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



Peek-A-Boo
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

Verses
In/Out...
Fast/Slow...
Left/Right...



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

Verses
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

Verses
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
Shapes
Snowflakes Falling
Where is Puppet

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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
C

Baby beluga in the deep blue sea
                     G7
Swim so wild and you swim so free
G7

Heaven above, and the sea below
                                C

And a little white whale on the go


F            C            D

Baby beluga, baby beluga, is the water warm?
                       G7

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

Farmer Brown Had Five Green Apples (and variations)

This mathematical harvest song was requested by my colleague Kate, the author of the pumpkin variation below. I’ve made a couple simple felts to use alongside, as a visual aid is particularly helpful when adding or subtracting with little ones (or reminding distracted adults whereabouts in the song we are). My friend Francesca encourages discussion and emotional awareness when she sings this, asking the children how else they might eat their apples (excitedly, quickly, sadly, etc).

If you’d like to de-Halloween the pumpkin version, sing “cooked” instead of “carved.” Then generate a little thought by asking what that pumpkin might be cooked into. You can listen to it via our song inspiration, Sharon Lois and Bram.

Farmer Brown
Farmer Brown Had Five Green Apples
C                                  G7           C

Farmer Brown had five green apples hanging on a tree
                                   G7           C

Farmer Brown had five green apples hanging on a tree
           F           C             G7           C

Then s/he plucked one apple and s/he ate it hungrily
                           G7             C

Leaving four green apples hanging on the tree...



Farmer Brown Had Three Orange Pumpkins
Farmer Brown Has Three Orange Pumpkins
C                                       G7          C

Farmer Brown has three orange pumpkins sittin’ by a tree
                                        G7          C

Farmer Brown has three orange pumpkins sittin’ by a tree
         F           C                G7        C

So s/he grabbed one pumpkin and s/he carved it happily
                               G7             C

Leaving two orange pumpkins a sittin’ by the tree...





For more storytime felting ideas, see this week’s Flannel Friday roundup at One for the Books

I’m Gonna Count

I was so smitten by the poetic and playful imagery in this song by The Harmonica Pocket that I simplified, transposed, rearranged, and felted it for storytime. And some time ago the post was lost through a synchronization error. So here it is again.

The full lyrics feature creative and complicated counting systems for the delight of older children, and I encourage you to give it a listen.




I’m Gonna Count
C                        F

I'm gonna count all the stones on the beach
C                         G7

Do you want to count the stones with me? (repeat couplet)
C       F

1 2 3 - 4 5 6
C       G7

7 8 9 - 10 11 12 (repeat couplet)
C                        F

I'm gonna count all the stones on the beach
C                        G7          C

Do you want to count the stones with me?

C                        F

I'm gonna count all the leaves on the trees
C                         G7

Do you want to count the leaves with me? (repeat couplet)
C       F

2 4 6 - 8 10 12
C                                    G7

If you don't sing it with me, gonna sing it myself (repeat couplet)
C                        F

I'm gonna count all the leaves on the trees
C                         G7         C

Do you want to count the leaves with me?

C                        F

I'm gonna count all the stars in the sky
C               G7

I never counted up that high (repeat couplet)
C        F

10 20 30 40 50
C     G7

60 70 80 90 (repeat couplet)
C            F       C           G7

One hundred stars up high in the sky
C            F       C           G7 C

One hundred stars up high in the sky

Take Me Out to the Ball Game (and variations)

I’d never thought of Take Me Out to the Ball Game as a storytime song, but colleagues of mine have convinced me otherwise. As only the chorus is well known, that’s all I’ve included here. Song credits belong to Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer from 1908.

I learned These are the Toes of My Baby way back in library school, and have sung it at many happy baby and toddler storytimes. It’s tickly and playful, and makes everyone smile. Jbrary has it too, if you’d like a little inspiration. Take Me out of the Bathtub is from one of Alan Katz’ books of humorous piggyback songs. The complete song is longer than I would use at storytime so this is just the first verse, but you can listen to it all here.

These chords are slightly simplified from the Bytown Ukulele songbook. You can also play in A or C, or ignore the 7s if you prefer standard chords.


