Music Time for Toddlers

Tips and songs for doing a simple toddler music time

A friend of mine hosts a little weekly toddler music group at her home, and it’s pretty much the highlight of Ella’s week. She spends the whole car ride over shouting, “MUSIC!” at the top of her lungs.

After attending this toddler music time for six months or so, I realized that I could use many of the same songs (and a few of my own favorites) to burn through some of that late afternoon time when we both get antsy and it’s just too hot to go outside.

This has become Ella’s favorite home activity, and she drags out a large quilt for us to sit on and anxiously requests particular songs.

I generally just pull the songs up on YouTube (and I’ve linked to them below) and have them play while we do the actions or use some simple props. Some of these songs were ones I’ve known before and others are ones I’ve learned from my friend and come to love.

Tips and songs for doing a simple toddler music time
  1. Shake My Sillies Out – I remember being a five-year-old bouncing on our tiny indoor trampoline to this song. It’s a great active song to start out with.
  2. Slippery Fish – I love this little song and watching Ella make an octopus with her hands is pretty much the most darling thing ever.
  3. I Love Colors – I give Ella a set of Uno cards (blue, red, yellow, and green) and we march around holding them and putting the appropriate color on top as we sing that verse. My friend uses paint chips on a metal ring.
  4. Willoughby, Wallaby Woo – We have a stuffed elephant that Ella carries around and places on our heads during this song. I sing our names loudly over the music and then (because there are only two of us), I sing things like “Willoughby Wallaby Woor, an elephant sat on the floor” and so on with objects (bench, chair, shelf, blanket) around our living room.
  5. Count Your Fingers – A nice sitting on the floor song.
  6. The Noble Duke of York – I set Ella on my knees and lift her up when the song says “up” and “down” when it says THAT. Count it as exercise.
  7. Open Shut Them – I love the huge mouth Ella makes when we get to the “open wide your little mouth, but do not let them in” part.
  8. Old McDonald – We have a little barn with animals and we take them all out and put them back in the barn one at a time as we sing about that animal.
  9. Apples and Bananas – I give her a banana and an apple and she holds up the appropriate one. I lay on the floor.
  10. Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes – Time to get off the floor and pretend to have energy for one last song. You all know this one, right?
Tips and songs for doing a simple toddler music time

And if you have songs your child loves to sing along to, please share! I’m always looking to expand my repertoire. Can’t let Ella think I’m getting old and boring.

Tips and songs for doing a simple toddler music time

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  1. We love singing time around these parts, too, but I hadn't heard several of those – can't wait to try them. Thanks for compiling the list!

    Nat's current obsessions are some of the Nursery favorites – Itsy Bitsy Spider, The Wise Man Built His House Upon a Rock (he especially loves doing the rock action), and Book of Mormon Stories.

  2. So fun! We listen to Pandora Toddler Radio and have borrowed a few fun CD's from the library, but I haven't ever planned music time like this. Jilly would love it. Our very favorite song right now is Wheels on the Bus. We like making up verses for different people we know (latest is dentists on the bus say brush your teeth for her dentist grandpa)

  3. We listened to A LOT of Raffi when my kids were younger. To this day if Joshua Giraffe shows up on one of our own playlists, all three kids will sing along! It is priceless.

  4. Fun post! My 2 year old and I like "The Princess Pat" (it's a camp song and has actions that go with it.) Baby Balooga is also a fun one.

  5. A friend who teaches our little music class introduced us to some great new songs. We especially love the Laurie Berkner Band. She has lots of youtube videos, so you can easily search for her. Our favorites are We Are The Dinosaurs, Let's Go Swimming (probably my favorite), There's a Little Wheel A-Turning in my Heart (so pretty and catchy), The Little Red Caboose, and Victor Vito.

    They might be a little old for Ella, but my 2 year old can do all the actions and knows most of the words.

  6. There are so many. Where to start? I'm a Little Teapot, Garden Song, I Bought Me a Cat (Barnyard Song). We sang to Wee Sing (we had several tapes), Disney songs, old fashioned ones that my grandmother taught me, and Charlotte Diamond's 24 Carrot Diamond that was just about our favorite (link below or some of her songs are on youtube). Brings back wonderful memories.

    For ideas: (You can listen to samples.)

  7. I'll be honest nursery songs make me want to puke. I love dance music though and have always had a great time dancing and singing around the house to my current favs with my kids. Really what is cuter then a 3 year old singing "Party rocker in the house tonight…"

    You should check out Just Dance Kids on YouTube. My girls go crazy for Jump Up and Despicable Me:

  8. your post is so cute, thank you so much for participating! some of those songs are our favorites, too! but there are a few ones – think we have to download them! thank you!

  9. This is a great post. Thanks for the ideas.

    I'll second the Laurie Berkner Band recommendation. Every song is great on this album:

    For the "I Know a Chicken Song" I made some egg shakers with Easter eggs, rice, and tape (so they won't pop open). Not too classy, but I had all of that stuff in the house.

    We also love SteveSongs.

    Joe Scruggs is great too. We used to listen to him as kids, and my son likes him too. There are lots of danceable songs on this album.

    The "Very Simple Dance to Do" on this Sesame Street album has really great actions. I love the rest of the album too.

    I'm going to try out some of your music activities. Thanks for making the itunes playlist.

  10. what a great list you've assembled! and thank you for the easy links – I can't wait to get home and do some singing time.

  11. free music Thanks for the nice blog. It was very useful for me. I'm happy I found this blog. Thank you for sharing with us,I too always learn something new from your post.

  12. My kids LOVE “A Very Simple Dance,” which is an old Sesame Street song we found on Amazon Prime music. It’s adorable. Also, if you’ve never done Robert Preston’s “Chicken Fat” exercise song with your kids, you haven’t lived. It was a staple in my house growing up and my kids love it as much as I did. Readily available on YouTube.

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