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Learn German With Traditional Songs for Children

Updated on October 6, 2016

Alle meine Entchen

Which traditional songs you need to know

Do you want to get to know the German culture, the country, the people and what moves and influences them? Then you have to know their traditional songs too.

Are you looking for an easy way to remember German phrases? Learning lyrics is a popular way of remembering vocabulary of a foreign language. It is best to start with children's songs, because they have beginner friendly topics normally, about every day life. So, if you want to learn the essentials of the German language you should start with traditional German children's songs. You could learn the lyrics of a modern German song for kids too, but the advantage of traditional songs is, that you learn about the culture at the same time.

As in every culture there are lullaby songs, kindergarden songs, children's songs for Christmas and so on. Obviously you don't need to know all of them, but there are a few everyone who is interested in the German culture should know. Maybe you will find parallels to your own culture and this will help you to relate to the German people. For everyone who wants to work as an au-pair or in a kindergarden in Germany, for example, this hub will be helpful, too.

This is the first song I ever learnt as a toddler. Beneath the German lyrics you will find some kind of translation, which is not a translation word by word though, just because to keep it somehow nice.

Alle meine Entchen schwimmen auf dem See,
schwimmen auf dem See,
Köpfchen in das Wasser,
Schwänzchen in die Höh.

Alle meine Täubchen
Sitzen auf dem Dach,
Sitzen auf dem Dach;
Klipper, klapper, klapp, klapp,
Fliegen übers Dach.

All my ducklings are swimming on the lake,
Swimming on the lake,
Their little heads dip into the water,
Their little tails stick out.

All my little doves,
Settle on the roof,
Settle on the roof,
Clipper, clapper, clap, clap,
Fly over the roof.

Click onto the youtube video underneath to listen to the words.

Look at the youtube video underneath to listen to the "Hänschen Klein" song.

Hänschen Klein

Hänschen Klein - Lyrics

This is another "must". This song always made me sad because the little boy, named Hans, left his mother to go onto an adventure trip. Since the song is so old, there were no cell phones back then so that poor mum did not know where Hans was until he came back. In my song book there was a picture of the mother waving with a tissue and with tears in her eyes.

Hänschen klein
Ging allein
In die weite Welt hinein
Stock und Hut
Stehn ihm gut,
Ist gar wohlgemut.
Aber Mutter weinet sehr
Hat ja nun kein Hänschen mehr
Da besinnt sich das Kind,
Läuft nach Haus geschwind.
Liebe Mutter, ich bin da
Dein Hänschen tra la la
Bin bei dir,
Bleib' bei dir
Freue dich mit mir!

Little Hans
Went alone
Into the wide wide world,
A stick and hat
Suit him well,
He's quite cheerful!
But Mother cries a lot,
Now she has her little Hans no more,
So, the child thinks it over,
He goes quickly back home.
Dear Mother, I'm here,
Your Hans, tra la la,
I'm with you,
I'll stay with you,
Rejoice with me!

Backe Backe Kuchen

Click onto the youtube video above to listen to the melody.

Backe backe Kuchen

You can expect that absolutely every child in Germany who went to kindergarden knows this song. It even contains the first recipe for a simple cake the child will ever learn. It animates children between 3 and 6 years to get started with simple baking. Every child loves to touch and knead dough, mess about with flour and sticky butter. It is a very sensory experience.

Backe, backe Kuchen,
der Bäcker hat gerufen.

Wer will Kuchen backen,
der muss haben sieben Sachen:

Zucker und Salz,
Eier und Schmalz,
Milch und Mehl ,
und Safran macht den Kuchen gelb.

Bake, bake, bake a cake
The baker called out!

If you want to bake a cake
You need seven ingredients:

Sugar and salt
Eggs and lard
Milk and flour
and saffron makes the cake yellow.

Es tanzt ein Bi Ba Butzemann

Es tanzt ein Bi Ba Butzemann

This song is about a liitle man, who comes into the house at night, when everyone sleeps and who does all kind of nonsense, like dancing around, shaking his little sack (which he had for the same reason why we carry a rucksack for example I guess or maybe it is referring to the sandman). The song is said to be invented for children who wonder what noises are in the house when they lay in bed.

Songs about the German nature

The following songs are dedicated to all the beautiful nature, including the animals you can find in Germany.

Summ, Summ, Summ

Sum Sum Sum - Lyrics

Summ, summ, summ
Bienchen summ herum!
Ei, wir tun dir nichts zu leide
Flieg nur aus in Wald und Heide
Summ, summ, summ
Bienchen summ herum!

Buzz, buzz, buzz,
Bees buzz around!
Oh, we don't do you any harm
We just fly in forests and meadows.
Buzz, buzz, buzz,
Bees buzz around!

Kommt ein Vogel geflogen

Kommt ein Vogel geflogen

My sister used to sing this song to me when we were having a picknick in the summer. It was so sad because the bird is bringing a message in a letter who cannot be with the person. It originates from the time when loved ones were far away at war and sent letters home.

Der Kuckuck und der Esel

Der Kuckuck und der Esel

Der Kuckuck und der Esel

Die hatten einen Streit

Wer wohl am besten sänge

Wer wohl am besten sänge

Zur schönen Maienzeit

Zur schönen Maienzeit

My translation (even if it sounds a bit weird...)

The cuckoo and the donkey

they did have a fight

who would be the best singer

who would be the best singer

at beautiful May time

at beautiful May time

Die Vogelhochzeit

Die Vogelhochzeit

This song is not only challenging if you are not a good singer (that is why nobody ever wanted to sing it to me, but I love it anyway), it is also very educating regarding the different types of birds you can find in Germany.

Hopp, Hopp, Hopp, Pferdchen lauf Galopp

Auf einem Baum ein Kuckuck saß

Fuchs du hast die Gans gestohlen

Ein Männlein steht im Walde

Alle Vögel sind schon da

Ein Männlein steht im Walde

This song is actually about a spotted toadstool growing (in the song "standing") in the forest. In the imagination of children it is a little man who is wearing a red coat and who doesn't move.

Ein Männlein steht im Walde ganz still und stumm,
Es hat von lauter Purpur ein Mäntlein um.
Sagt, wer mag das Männlein sein,
Das da steht im Wald allein
Mit dem purpurroten Mäntelein.

Das Männlein steht im Walde auf einem Bein
Und hat auf seinem Haupte schwarz Käpplein klein,
Sagt, wer mag das Männlein sein,
Das da steht im Wald allein
Mit dem kleinen schwarzen Käppelein?

Laternenzeit - Walking with lanterns

When the days are getting shorter and shorter in fall, then it is time to go on a walk with a lantern with your children. Tiny children have beautiful lanterns, mostly self-made, with a little candle inside, or, if the hands are still a bit shaky, then you can buy an electrical lantern. This event is definitely tje biggest event between summer and Christmas. Children go in groups with their parents and the whole kindergarden, or they just go with a parent. These two songs are the ones I know. Nowadays there are many more of course, invented by kindergarden educators for example.

Laterne, Laterne, Sonne, Mond und Sterne

Ich geh mit meiner Laterne

Schneeflöckchen, Weißröckchen

Christmas songs for kids

The following songs are all time favourites for German children. Schneeflöckchen, Weißröckchen is about a little snowflake, snowing onto the window.

Lasst uns froh und munter sein


Last but not least, look at this old famous lullaby. In the youtube video underneath it is sung by a very famous actor.

La Le Lu

What is your favourite traditional German song?

See results


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