Aiken Drum (and variations)

This traditional song is so adaptable and participatory that unless you’re working with a felt story, you probably sing it differently every time. It’s delightfully fun to hear the children’s suggestions for building Aiken Drum. And if you give each child a turn, they’ll have the opportunity to verbalize their thoughts, contribute to the narrative, and practice turn-taking and self-regulation.

I’d only ever sung this about food, but I’ve just made my own felt version to expand discussion to shapes and colours as well. Heather McNeil, in Read, Rhyme and Romp also suggests building Aiken Drum from parts of animals or vehicles.

My chords are transposed from the version on Traditional Music. You can simplify further by replacing the F chords with G7, as Storytime Songs does.

Aiken Drum Food
Aiken Drum
      C               F            C            G7

There was a man lived in the moon, in the moon, in the moon
      C               F                   C        G7    C

There was a man lived in the moon and his name was Aiken Drum
       C              F        C        G7

And he played upon a ladle, a ladle, a ladle
    C             F             C       G7    C

He played upon a ladle and his name was Aiken Drum

Verses
His eyes were made of blueberries...
His nose was made of a grape...
His mouth was made of watermelon...
His ears were made of cheese...
His earrings were made of green peppers...
His hair was made of strawberries...
His neck was made of a cracker...



Flip Flap Jack
      C         F             C             G7

There was a man made of food, made of food, made of food
      C         F                    C       G7         C

There was a man made of food and his name was Flip Flap Jack
        C               F          C          G7

And he danced upon the table, the table, the table
    C               F             C       G7         C

He danced upon the table and his name was Flip Flap Jack

Verses
His head was made of a pancake...
His hair was made of whipped cream...
His eyes were made of eggs...
His body was made of a waffle...
His arms were two bananas...
His legs were strips of bacon...



Other Variations Include
Aiken Drum (Spanish Version)
Musical Instruments
Animals, Shapes, Vehicles, etc

Aiken Drum Shapes

Felt Story Extension
I made two Aiken Drum felts from one template, but they could be made reversible if painted lightly. One tells the traditional food theme, while the other simply focuses on shapes and colours. I cut two of each shape to ensure flexibility, allowing any piece to represent any body part. Fewer shapes/foods will suffice, but I like the variation, and the creativity that it inspires.

For more great felt storytelling ideas, see this week’s Flannel Friday, hosted by Anne at So Tomorrow.

You’ll Sing a Song and I’ll Sing a Song

My wonderful colleague Els reintroduced me to this classic Ella Jenkins song.  It’s quick to learn, participatory, highly adaptable and very catchy. Perfect for storytime. You can listen to a sample of it here. Or check your library collections. Everyone should have some Ella Jenkins; she’s an institution.

You can sing this as an action song, a daily activity song, an opening/closing song, or whatever else you might come up with.

Els worked out these chords in C. I’m including a 3-chord F version as well for those (like me) whose vocal range is reduced by endless winter colds. It sounds better with that 4th chord, but I can’t bear to fumble with a B during storytime.


You’ll Sing a Song and I’ll Sing a Song (C)
C

You'll sing a song
    Am

And I'll sing a song
    F                   G7

And we'll sing a song together
C
You'll sing a song
    Am
And I'll sing a song
   G7              C
In warm or wintry weather



You’ll Sing a Song and I’ll Sing a Song (F)
F

You'll sing a song
    Dm

And I'll sing a song
    F                   C7

And we'll sing a song together
F
You'll sing a song
    Dm
And I'll sing a song
   C7             F
In warm or wintry weather


Variations Include:
Actions: You dance around… / You wave your scarf…
Babytime: You peek-a-boo… / You roll your hands…
Daily Activities: You wash your hands… / You put on socks…
Musical: You hum along… / You snap your fingers…
Opening/Closing: You say hello… / You wave goodbye…

Douglas Mountain

This winter gem is known to many of us from Raffi’s Christmas Album, though he credits the song to Arnold Sundgaard and Alec Wilder. Additional verses have been recorded in the Rise Up Singing Songbook. If your home is close to mountains, you might like to replace “Douglas” mountain with the local names as storytimers in my library system do.

This is a simplified version of the chords that my colleague Elizabeth shared with me. Most versions online use five chords, which gives the song a richer sound but requires the dreaded E chord. My voice complains if I try to sing too high, so I’m also including the version in F. Make sure to practice transitioning in and out of the G minor chord if you try this one in storytime.


Douglas Mountain (C)
C                       G       C

Snows are a falling on Douglas Mountain
Dm          [G]         C

Snows are a falling so deep
Dm          [G]         C

Snows are a falling on Douglas Mountain
Dm              [G]       C

Putting all the bears to sleep
G                     C

Putting the bears to sleep


Douglas Mountain (F)
F                       C       F

Snows are a falling on Douglas Mountain
Gm           [C]        F

Snows are a falling so deep
Gm           [C]        F

Snows are a falling on Douglas Mountain
Gm              [C]       F

Putting all the bears to sleep
C                     F

Putting the bears to sleep

Three Little Birds

I read Cedella Marley’s Every Little Thing at storytime when I want a bright, warm, it’s-okay-to-make-mistakes book that the caregivers can sing along with. It’s a fantastic adaptation/extension of her father Bob Marley’s song Three Little Birds, and I love how it illustrates the reassurance and support that are so important for growing strong healthy little humans.

