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.


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What Are You Wearing?
C                      F

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

Verses

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?
                      F
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

Verses

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

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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
                         C
Loo la la la, loo la la, loo la la lay
                     F 

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

Verses
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...

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

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

Won’t You Be My Neighbor

The theme song to Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood was written by Fred Rogers in 1967. For a refresher on the tune, or a dose of sweet nostalgia, watch this cool video of Mr. Rogers singing it through the decades. 

PBS has kindly shared the lyrics and sheet music to the song, but they’re far more sophisticated than anything I’d play at storytime. I’ve significantly simplified the chords into a “good enough” 3-chord rendition to make this more playable to less experienced musicians.

I personally find it easier to sing this in the key of G (use chords G/C/D7 instead of C/F/G7).  If you are an advanced player, you may also like to try Dr. Uke’s version.  

Simplified chords to Won’t You Be My Neighbor were requested by a reader, who had noted the difficulty of most versions available online.


Won’t You Be My Neighbor
C

It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood
  F

A beautiful day for a neighbor
C                            G7
Would you be mine? Could you be mine?

[For verse 2 lyrics: See PBS]

     F                                          G7
I've always wanted to have a neighbor just like you
                                                  F
I've always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you

C                              F         C
So let's make the most of this beautiful day
                        F             G7
Since we're together we might as well say
C                   F
Would you be mine? Could you be mine?
G7               C
Won't you be my neighbor?
C                 F
Won't you please? Won't you please?
G7                      C
Please won't you be my neighbor? 


Wake Up

After a winter of rain clouds in my lovely gray city, I’m happy to wake up to the extra light of a spring morning. Even if I need to get up an hour earlier. This Woody Guthrie song is for all of us in daylight savings zones who may be yawning a little more this week.

For the full lyrics, head over to the official Guthrie site. And to hear it, check out the albums Nursery Days or 20 Grow Big Songs, or listen to a clip via Smithsonian Folkways.


Wake Up
C
Wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up
                                G7
Wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up
     C                          F

Wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up
     C        G7                C

Wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up

C
Open eyes, open eyes, open eyes, open eyes
                                      G7
Open eyes, open eyes, open eyes, open eyes
     C                          F

Wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up
     C           G7                    C

Open eyes, open eyes, open eyes, open eyes


Verses
Stretch arms...
Stretch feet...
Stretch hands and toes...