Singin’ in the Rain

April is a wet month in my city, so I was appropriately thrilled to see Tim Hopgood’s stunningly illustrated picture book version of Singing in the Rain show up on my desk this week. And now I can’t recall why I’ve never sung this on a showery spring storytime day before.

There are additional lyrics, and some beautifully advanced arrangements out there, but for my purposes, two chords will do nicely. I’ve borrowed this version from the Vancouver Ukulele Circle Songbook. It also sounds nice if you play E7 and A.

Singin’ in the Rain is by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown, written around 1929.

Singin’ in the Rain
C7   F

I'm singin' in the rain, just singin' in the rain

What a glorious feeling, I'm happy again

I'm laughing at clouds so dark up above

The sun's in my heart and I'm ready for love

Let the stormy clouds chase, everyone from this place

Come on with the rain, I've a smile on my face

I walk down the lane with a happy refrain

Just singin' and singin' in the rain



Row Row Row Your Boat

This selection of songs has flexible storytime uses. Travelling, Travelling would be perfect with a set of vehicle felts, Row It All Around with puppets, Rock Your Boat as a baby bounce, and Drive Your Truck as an action-bounce along the lines of Hurry Hurry Drive the Fire Truck.

For repetition-with-variation, try a few different versions during your storytime session or introduce a book like Jane Cabrera’s animal-themed Row Row Row Your Boat. Known sources are linked in titles.

Row Row Row Your Boat

Row, row, row your boat

Gently down the stream

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
G7             C

Life is but a dream

Rock Your Boat

Rock, rock, rock your boat

Gently to and fro

Look out, give a shout
G7                 C

Into the water you go!

If You See a Crocodile

Row, row, row your boat

Gently down the stream

If you see a crocodile
G7              C

Don't forget to scream!

Row It All Around
Row, row, row your boat

Row it all around

If you see a ______
G7             C

Make a ______ sound

I’m a Submarine

Row, row, row your boat

Underneath the stream

Ha ha, fooled you
G7          C

I'm a submarine!

Drive, Drive, Drive Your Truck

Drive, drive, drive your truck

All around the town

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
G7                C

Up the hills and down


Turn...the key/Make the engine roar...Let's go to the store
Press...the pedal/Give the engine gas...Now we’re going fast
Turn...the wheel/That is how we steer....Make a turn right here
Push...the brake/Make the truck slow down...Now we are in town

Travelling, Travelling

Row, row, row your boat

Gently round the lake

Travelling, travelling on the water
G7                  C

Boats are what you take


Drive...your car/Have a merry cruise... on the road/Cars are what you use
Fly...your plane/High up in the air... through the sky/Planes will get you there
Chug...your train/Chug along the track...on the rails/Trains go there and back
Stamp...your feet/Stamp them on the ground...on the paths/Walk to get around

Other Variations Include
Dino Dinosaur
Hug Your Bear
Ocean Row Row Row
Ride Your Sled
Shake Your Eggs

What Are You Wearing (and variations)

I love how songs evolve as they’re passed between musicians, children, and storytimers.  This 1969 Hap Palmer tune has been reinterpreted numerous times. The original song is about clothing, but most storytime versions I’ve heard are about colours. There’s also a Spanish version, and a phoneme-focused version. In all instances, it’s a wonderful up-and-down, moving about, participatory song.

I’m not sure who originated the colours and actions I’ve included below, but the earliest recording I’ve come across is Kathy Reid-Naiman’s 1999 album, Say Hello to the Morning. The movements can be a bit complicated for wee little ones, so I’ll usually sing “nod your head” the whole way through to facilitate easier learning and quicker participation. I post coloured circles on the felt board to show what we’ve already chosen, and for the finale we sing, “if you’re wearing clothes” or “if you’re wearing colours,” so everyone can take part.

Thanks to my creative colleague Kate for the weather and feelings variations. These chords are simplified and transposed from Dany Rosevear’s Singing Games for Children site. To hear the tune, listen to a clip from a Rainbow Songs album here.

What Are You Wearing?
C                      F

What are you wearing, what are you wearing
G7                     C
What are you wearing, today today?
What are you wearing, what are you wearing
G7                      C
What are you wearing today?

