songs are always the same. And one of the songs is just to play music to and another of the songs is just to dance/move to. So in actuality, you are only learning 2-3 new songs a month. I have enjoyed to format. However, if I were to actual run it, I might think differently. ;)

  11. We do the same opening songs each week (starting with that Hello song, actually) and then have "singing time" in another room with different songs each month. Lots of props with those songs. (Also, they hand out lyric sheets.) And they close with a goodbye version of the hello song. As many times as I've been I still don't know everyone's names.


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