Tag Archives: singing to children

Kids Road Trip Music – Oh No, Not That Song!

Screen shot 2014-07-11 at 3.21.28 PM

It’s true – there are songs that parents love to hate. And kids love to sing because they are annoying beyond belief. So consider this post part summer songfest and part warning. These songs are funny and cute but they are also infectious earworms and some of them go on and on and on… just like a bad car ride!

100 Bottle Of Pop On The Wall

Okay, I am old enough to remember singing this song as 100 bottles of beer on the wall with my older brother pretending he was drunker after each bottle was counted down. Later versions use bottles of pop (soda), milk, juice or perhaps you can find another liquid to insert in this never-ending song

The lyrics are really simple.

100 bottles of pop on the wall, 100 bottles of pop

You take one down

And pass it around

99 bottles of pop on the wall!

(And so forth until you can’t stand it any longer.)

Redeeming value of this song? You do learn to count backwards. And to develop patience!

Screen shot 2014-07-11 at 3.20.39 PMI Know A Song That Gets On Everybody’s Nerve

And, boy – does it! This short, repeating song is sung to the tune of “Glory Hallelujia”, but you’ll only say “Glory Hallelujia” once it’s over.

Here’s the lyrics:

I know a song that gets on everybody’s nerves

I know a song that gets on everybody’s nerves

I know a song that gets on everybody’s nerves

And this is how it goes

(Back to the first line)

You can find a very annoying version of that song here:


The Song That Never Ends

Similar to “Everybody’s Nerves”, this infinite loop of a song has a bit more of a story and a few more words. I’m not sure it that makes it better – or worse!
This is the song that never ends,

yes it goes on and on my friend.

Some people started singing it, not knowing what it was,

and they’ll continue singing it forever just because…

(Back to the first line)

We’re also pretty sure we’ve located the most annoying video of this song ever – right here:

Aren’t There More Annoying Songs? 

You bet there are!

In a few days we’ll add the next few songs which rose to the top of our parent’s lists of annoying road trip songs – including “The Bear Went Over The Mountain” and “There’s A Hole In The Bottom Of The Sea”.

But do you have a particular favorite? Please comment below or drop me a line at dariamusic at yahoo dot com so I can add it here, too.  Thanks – and enjoy your next road trip, either with or without these classic kids songs!


Favorite Holiday Songs From Around The World – Jingle Bells in Chinese

jingle bells chinese 1 Have you ever heard the song, Jingle Bells in (Mandarin) Chinese? It’s irresistible! And it’s a perfect way to introduce your child to a beautiful new language as part of their musical play and exploration!

I learned this song from a wonderful Mommy blogger named Lina Dickson who is actively “bringing up baby, bilingually”. Since the winter festivities are close at hand, it can be a perfect way of combining music, learning a new language and holiday fun.

Even if you don’t attempt the whole song, the chorus is very easy to learn. Instead of Jingle Bells, it is:

(Pinyin) Dīng dīng dāng Dīng dīng dāng
(English Translation) Ding ding dang, Ding ding dang,

(Pinyin) Líng’ér xiǎng dīng dāng
(English Translation) The bells jingle

(Pinyin) wǒ men huá xuě duo kuài lè
(English Translation) We have lots of fun sledding

(English Translation) Riding of the sleigh
(Pinyin) wǒ men zuò zài xuě qāio shàng hei

jingle bells chinese 2Check out the video animation below or head over to Lina’s Best4Baby site to see a version that has the perfect word by word translation. Lina’s site also has a pdf teaching the complete lyrics in Chinese through the actual Chinese characters, through pinyin and the English translation. If you aren’t familiar with pinyin, it is a system developed to write out how Chinese characters or words are pronounced including the correct inflection to use.


Jingle Bells Lyrics in Chinese Characters, Pinyin and English Translation form Best4Future Website


Jingle Bell Craft Booklet pdfWant to make some jingle bells to jingle along with the song – no matter what language you’re enjoying it in? My monthly song page has a free craft booklet sharing 4 different ways to create homemade jingle instruments from recycled materials.

