Rainbow Songs

My city celebrates Pride mid-summer, so all the rainbow (and love and family) songs I know are dancing through my mind.  Much credit for this goes to the amazing storytimers I work with who are so generous in sharing their knowledge and creativity. Thank you Suzy for the multicolour sheep idea, Jamie for inventing the rainbow verse in Rain is Falling Down, and Lindsey for introducing Colours Over You and Rainbow Dancers.

Rainbow Dancers is from Dr. Pam Schiller’s 2006 album Start Smart Songs for 1s 2s and 3s, and you can listen to a clip here. I think this song uses the tune of The Paw Paw Patch, but you can also chant it as per Jbrary. I’m posting a shortened version with just a few verses. For more directions and movements to try at your program see the lyrics at Storytime ABCs.

I usually sing Rain is Falling Down a capella so I can lead the hand gestures, but I’ve fumbled a couple chords that would work if you feel like strumming along. For this post, links in the song titles take you to Jbrary versions of the songs.

Rain is Falling Down
C                    (stop)

Rain is falling down. Splash!
C                    (stop)
Rain is falling down. Splash!
Pitter patter, pitter patter
C                    (stop)
Rain is falling down. Splash!

Sun is peeking out. Peek!...
Peeking here, peeking there...

Rainbows everywhere. Wow!...
Rainbows here, rainbows there...

Colours Over You
Tune: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
C                  F          C

Red and green and yellow and blue
F              C       G7   C

These are the colours over you
C            F      C            G7

Red like an apple, green like a tree
C                F       C            G7

Yellow like the sun and blue like the sea
C                  F         C

Red and green and yellow and blue
F              C       G7   C

These are the colours over you

Rainbow Dancers
Tune: Paw Paw Patch
Rainbow dancers let’s get ready
Hold your scarves nice and steady
You’ll hear the colours of the rainbow
G7               C         (stop)
Listen for your time to go

Shake red…
Shake orange…
Shake yellow…
Shake green…
Shake blue…
Shake purple…

Rainbow dancers, dance around
Scarves swirl up and down
Overhead and on the ground
G7              C
Rainbows flying all around

Make a Rainbow
Tune: Skip to My Lou

Take a strawberry, put it in a pot
Stir it, stir it, stir it a lot
Take it out and what'll it be?
G7                    C
The prettiest red you ever did see

Other food felts/colours until the rainbow or flag is complete

Felt Story Extensions
I made arc and flag rainbows for Make a Rainbow so I could use this set in different ways, and I paired it with the rainbow foods I made for Aiken Drum. Most versions of this story use fruits for all the colours.

If your preschoolers are as rainbow-enthralled as mine, consider enhancing familiar colour-themed songs and rhymes with bonus felts. I haven’t made my Little Mouse a rainbow house yet, but here are my felts for Take Me for a Ride in your Rainbow Car and Baa Baa Rainbow Sheep.


Gilly Gilly Good Morning

This happy little morning song would be a great storytime opener, and my thanks to Jbrary for introducing me to it. Gilly Gilly Good Morning is cited as a traditional American tune in the sources I’ve found, but if you come across a credit for it, please let me know.

I prefer singing this song G/D, but it works with C/G7 or D/A7 too. If you’d like to play a slightly richer sound, Dany Rosevear at Singing Games for Children has a three chord version for you.

Gilly Gilly Good Morning
Gilly gilly gilly good morning
      D             G
Good morning, good morning
Gilly gilly gilly good morning
      D         G
Good morning to you


Mini mack mini mack mini mini mini mack
G                         D
Mini mack mini mack mini morning
Mini mack mini mack mini mini mini mack
D                         G
Mini mack mini mack mini morning

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

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