C                       F    C

If you're wearing red, stand up
                           G7        C
And if you're wearing red, nod your head
                        F     C
If you're wearing red, turn around
   G7                                C
And if you're wearing red, sit back down


Blue... touch your shoe
Green... be a jumping bean
Pink... give a wink
Black... pat your back
White... be a bird in flight
Clothes... touch your nose

How Are You Feeling?
C                     F

How are you feeling, how are you feeling
G7                    C
How are you feeling, today today?
How are you feeling, how are you feeling
G7                     C
How are you feeling today?

C                              F      C

If you're feeling mad, make a fierce face
                        G7         C
If you're feeling mad, stomp your feet


Other emotions and matching actions...

What is the Weather?
C                     F

What is the weather, what is the weather
G7                    C
What is the weather, today today?
What is the weather, what is the weather
G7                     C
What is the weather today?

Loo La Lay

Sing this gently like a lullaby, or loud and silly. Suzy, the amazing librarian I learned this from, switches up the phonemes to play subsequent verses with different consonants. How perfect for little babies learning their sounds! You can make it extra goofy by singing as cows (moo ma ma), ghosts (boo ba ba), babies (goo ga ga), or anything else you think up. Listen to it here.

Thanks to Els for reminding me what a great ukulele song this is, and to Julia who mentioned that she could use a few more lullabies for her babytime.

Loo La Lay
C                         G7

Loo la la la, loo la la, loo la la lay
Loo la la la, loo la la, loo la la lay

Loo la la loo la la loo la la lay
       C         G7      C
La la loo la loo la loo lay

Babies: Goo ga ga ga, goo ga ga...
Cows: Moo ma ma ma, moo ma ma...
Ghosts: Boo ba ba ba, boo ba ba...
Sounds: Any consonant...

Frere Jacques variations (with felts)

There are so many variations on Frere Jacques that I split these two felt-adapted songs into their own post. If you have clip-art or felt images that fit the descriptors, I Am Hungry can be nicely participatory, and encourage some discussion around foods we eat. I’m hoping to add more options to this set over time.

This translation and transliteration of Two Tigers is via Embracing Diversity, the Burnaby Public Library’s fantastic multilingual song and rhyme repository. I practiced singing the Mandarin words for over a week so I could attempt a semi-reasonable pronunciation, and posted the words in both languages at storytime so the grown-ups in attendance could sing along with me. Listen to it here

For felters, this free colouring sheet is the pattern for my tigers.  And  for beginner players, remember you can ignore the chords here entirely and just strum away on C the whole way through.

I Am Hungry
C  G7 C         G7  C

I am hungry! (I am hungry)
      G7      C           G7      C

What should I eat? (What should I eat?)
           G7         C                G7         C

Think I’ll have some pizza (Think I’ll have some pizza)
        G7   C            G7   C

Without any meat (Without any meat)

Borscht... with purple beets
Cocoa... with lots of heat
Fresh Fruit... for a treat
Ice Cream... cold and sweet
Sandwich... on whole wheat
___________(any food)... that sounds neat

Two Tigers
Liăng Zhī Lăo Hŭ / Two Tigers
C     G7   C            G7   C

Liăng zhī lăo hŭ, liăng zhī lăo hŭ
    G7  C        G7  C

Păo de kuài, păo de kuài
       G7      C              G7      C

Yì zhī méi yŏu ěr duo, yì zhī méi yŏu yĭ ba
     G7  C         G7  C

Zhēn qí guài, zhēn qí guài!

C G7 C        G7 C

Two tigers, two tigers
  G7 C      G7 C

Run fast, run fast
        G7   C            G7    C

One without ears, one without a tail
   G7 C        G7 C

How strange, how strange!

Frere Jacques (and variations)

There are dozens of songs based on Frere Jacques, and these are the ones I’d be most likely to use at storytime. Click the titles to see my sources, and stay tuned for a couple related felt stories next post.

Some of my favourite variations are better with hand gestures (Roly Poly, Fruit Salad), actions (Walking, Walking), shakers (Popcorn Kernels), scarves (Make a Circle), or felts (Two Tigers, I Am Hungry), so I’d be inclined to introduce many of these without the ukulele the first time we sing them in a storytime series.

Note that while this version includes a lot of transitions, you can also play the entire song strumming a single chord.  It’s the easiest song ever.  Try it with C.

