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

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

We're on our way, we're on our way
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
The sheep, it makes a sound like this, Baa baa
The sheep, it makes a sound like this, Baa baa

(Repeat Chorus)

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)
Going for a walk, going for a walk

Going for a walk today

We're walking on the wild side

At our local library

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

And magazines and comics
At our local library

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

And maybe even win a prize
At our local library

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

So I can win a medal
From my local library

Repeat 1st verse

Clementine variations

I wouldn’t consider Oh My Darling, Clementine to be a storytime song, but it is definitely a popular tune for storytime variations. My favourite of this set is a song I learned as Picked an Apple from KCLS and Picked a Strawberry from my colleague Lindsey. It’s perfect for spurring discussion and audience participation, particularly when it’s growing season and we can talk about our gardens or local farms.

I’ve previously posted See You Later Alligator to the tune of Happy Birthday. Clementine is an alternative tune to match the same words.

Picked an Apple

Picked an Apple

Picked an apple, picked an apple

That was growing in the sun

Then I washed it, and I ate it
        C7             F

Then I picked another one

Any fruit or vegetable (ask the kids for suggestions)


I'm an airplane, I'm an airplane

Flying up into the sky

Flying higher, flying higher
      C7                  F

As I watch the clouds go by

I'm an airplane, I'm an airplane
See me flying all around

Flying lower, flying lower
        C7               F

Till I land down on the ground

See You Later, Alligator

See you later, alligator

In a while, crocodile

Give a hug, ladybug
        C7         F

Blow a kiss, jellyfish

Take care, polar bear

Out the door, dinosaur

See you soon, big baboon
         C7          F

Wave goodbye, butterfly

What’s the Weather?

What’s the weather, what’s the weather

What’s the weather, everyone?

Is it windy, is it cloudy
          C7                F

Is there rain, or is there sun?

Other Variations Include
Found a Peanut
There are Seven Days in a Week

Felt Story Extensions
Any set of weather-related felts or images would nicely supplement What’s the Weather.

I made a handful of popular fruits to accompany Picked an Apple, and I’d like to add a few silly options like ice cream and teddy bears to make the kids howl with joyful outrage.  Preschoolers are excellent at shouting out suggestions without much assistance, but toddlers may not have the vocabulary yet to participate without visual cues to assist them.  I made this set primarily for them.

For more felt-related storytime ideas, see this week’s Flannel Friday, hosted by Shawn at Read, Rhyme & Sing.

When Ducks Get Up in the Morning

Tired of Old Macdonald? Try this instead.  Get creative, and your toddlers can practise sounds from any creature with a recognizable sound. There’s no need to stick to those same old farm animals. For added participation, the Loudest Librarian suggests asking the audience what to say when”kids get up in the morning.”

These chords come from the Loudest Librarian. To play a 3 chord version with more transitions see Nancy Stewart’s page. Don’t know what it sounds like? Listen to Nancy Stewart, Jbrary or some KCLS librarians.

When Ducks Get Up in the Morning
C                                     G7              C

When ducks get up in the morning they always say good day
G7              C

When ducks get up in the morning they always say good day
                                          G7               C

They say, "Quack quack quack quack," and that is what they say
                                          G7                C

They say, "Quack quack quack quack," and that is what they say

Other animals/sounds...

Hickety Pickety Bumblebee

Hickety Pickety Bumblebee is my favourite name-sharing tune. I love the way the syllables roll off my tongue, and how I can’t help but clap a beat.

Name songs work as a welcome, a chance for children to practice speaking, and an aid to some of the relationship and community building that caregivers do when storytime is over. When my audience is large, I don’t use them, as toddler attention spans only last so long, but with a small group, they’re magic.

This particular song has some exciting early literacy extensions, where you encourage the kids to break down the syllables and repeat the name in a variety of ways. See Jbrary for an example of this. I learned a different way to sing it from my colleague Saara, which sounds a little more like this, and is smoother if you’re playing an instrument.

Hickety Pickety Bumblebee

Hickety pickety bumblebee

Won't you say you name for me

Charlie... Charlie...
G7               C

What a beautiful name

Little Cat

My own preschooler adores this song so I’ve been singing it a lot at home. Little Cat is by children’s musican Nancy Stewart, and I found it via KCLS. Nancy kindly provides the chords on her site, and I’ve transposed and simplified just a touch. If you incorporate American Sign Language in your storytimes, see Nancy’s descriptions of the signs (or watch the King County video for an example).

Little Cat
        C    G7            C    G7

Little cat (meow), little cat (meow)
           C          G7           C
There’s a little cat walking all around
              G7           C    G7

Little cat (meow), little cat (meow)
            C        G7            C

There’s a little cat walking all around

Other animals...