Stop on over, get your copy and you can … jingle all the way!



Best Songs For Young Kids – “You’re A Grand Old Flag”

grand old flagFeeling patriotic?

Almost anyone can sing the chorus to this popular patriotic song that dates back to 1906.  But did you know it was originally written with the title – You’re A Grand Old Rag”?  Created by a popular composer of that era, George M. Cohan, this particular song was the first to sell over a million copies of sheet music as part of a musical revue called “George Washington, Jr.”.  Perhaps that makes it one of the first chart-topping hits of American history.

Here’s an animated video of the version that most folks recognize and enjoy.

But what about the original “Grand Old Flag?”  Why was the title “You’re A Grand Old Rag”?  The story is told that George M. Cohan found himself seated next to a veteran of the battle of Gettysburg from the civil war one day. The soldier had a worn and torn, but carefully folded American flag.  When Cohan asked about it, the vet replied – “Ah, she’s a grand old rag” and that became the original title of the song.   As time went on, many performers and groups objected to calling the flag a rag.  After several years, Cohan relented to popular sentiment and the song became “Grand Old Flag”.

If you look at the complete lyrics, there are some odd lines and references in the song.  It seems that the writer slipped the titles and lyrics to other patriotic or popular songs into this piece of music.  It was a clever way of sharing some of other songs that he used in his George Washington musical, such as “Yankee Doodle” or “I Wish I Were In Dixie” (Way down south in the land of cotton). And the lyrics “should auld acquaintance be forgot” is clearly from the old time classic “Auld Lang Syne”.

When this song is sung by kids or for kids, most people use the chorus only.  That’s probably because the two original verses have language that seems a bit outdated  to modern ears.  It would be hard to find anyone today that might say: “by gum!”, “I’m no cranky hanky panky” or” I’m a dead square, honest Yankee”.  Still, with all that said, the chorus of the song is a patriotic gem.  It’s easy to sing and shares powerful feelings of what it means to love and cherish your country and treasure one of it’s most honored symbols.

When I recorded a version of this song, I used old timey instruments. I played the spoons as the rhythm and had an old-fashioned jaw harp as well.  I remembered my uncles who had served in the 2nd world war using really simple instruments like this and how the song made them feel proud of their service to the USA.

Here are the most popular version of the lyrics from the chorus:

You’re a grand old flag,

You’re a high flying flag

And forever in peace may you wave.

You’re the emblem of

The land I love.

The home of the free and the brave

Ev’ry heart beats true

‘neath the Red, White and Blue,

Where there’s never a boast or brag.

But should auld acquaintance be forgot

Keep your eye on the grand old flag.


Daria’s Children’s song version of You’re A Grand Old Flag (complete with spoons and a jaw harp) at:



Amazon mp3




Downloadable lyric sheet:


George M. Cohan was a prolific songwriter as well as a playwright, composer, lyricist, actor, singer, dancer and producer. You can find out more about him here:


Complete Lyrics to You’re A Grand Old Flag

By George M. Cohan

Verse 1

There’s a feeling comes a-stealing,

And it sets my brain a-reeling,

When I’m listening to the music of a military band.

Any tune like “Yankee Doodle”

Simply sets me off my noodle,

It’s that patriotic something that no one can understand.

“Way down south in the land of cotton”

Melody untiring,

Ain’t that inspiring?

Hurrah, Hurrah, We’ll join the jubilee!

And that’s going some, for the Yankees by gum!

Red, white and blue, I am for you!

Honest, you’re a grand old flag!

Verse 2

I’m no cranky hanky panky,

I’m a dead square, honest Yankee,

And I’m mighty proud of that old flag

That flies for Uncle Sam.

Though I don’t believe in raving

Ev’ry time I see it waving,

There’s a chill runs up my back that makes me glad I’m what I am.

Here’s a land with a million soldiers,

That’s if we should need ‘em,

We’ll fight for freedom!

