Children love to sing and move to music. They light up when a familiar song is played and they can get involved through wriggling and moving their bodies to the music, and through known actions. It's the familiarity of the tunes, their upbeat nature and their simplicity and joyfulness which instantly puts a spring in little one's steps.
Here are 10 songs which children can enjoy, which have actions. As a mom one might remember these songs from one's own childhood and get great joy singing along with their child.
10 'The Wheels On The Bus'
This one is a favorite, especially for long journeys or when you are going on vacation. The way it goes is that everyone has a turn to say who or what is on the bus in the song and then to come up with a unique action that specific person or thing would use.
For example, 'The wheels on the bus go round and round...', or 'The granny on the bus goes "sh, sh, sh!"' Most moms have memories of singing this on the school bus on the way to field trips and there is a reason this song has stood the test of time.
9 'I love you, you love me'
This one is of Barney the Dinosaur fame and like it or hate it, there is a reason kids love it so much. It creates unity and feelings of well-being.
This, and it is familiar to most children - and their moms. Small children also associate it with the beloved Barney, making it all the more appealing. Little ones need to be loved and cuddled and this fulfills their need for familiarity and affection.
8 'Do Your Ears Hang Low?'
Most moms will recall singing this as kids: 'Do your ears hang low, do they wobble to and fro...' This one has some exciting actions - the swinging of arms as ears, military marching. The lyrics are slightly complicated for smaller children but bigger children will love them.
Children will also find the quaint lyrics and actions endearing. Some might even giggle at the thought of ears wobbling to and fro.
7 'Looby Loo'
This energetic song is another which has stood the test of time. It is great for kids because it teaches them left from right and skills like coordination and concentration.
It also has a catchy tune and is relatively active (kids like 'busy' songs). Children might wonder what 'Looby Loo' means and might ask you this. You probably won't know either but that's okay. It's all about having fun.
6 'Row, Row, Row Your Boat'
This song allows for some merry rowing action by little ones and the lyrics are easy enough to remember for smaller kids.
For babies and toddlers, mommy can sit with her legs straight and let the little one sit on the outstretched legs, facing mom, as though her legs were a boat. She can then bend and straighten her legs as though they were the motion of the boat, and move her child's arms forward in a rowing motion. Very small children will love this! Older kids can hold hands and face each other.
5 'Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush'
This is a great song for getting everyone's input. The child goes around the mulberry bush, linking hands with their friends and each person has a turn to say what everyone should show through their actions. For example, "This is the way we... brush our hair" (in which case everyone shows how they brush their hair), or "This is the way we ... eat our food" (in which instance, everyone demonstrates through actions how they eat their food).
When singing this song with your child or children, let each person add an inventive action and see who can come up with the most fun, engaging one.
4 'The Macarena'
While this song is outdated and perhaps classed as slightly cheesy in the grown-up world, kids will love it for its upbeat music and vibey actions. The actions might seem simple for an adult but for children they can be quite challenging (still, not impossible).
Children will like the challenge of getting their hands and arms in the right position and they will probably do the Macarena with some giggle, trying to get it right and watching their friends trying to do the same.
3 'The Grand Old Duke Of York'
Many of the songs which children love also teach skills like spatial awareness. Children learn coordination through the actions, and they learn to engage their bodies in a meaningful way.
The Grand Old Duke Of York teaches spatial concepts such as 'up' and 'down'. When the duke and his troops march up, they must put their bodies up and when the duke and his troops march down, they must crouch down. Most enjoy the act of crouching so that their bodies are close to the ground.
2 'Oranges and Lemons'
While this can't be sung with actions using just one child, it is a great party game. Two children form an arch and everyone gets to go through.
Someone eventually gets their head "chopped off" and this all makes for an exciting song, with suspense and action. The actions are fairly easy to learn, and the game is fun.
1 'Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star'
This is an old favorite which has its origins in Mozart's time. The actions are simple, the melody is beautiful, and small girls especially love the stars and the diamond in the sky and the sweet melody.
Most moms will have their own memories around the song and will delight in passing on the 'Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star' traditions to their kids. This song is not just great for doing actions to. It is also one which calms and soothes a child.