Take Me Out to the Ball Game
G                   D7
Take me out to the ball game
G                     D7
Take me out with the crowd
E7                       A7
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack
                   D7
I don't care if I never get back
        G                       D7
Let me root, root, root for the home team
    G                      C
If they don't win, it's a shame
                          G7
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out
        A7  D7   G
At the old ball game



These are the Toes of My Baby
G                        D7
These are the toes of my baby
G                         D7
These are the toes of my guy/gal/child*
E7                              A7
These are their feet and their tiny knees
                       D7
I can’t help it, I’ll give them a squeeze
            G                     D7
And they've got two arms just for hugging
     G                   C
And hands that clap and wave
                            G
But it’s their eyes, ears, nose and their chin
      A7     D7      G
That really draws me in

*vary pronouns as appropriate, male, female, or neutral


Take Me Out of the Bathtub!
G                   D7
Take me out of the bathtub
G                   D7
Take me out of the suds
E7                            A7
I've been here soaking since half past two
                     D7
I feel so sudsy and wrinkle-y too
      G                  D7
Oh, I washed all over my body
   G                   C
My head, my toes, in between
                  G
I used one, two, three bars of soap
        A7      D7  G
Take me out... I'm clean!



Other Variations Include
Take Me Out to the Barnyard by Judy Hall
Take Me Out to the Ocean

If All of the Raindrops

One of my colleagues noted that as storytimers we get excited about new songs, but until the kids warm up to them, they are often not as engaged as we might expect. With this in mind, when I introduce this tune to my toddler group next week, I’m only planning to sing the first verse. We’ll sing the song at least twice, so the second time through we can replace “lemon drops and gum drops” with their own suggestions, but stick with “rain” until they know the song well. Later in the session, if it becomes a favourite, we’ll give the other verses a try.

These lyrics are so evocative and modern that I was sure there would be a songwriter credit, but I haven’t found one yet. My favourite early source is this 1955 Camp Song album by Pete Seeger. For more contemporary recordings (with lyrics closer to the ones below), listen to this or this. These chords are from traditionalmusic.co.uk.


If All of the Raindrops
C                             G7              C
If all of the raindrops were lemon drops and gum drops
           G7            C

Oh what a world it would be
              F            C          G7

I'd stand outside with my mouth open wide, going
C         F       C        G7

Ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah
    C                         G7              C

If all of the raindrops were lemon drops and gum drops
           G7            C

Oh what a world it would be


Verses
Snowflakes... candy bars and milkshakes
Sunbeams... bubble gum and ice cream
Hurricanes... popcorn and candy canes

Down on Grandpa’s Farm (and variations)

Yes, it’s another song about animals and their many sounds (like Old Macdonald, When Ducks Get Up in the Morning, I Love My Rooster, or Little Cat). There sure seem to be a lot of these around, and they’re mostly about farms. Of course, you can switch things up to sing about animals in other places (ie Grandpa’s beach, Grandpa’s forest, Grandpa’s desert). You can listen to Grandpa’s Farm via KCLS.

Going for a Walk is based on a song my colleague Marilyn wrote to promote BC Summer Reading Club, the province-wide reading program here in British Columbia. I added a few more verses to explain SRC when I promote it at elementary schools this month. So far the kids think it’s funny. I tell them that I can’t remember how SRC works, but I have a song to remind me, and then I stop between each verse, “remembering” more details to share with them. If you repeat “going for a walk” instead of “walking on the wild side,” in the first verse and tweak the prize line as appropriate, then you could probably use this with similar reading incentives in your own geographic area.


Down on Grandpa’s Farm
C
We're on our way, we're on our way
                        G7
We're on our way to Grandpa's farm


We're on our way, we're on our way
                         C
On our way to Grandpa's farm

C                                  G7          C
Down on Grandpa's farm there is a wooly white sheep
                                   G7         C
Down on Grandpa's farm there is a wooly white sheep
                                  G7
The sheep, it makes a sound like this, Baa baa
                                 C
The sheep, it makes a sound like this, Baa baa

(Repeat Chorus)

Verses
Grandpa's farm: Farm animal names and sounds
Grandpa's beach: Ocean animal names and sounds
Grandpa's woods: Forest animal names and sounds



Going for a Walk
(for BC Summer Reading Club 2017)
C
Going for a walk, going for a walk
                    G7

Going for a walk today

We're walking on the wild side
                  C

At our local library

C
Going to get some books, going to get some books
                           G7
Going to get some books today

And magazines and comics
                  C
At our local library

C
Going to play some games, going to play some games
                            G7
Going to play some games today

And maybe even win a prize
                  C
At our local library

C
Going to read a bit, going to read a bit
                    G7
Read a little every day

So I can win a medal
                   C
From my local library

Repeat 1st verse