Hurrah! Hurrah! For every Yankee tar

And old G. A. R.

Ev’ry stripe, ev’ry star.

Red, white and blue,

Hats off to you

Honest, you’re a grand old flag!


You’re a grand old flag,

You’re a high flying flag

And forever in peace may you wave.

You’re the emblem of

The land I love.

The home of the free and the brave

Ev’ry heart beats true

‘neath the Red, White and Blue,

Where there’s never a boast or brag.

But should auld acquaintance be forgot

Keep your eye on the grand old flag.

You can hear a 1906 recording of the complete song – sung by Billy Murray here:


Version of the entire song performed by the United States Air Force Band


Easiest Instruments For Young Children – The Guiro!

The guiro is a perfect “first instrument” to share with young children.  It’s incredibly simple and versatile at the same time.  In a matter of minutes, a child can be exploring the sounds created by the guiro and making rhythms by rubbing the rasp back and forth or up and down along the surface of the guiro.

What Is A Guiro?

Although you can find similar instruments all over the world, a guiro is an instrument with Latin American roots that was originally made from wood, bone or gourds carved to have a ridged surface.  In the picture above you can see a bone guiro from Mexico, a wooden version and a homemade guiro made from a recycled plastic water bottle.  Some modern guiros are made of plastic or metal as well.

homemade guiro and 6 raspsPlay A Guiro With A Rasp

To play a guiro you rub an object across the ridges on the surface of your instrument.  Older guiros often have sharp metal rasps so it can be useful to substitute more child-safe choices.  Here are some fun ways to create sound on a guiro.  They include hair picks, plastic spoons/forks/sporks, chopsticks, an egg whisk or an unsharpened pencil.  Each will create a slightly different sound when used to play the guiro.

Make A Simple Guiro

Since it’s unlikely that you have the perfect dried gourd or an old bone lying around your house, start this musical craft in your recycling bin.  Sort through the plastic bottles to see if you have one that has ridges and is sturdy enough to use in this project.

Although your plastic bottle guiro is ready to play “as is”, you can also add some decoration inside the bottle and seal it up before you begin to play. You can look for things like confetti or colorful paper shreds.  Or you can choose to add objects that will make the bottle work as a rattle as well.  To make a guiro that doubles as a rattle, add a small amount of any on-hand material such as bird seed, beads, pebbles or dried beans, rice or pasta.

paper shred guiroIf you’ve add anything to the inside, it’s a good idea to seal the bottle with a strong tape; such as electrical tape, so the contents will stay inside and keep the bottle from being opened when played.  You might even want to attach your rasp to the guiro with some colorful ribbon or yarn as in the example here

Play Your Guiro!

You’ve probably already figured this out!  The guiro is played by scraping back and forth or up and down along the ridges.  You can put on some of your favorite music and let your child experiment with what sounds good to them.  Or you can learn some basic rhythms together with your child.  Here are some fun ways to begin.

Try playing along with a whole song by just scraping down or by just scraping up.

Try playing along with a song by scraping: down/up, down/up, down/up.

Try playing along with a song by scraping:

down/up – down/up/down…, down/up – down/up/down…

Discover the patterns that sound good to your ear or write a new song to go along with a rhythm you’ve just discovered.  If you start with this simple and clever little instrument, there’s no telling how much creative musical fun you can have!

Related Links:

See, Hear and Color A Guiro Here:


Play Along With A Bilingual Version of La Cucaracha here:



Over In The Meadow – A Great Song For Welcoming Spring and Counting Baby Animals!

nting imageWhat’s more fun than animal babies?

One of my favorite children’s songs – Over In The Meadow – combines cute creatures and learning the skill of counting to ten.   I first heard the song from a friend of mine who was a folksinger in Appalachia, but later found out that this popular rhyme may date back as far as the 1600’s in England.  So it seems that some things are universal.  Parents love to teach their children with music and no one can resist a baby animal!