Frere Jacques
C  G7  C          G7  C

Frere Jacques, Frere Jacques
    G7  C        G7  C

Dormez-vous? Dormez-vous?
       G7      C            G7    C
Sonnez les matines, sonnez les matines
     G7    C          G7   C

Ding dang dong, ding dang dong

Bear is Sleeping
C    G7  C             G7 C

Bear is sleeping, bear is sleeping
      G7   C           G7   C

Bird flew south, bird flew south
             G7      C                   G7      C

Squirrel is storing acorns, squirrel is storing acorns
   G7  C         G7  C

In her mouth, in her mouth

I Hear Thunder
C  G7   C         G7   C

I hear thunder, I hear thunder
      G7    C         G7    C

Hark don’t you? Hark don’t you?
        G7     C                 G7     C

Pitter patter raindrops, pitter patter raindrops
    G7   C          G7  C

I’m wet through, so are you!

C  G7  C            G7   C

I see blue skies, I see blue skies
    G7  C        G7  C

Way up high, way up high
      G7     C               G7     C

Hurry up the sunshine, hurry up the sunshine
       G7   C          G7   C

We’ll soon dry, we’ll soon dry

C   G7  C       G7  C

Peek-a-boo, peek-a-boo
   G7  C      G7  C

I see you! I see you!
            G7     C                G7   C

I see your button nose, I see your tiny toes!
    G7  C     G7   C

Peek-a-boo! I see you!

Popcorn Kernels
C  G7   C            G7   C

Popcorn kernels, popcorn kernels
   G7   C      G7   C

In the pot, in the pot
            G7           C

Shake them, shake them, shake them
             G7           C
Shake them, shake them, shake them
      G7   C         G7   C

Till they pop! Till they pop!

Roly Poly
C G7  C      G7 C

Roly poly, roly poly
   G7 C      G7 C

Up up up, up up up
      G7   C          G7   C

Roly roly poly, roly roly poly
      G7   C          G7   C

Down down down, down down down


Walking Through the Forest
C        G7          C               G7          C

Walking through the forest, walking through the forest
     G7    C         G7    C

What do I hear? What do I hear? (hiss)
          G7     C                 G7      C

I think I heard a snake, I think I heard a snake
      G7   C          G7   C

Hiss hiss hiss, hiss hiss hiss

Other animals and their sounds

Walking Walking
C  G7   C            G7   C

Walking walking, walking walking
    G7   C       G7   C

Hop hop hop, hop hop hop
         G7      C                G7      C

Running running running, running running running
    G7  C        G7  C

Now we stop, now we stop

Similar: Run run run

Where is the Letter
C     G7  C         G7  C

Where is “A?” Where is “A?”
      G7 C         G7  C

There it is, there it is
           G7          C                     G7         C

What’s the sound that “A” makes? What’s the sound that “A” makes?
    G7  C        G7  C

Aah aah aah, aah aah aah

Other letters and their sounds

Where is Baby
C     G7  C            G7  C

Where is ______? Where is ______?
       G7    C          G7    C

There she/he is! There she/he is!
          G7      C                 G7     C

We’re so glad to see you! We’re so glad to see you!
    G7 C        G7 C

Peek-a-boo! Peek-a-boo!

Where is Thumbkin
C     G7  C              G7  C

Where is thumbkin? Where is thumbkin?
    G7 C       G7 C

Here I am, here I am
        G7     C             G7      C

How are you today sir? Very well, I thank you
    G7 C      G7 C

Run away, run away

Other Variations Include
Fruit Salad
Leaves are Twirling
Tops and Bottoms Handwashing Song
I Am Popcorn
Let’s Go Riding
Make a Circle
Snowflakes Falling
Where is Puppet

Baby Beluga

Baby Beluga is lyrically complex and fairly long, so if I sing it at storytime I’ll try to print out song sheets. Though it’s such a beloved children’s song (dating to parents’ childhoods now), that there are always a handful of folks who don’t need it.

I’m only including the first verse and last line, so if you need a refresher, head over to Raffi’s website where he’s kindly shared the full lyrics and his own musical arrangement. The chords below are slightly simplified from the songbook of the Vancouver Ukulele Circle. And yes, I posted this once before, but my computer ate it, so here it is again:

Baby Beluga

Baby beluga in the deep blue sea
Swim so wild and you swim so free

Heaven above, and the sea below

And a little white whale on the go

F            C            D

Baby beluga, baby beluga, is the water warm?

Is your mama home with you, so happy

Verse 2: Way down yonder where the dolphins play...

Verse 3: When it's dark, you're home and fed...

Conclusion: Repeat first four lines, then:

C              F           G7           C
You're just a little white whale on the go