I haven’t tried playing Marley’s original song in storytime yet, but I think I’ll incorporate it into my Winter session, the week after we read the book together. The key of D is easiest for my voice for this song, but you can also play it in A or C.


Three Little Birds
       D
Don’t worry about a thing
      G                                D
Cause every little thing is gonna be alright
D
Don’t worry about a thing
       G                               D
Cause every little thing is gonna be alright

D                                     A

Rise up this morning, smile with the rising sun
D                               G
Three little birds pitch by my doorstep
         D                       A
Singing sweet songs of melodies pure and true
          G                     D

Singing, this is my message to you...
(Repeat)

On the Day You Were Born

I learned this sweet baby-calming song from my colleague Kate during a meeting of children’s librarians. She made quite an impression on us. The Jbrary duo recorded the song, and I promised the musicians among our team that I’d figure out the chords. Have a listen to Dana and Lindsey.

The original is by Cathy Bollinger, from her 2005 album Toddlin Tunes, but the simplified storytime version sounds quite a bit different, and only covers the first verse.


On the Day You Were Born
C                                   F                  C

On the day you were born, I felt my heart get a little bigger
                                   G7
On the day you were born I felt it swell, swell, swell
       C                           F                   C

On the day you were born I felt my heart give a little giggle
                    G7          C

And I knew it would be a better world

Spider-Man

Superheroes are popular year-round, but it’s especially fun to sing about people in costumes in October.

We sang the simplified version of Spider-Man at a family singalong at my branch (all three verses, but no bridge), and it was so fun and nostalgic that more adults joined in than for any other song. If you plan to sing beyond the first verse, I encourage you to provide the lyrics to your audience, as a lot of folks only remember the beginning.

This song was written by Paul Francis Webster and Robert Harris for the 1967 Spider-Man TV show. To try alternate chords, or to read the full lyrics see Ukulele-Tabs (Dm/Gm/A7), Ukulele Boogaloo (Em/Am/B7), or Ultimate-Guitar (C/F/G7).


Spider-Man
G

Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can
C

Spins a web, any size
G
Catches thieves just like flies
      D    C                    G

Look out! Here comes the Spider-Man


G
Is he strong? Listen, bud. He's got radioactive blood
C

Can he swing from a thread?
G

Take a look overhead
      D      C                    G

Hey there! There goes the Spider-Man

More Halloween Songs

Last year I collected a great big round up of slightly spooky songs, and I’ve come across a few more fun ones that I wanted to share.

For all these songs, you can click the song titles to see my sources. I altered the first song a little (green ghosts didn’t match my felts, and kids seem more rambunctious than delicious). Scroll down to the bottom for more about the felts.


5-grey-and-spooky-ghosts
Five Grey and Spooky Ghosts
Tune: Five Green and Speckled Frogs
G

Five grey and spooky ghosts
C

Doing what they love most
G                              D

Scaring some most rambunctious kids (Boo! Boo!)
G

One flew into the sky
C

Where it was nice and dry
G              D                G

Now there are four grey spooky ghosts (Boo! Boo!)

4... 3... 2... 1...


Flap Flap Flap Little Bats
Tune: Ten Little…
C

Flap, flap, flap little bats
G7

Flap, flap, flap little bats
C

Flap, flap, flap little bats
G7           C  

Early in the evening

Verses
Dance...
Wiggle...
Soar...
Sleep... early in the morning



haunted-barn
Old MacDonald Had a Haunted House
Tune: Old MacDonald
C                   F       C              G7      C

Old MacDonald had a haunted house, E - I - E - I - Boo!
                        F     C            G7      C

And in that house there was a bat, E - I - E - I - Boo!
C

With a flap flap here, and a flap flap there
C

Here a flap, there a flap, everywhere a flap flap
                    F       C              G7      C

Old MacDonald had a haunted house, E - I - E - I - Boo!

Verses
Owl... hoot...
Mouse... squeak...
Spider... creep...
Cat... meow...
Ghost... boo...



The Spooky Pokey
Tune: The Hokey Pokey
              C

You put your foot bones in, you take your foot bones out
                                                    G7

You put your foot bones in, and you shake them all about
G7

You do the spooky pokey, and you turn yourself around
                      C

That’s what it’s all about!

Verses
Hand bones...
Funny bone (elbow)...
Back bones...
Neck bones...
Skeleton...



Felt Story Extensions
The ghost felts are borrowed from my Ten Little Ghosts set, while Old MacDonald is an extension of the Old MacDonald guessing game. Owl, bat, and mouse templates are from Pattern Universe. I’d like to make a set of haunted houses as well, but for now we’ll sing it as “haunted barn.”

You can also use the barn/animal set with the rhyme, “Little ghost playing hide and seek… Are you in the orange barn? Let’s take a peek.”

For more Halloween felt ideas, check out this week’s Flannel Friday round-up over at Thrive After Three.