The songs starts in a pond in the sun with one mother frog and her “little froggy one”.  Then there are kittens, birds, worms, bees, dogs, owls, ducks, mice, and even ten spiders.  And, best of all, each of the animal babies know how to listen to their elders!  Since the song has an easy-to-follow formula, even the youngest kids get the idea of counting up one number each time and can easily follow or sing along.

Although the song was originally written with each animal and their mommy, I’ve added dads, grandmas and grandpas to the verses in my version.  In my travels I had met many kids that did not always have traditional families or a mom at home as a caregiver, so I changed the song a bit to help these children feel that their family was special and important, too.

You can see my version of Over In The Meadow here:

Over In The Meadow – Lyric Page

Over In The Meadow – Printable Lyric Page

Over In The Meadow On Itunes (Track 13)

Over In The Meadow On Amazon Mp3

Write Your Own “12 Days Of Christmas” Carol!

12 daysSinging with your children is one of the simple pleasures of the holiday season.  It’s a great time to relive memories from your childhood and also to make new ones for your family! Have you ever thought of making your own, custom-tailored Christmas song?  If you have creative kids and a sense of humor, you can easily make your own version of the classic holiday song – the Twelve Days of Christmas.

Almost everyone is familiar with the song’s lyrics:

“On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me,

a partridge in a pear tree.”

Then, each day, a new gift is added and the list becomes part of the song.  To see the popular list of 12 days/gifts, take a look below.  However, originally the song was used as part of a memory game where each person added a verse and then had to recite all the items that had come before them.  Some people believe there is special hidden symbolism in the words, and that each items reflects some part of the story of the life of Jesus.  In any event, the song has been treasured and passed down for many generations and has easily become part of holiday festivities in countries all over the globe.

How can you write your own version?  Use the same melody and format, but add the names of things that are special to you and your loved ones.  You can also describe what the holiday means to people in your area.  For instance, here’s a great version of the 12 days of Christmas written by a class of school children in St. Croix.  The wanted to share what holiday cheer meant to them on their island.  It’s a funny and fun version of their own special 12 days and I especially love their choice for day 5 – five centipedes!

Here’s what they created:

On The Twelve Days of Christmas – Crucian Style
On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me,
An iguana in a Mango tree.
On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me,
2 forts with cannons etc.
On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me,
3 mocko jumbies etc. (Special stilt walkers seen in St. Croix)
On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me,
4 frogs a singing etc.
On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me,
5 centipedes etc.
On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me,
6 cruise ships coming etc.
On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me,
7 roosters crowing etc
On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me,
8 geckos climbing etc.
On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me,
9 lobsters swimming etc
On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me,
10 Crucians speaking etc
On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me,
11 children dancing etc.
On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me,
12 steel pans drumming etc.

What can you sing about?  Choose anything that is a part of your holiday celebration.  Will there be a number of presents wrapping?  A nativity set up?  Cookies being baked?  Visits to friends?  Are their ornaments to be hung?  Special pictures to be taken?  Carols sung by the tree?  If you enlist your kids help, it won’t be hard to find 12 things you all love about Christmas to turn into a very special and unique song.

Here’s hoping this fun holiday song makes some great memories for you and your family this year!

The Original 12 Days of Christmas

1 A Partridge in a Pear Tree

2 Turtle Doves

3 French Hens

4 Calling (or Colly) Birds

5 Golden Rings

6 Geese A-Laying

7 Swans A Swimming

8 Maids A-Milking

9 Ladies Dancing

10 Lords A-Leaping

11 Pipers Piping

12 Drummers Drumming


Many thanks to Miss Barb and her students at the AZ Academy on the island of St. Croix for allowing me to share their creative songwriting in this post!

Illustration is from the Catholic Toolbox, who have created a cute memory game with the twelve images seen here:


Go Ahead – Play With The Box!

rattle box suppliesAlmost every parent has had the experience of giving their child a special present and finding that they were more excited about playing with the box. So, why fight it? With the holidays bringing so many different size and shape packages to your doorstep, it’s a great time to have a little musical fun by creating instruments called rattle boxes. If you add textured fabric or paper as you decorate them, it becomes a musical and sensory experience as well!

