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Writing a Kid Song
By Michelle Liew Tsui-Lin
If I were to ask anyone what they remember of their kindergarten years, one of the earliest memories they'd have is the times they spent in Music and Movement classes.
No one would argue that a good kid song is a vital part of childhood. It creates wonderful memories and makes the overwhelming event of school a little more bearable.
Writing one is easy enough for anyone to do, though it has a few key ingredients that must be remembered.
The Need for Kid Songs
Any preschool teacher will attest that the school experience is incomplete without a song. Less explained, perhaps, is why.
Children need good memories.
Children need positive experiences that allow them to shape an upbeat view of life. A kid song, sung together in a group, develops a positive experience for a child.
Kids are active.
A child's attention span is shorter and less fully developed than ours. They need room to move in the middle of a long school day.
Kid songs are vibrant and usually have attention grabbing verses that prompt a little movement and dancing.
They make room for children to interact.
Singing a kid song gives room for the child to interact with other children in a group and develop important social skills like turn taking and respect for others.
Kids songs allow children to learn.
Singing a good kid song allows a child to learn about the world around him. The song Wheels on the Bus teaches a child about transport. A perennial favorite, Old Macdonald had a Farm, teaches the names of animals.
They are fun.
A child learns in the midst of fun as he sings his favorite kid song. There isn't the pressure of having to read correctly or do math with accuracy.
They embrace concepts, unconsciously, while having a little fun.
They are easily remembered.
A kid song is easily remembered and tends to stick. Children leave school singing its verses for a long time.
They are positive.
These songs are upbeat and have a way of simply pushing you on in the middle of a tiring day.
You'll notice a smile on your 3 or 4 year old as he singing because they've raised his endorphin level.
How to write a kid song
A kid song should ..
- Be catchy
- Have repetitive yet engaging lyrics
- Have an upbeat melody that is easily sung
- Have an upbeat tempo
- Embrace simple concepts
- Be positive
What makes a good kid song?
For a kid song to make an imprint on a child's mind, the song writer has to note the elements that would give it impact.
It must be catchy.
The song should catch the attention of the child straight away. Long winded verses with lengthy words will certainly not help to make it more so.
The melody should be lively and engaging.
Unless it's supposed to function as a lullaby, a song for children to sing together should
not be draggy or morose, or it loses attention.
It should have an upbeat tempo.
Most children dislike moving to slow tunes. The ones they do like are usually energetic and elicit a little laugh after singing.
It should embrace simple concepts.
Lyrics that teach simple life skills or everyday concepts like transport, animals or even a trip to the supermarket make a useful and engaging kid song.
It must be positive.
The lyrics of a good kid song shouldn't have negative connotations, as these dampen the mood or even lead children to entertain negative ideas.
Kid Song Lyrics
Kid Song Lyrics
Here's a simple little ditty I wrote to teach 3 to 4 year olds about bath time.
We will hop right in,
and we will splish and splash,
splish and splash,
Splish and splash
We will hop right in
and we will splash and splash
All the time.
We will take the brush
And we wil scrub and scrub
Scrub and scrub
We will take the brush
And we will scrub and scrub
The dirt away.
We squeeze shampoo
And we will wash and wash,
Wash and wash,
Wash and wash
We squeeze shampoo
And we will wash and wash
Wash it clean.
We take a towel (1 syllable)
And we'll wipe us dry,
Wipe us dry,
We take a towel
And we'll wipe us dry
Dry it up.
Which of these is your favorite?
I've Been Working On The Railroad
Our favorite kid songs and their origins.
You're bound to remember these popular tunes for kids, which are deeply rooted in history and spirituality.
I've been working on the railroad
An American folk song that gradually became popular with children, the earliest version appeared as the Levee Song appeared in Camina Princetonia, a compilation of songs Princeton University published in 1894,
The earliest recording of the song was by Sandhills Sixteen in 1927. "Dinah won't you blow is a more recent addition to the song.
John Brown's Baby
John Brown's Baby - The Kid's Version
John Brown's Baby
Popular during the American Civil War, this song was about the abolitionist John Brown.
The lyrics the begin the chorus, Glory Hallelujah, have become a popular refrain that has been added, as a medley, to other songs Like O When the Saints Go Marching In.
The song teaches children a little history. It also has a catch tempo and melody in spite of its rather serious theme.
She'll Be Coming Round The Mountain
She'll be Coming Round the Mountain
This is an uptempo song with cool, repetitive, catchy lyrics that are easily echoed in good fun.
It has greater spirituality than we first thought. It originally referred to the second coming of Christ. "She' in the song refers to the chariot returning Christ, imagined as driving.
The religious verses are not often taught in secular settings. Regardless, it's become a kid song we all remember.
Pop Goes The Weasel
Pop Goes the Weasel
This is usually played to the opening of the Jack in the Box, which is often referred to as the "Weasel". A Jack in the Box originally referred to a nasty instead of a pleasant surprise.
The song seems to have begun in 1853 as an Old English Dance performed by courtiers.It grew in popularity and even became featured in the Church of England's pamphlet.
In spite of it's slightly adult or darker origin, it's now a catchy, fun, popular kid song.
On Top of Old Smokey for Kids
On Top of Old Smokey
Old Smokey may refer to a high mountain up in the Appalachians. The tune bears remarkable resemblance to the Scottish and Irish ditties brought in by the people who populated the region.
It's not clear when the song was first recorded, though recently deceased folk singer and activist Pete Seeger said that he learned a version that was played to a banjo up in the Appalachians.
The Modern Kid Song
The ever popular Hi Five delivers what kids really want these days, with upbeat tempos, catchy melodies and repetitive though groovy and updated lyrics.
Do enjoy their compilation.
Modern Kid Songs By Hi Five
Kid songs are fun, a positive learning experience for a child and relatively easy to write. Some of the ones we know are steeped in rich history.
Original work by Michelle Liew Tsui-Lin
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