This flexible craft is also a great way to recycle bits and pieces of other craft projects that you might have on hand. Take a look at these basic supplies: any size cardboard container or mailing tube, any variety of paper, fabric or bric-brac, plain glue, hot glue or any type of tape. For the inside, you can use anything from extra jingle bells to pebbles, dried macaroni, bird seed or even Q-tips or paper clips. The list below offers some ideas for quiet, medium and loud rattling boxes.

maraca contentsMake Your Box Rattle!

Before you seal the box or tube and decorate the outside, choose a filling. Try it out and see if you like the sound it makes when you shake it around. Some things like Q-tips make a wonderful quiet sound and objects such as buttons, beads or pebbles made for louder noise when played.

Seal it Up!

Although you’ll be decorating the outside of the container, it’s a good idea to take packing tape and seal up the edges or other places where the contents might escape to contain any objects that might present a choking hazard.

Decorate The Outside

Here’s where you can get creative. Wrap the box in fabric or different papers. Create a simple design or go crazy with a patchwork effect. Some fabrics you might use are wonderful to touch such as felt, velvet, velour, suede or gauze. Scrapbooking papers often have nice textures that can add to the sensory experience of this project as well. Add fabric swatches or trim and glue or hot glue in place.

Shake, Rattle and Roll Away!

Now it’s time to play. Put on some of your favorite music and rock out! You can shake back and forth, up and down, fast or slow. You can play quietly or loudly. I encourage parents to make a few of these and play along with their child or make some for siblings to hear how the sound is different as you play. Although this is a simple and fun activity, it also is a great way of developing listening skills and for exploring the world through touch. As you’re having fun with your child you might say: “Let’s play the quiet soft box with this song”, “Let’s switch to the loud fuzzy box for this one!” or “What sounds good to you? “Which one would you pick?”

You Can Make Your Box Rattle With:

A Quiet Rattle Box:

sand, salt, sugar, confetti, cotton balls, craft puff balls, paper bits, Q-tips, tiny pasta (such as pastina or acine de pepe).

A Medium Rattle Box:

paper clips, small pebbles, birdseed, small beads, small dried beans, rice, smaller buttons.

A Loud Rattle Box:

dried macaroni/pasta, large pebbles, large beads, coins, large dried beans, larger buttons.


Find more easy and fun musical crafts at:


A Baby’s Musical World

Guest Post by Music Educator, Leslie Denning of Music With Miss Leslie

As an early childhood music educator, I’ve often gotten looks that range from shock to incredulity when I ask parents if they would be interested in music for their babies. I know that in their minds, they see a baby sitting down at the piano and learning to play. Impossible! they say. And they are right. However, that’s not what music education for babies is all about.

Research into early childhood music education has uncovered some interesting things about babies in music, such as:

  • Babies seem to remember and respond to music they hear in utero
  • Babies seem to be born with the ability to feel a beat
  • Music is one of the seven intelligences, which also includes linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial kinesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal intelligences

There is a lot more going on in a baby’s musical world than meets the eye.

Most mommies and daddies are ecstatic over their newborns and are anxious to do whatever they can to maximize their baby’s potential. There is an often bewildering array of educational toys, electronic devices, books, DVDs, and CDs aimed at helping parents help their children. However, sometimes the simplest things can be the most meaningful to children. Children are usually happier to play with a box, rather than what came in it. And what do you think your baby will value more: a Bose CD player or a loving mommy or daddy cradling him in their arms, looking into their eyes, and singing a song?

There a lot of products that are marketed to be played to babies, when what babies need is for parents to cuddle, play, and interact with them. One of the greatest satisfactions I have had as an early childhood music teacher is to see the joy that comes between parent and child when they make music together – simple music that reaches down to the child and reflects back to the parent. Taking the time to make music with your baby will give enormous benefits to both of you.

Guest post by Leslie Denning, better known as Miss Leslie, is a Missouri-certified music educator, Musikgarten-certified instructor, and owner of her own music studio in Dixon, MO, Second Street Music Academy http://secondstreetmusic.com where she teaches private piano, guitar, and voice lessons to children and adults.  She also has an online store Music with Miss Leslie.net  http://musicwithmissleslie.net which specializes in quality music merchandise for younger children.  You may find out more about her, as well as find music education articles and activities, at Music with Miss Leslie.com  http://musicwithmissleslie.com

A Lullabye To Make Your Own

Recently a wonderful website called Mama Lisa’a World posted a great question. She asked if any dads (or granddads) sang lullabyes to their babies? Answers came in from all over the world showing that lullabyes are still alive and well, not only as special moments between mommies and babies but also among dads, siblings, grandparents and anyone else who might want a baby to fall sleep!

So what songs can you sing? Many folks suggested traditional lullabyes from their own country or culture and a few folks; especially dads, seemed to like modern or pop music – songs that they found soothing and held good memories for them.

Are you looking for a simple lullabye to make you own? You can easily take a popular folksong like “My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean” and turn it into a great bedtime lullabye. But, why sing about Bonnie? Why not add your child’s name to the song and take it from there. If your child’s name is short, you can sing it with the “my” or add “sweet” to make it fit in. For instance:

My David lies over the ocean
My David lies over the sea
My David lies over the ocean
Oh bring back my David to me

Bring back, etc.

Sweet Sarah lies over the ocean
Sweet Sarah lies over the sea
Sweet Sarah lies over the ocean
Oh bring back Sweet Sarah to me

Bring back, etc.

If your child’s name is longer, you can omit the “my”, shorten the name a bit or get creative and fit it in. For instance:

Anastasia lies over the ocean
Anastasia lies over the sea
Anastasia over the ocean
Oh bring back Anastasia to me

Bring back, etc.

Elias lies over the ocean
Elias lies over the sea
Elias over the ocean
Oh bring back Elias to me

Bring back, etc.

Whether you have a newborn, a toddler or even a slightly older child, there’s something very precious about a parent creating a simple song for their child as a happy way to end a busy day or to make a special bedtime moment.

If you want to get even more creative, you can dive in deeper as well. Using the same tune of “My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean”, why not try these lyrics but adding your own children’s names, stuffed animals or other special elements that talk about your home and family.

(To The Tune of My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean)
New lyrics by Daria A. Marmaluk-Hajioannou

It’s time that you sleep now, my darling
(or put in your child’s name)
It’s time that you sleep now, my dear
It’s time that you sleep now, my darling
And know that your mommy (or daddy or…) is near

Sleep well, sleep well,
And know that your mommy (or daddy or…) is near
Sleep well, sleep well,
And know that your mommy (or daddy or…) is near

Your pony (or teddy bear or special toy) is nearby my darling
Your pony is nearby my dear
Your pony is nearby my darling
Your pony and mommy (or daddy or…) are near

The stars keep their watch from the heavens
The stars in the heavens are clear
The stars keep their watch from the heavens
The stars and your mommy (or daddy or…) are near

You can add children in the house:

Soon your sister Anna will sleep, too
Your sister is nearby my dear
Soon your sister Anna will sleep, too
Your sister and mommy are near

If you like, you can add verses like:

Outside the crickets are chirping
Outside the train, it’s a rumbling
Outside, it’s quiet and peaceful
Outside, I hear cars on the highway

With very little effort, you can create a memorable new song that’s all about your family. And it’s verses can go on long enough to put almost any child to sleep!

So, go ahead, croon a lullabye. No matter how tired you may be at night, the sound of your voice singing to your child will be a memory that will always be treasured!

-Daria Marmaluk-Hajioannou

Mama Lisa’s World can be found at:

Daria’s website can be found at:

Daria’s online songbook (with lots of lyrics) can be found at:

A wonderful site with lots of lyrics for simple songs can be found at: