Toddler Songs & Rhymes

I use many of the same songs and rhymes each week for toddler storytimes.  This allows toddlers to feel relaxed and comfortable at the beginning of the program because they are doing things that they know.  Not only do young children love repeating favorite songs and rhymes, but repetition promotes cognitive development as well!

I typically choose 2-3 of these rhymes/songs and use them after my Opening Song each week during a storytime season.  See my Opening & Closing Songs page for Opening and Closing songs.

Open Shut Them // Two Little Blackbirds // The Grand Old Duke of York // Two Little Feet Go Tap // If You’re Happy and You Know It // If You’re Happy: Emotion Version // If You’re Happy: Action Version // If You’re Happy: Jungle Version // If You’re Happy: Halloween Version

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OPEN SHUT THEM

Open shut them, open shut them
Give a little clap, clap, clap
Open shut them, open shut them
Put them in your lap
Creep them, creep them
Creep them, creep them
Right up to your chin
Open up your little mouth
But do not let them in!

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TWO LITTLE BLACKBIRDS
(I use finger puppets that I purchased from Artfelt)


Two little blackbirds sitting on a hill
One named Jack, one named Jill
Fly away Jack
Fly away Jill
Come back Jack, come back Jill *kiss* muah!

Two little blackbirds sitting on a cloud
One named Soft, one named Loud
Fly away Soft
Fly away Loud
Come back Soft, come back Loud *kiss* muah!
This is another one that has a multitude of variations. This file is from Artfelt and includes a variety of ways to use 2 little blackbirds to teach opposites.

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THE GRAND OLD DUKE OF YORK
A great one to get the kiddos moving before sitting down to your first book. Repeat this about 3 times, each time getting progressively faster. With little ones, you can have parents march their fingers up and down their child’s arm, or they can bounce them on their knees.


The grand old duke of York (start sitting down)
He had 10,000 men
First he marched them UP the hill (stand up)
Then he marched them DOWN again (crouch down)
And when you’re UP you’re up (stand up)
And when you’re DOWN you’re down (crouch down)
And when you’re only half-way UP (crouch half-way)
You’re neither UP nor DOWN (stand up then sit down)

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TWO LITTLE FEET GO TAP
Two little feet go tap, tap, tap,   (tap feet)
Two little hands go clap, clap, clap.  (clap hands)
A quick little leap up from my chair,   (stand up)
Two little arms reach high in the air.   (stretch arms)
Two little feet go jump, jump, jump,   (jump)
Two little fists go thump, thump, thump.   (pound fists)
One little body goes round and round,   (twirl around)
And one little child sits quietly down.   (sit down)

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IF YOU’RE HAPPY AND YOU KNOW IT

Emotion version
If You’re Happy is great for helping young learners express emotions.  I use “emotion faces” to add a visual for the children.  They are very easy to make at home: First cut circles out of different colored paper and draw a simple emotion face on each.  Then glue circles to jumbo Popsicle sticks to make them easy for children to hold.  Sing verses of the song that match your faces:


If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands.
If you’re surprised and you know if say “Oh my!”
If you’re sad and you know it rub your eyes “Boo hoo”
If you’re scared and you know it shiver and shake.
If you’re sleepy and you know it close your eyes.
If you’re angry and you know it stomp your feet.
And always make sure end up with “happy” again.

Action Version:
If you’re happy and you know it Clap your hands……
If you’re happy and you know it Jump up and down….
If you’re happy and you know it Stomp your feet…….
If you’re happy and you know it Shout Hooray!……

This song is quite a chameleon, it’s great for tailoring to the theme of your storytime as well.

Jungle Version: If you’re an elephant and you know it, STOMP your feet
If you’re a monkey and you know it, JUMP up and down (ooh ooh aah aah)
If you’re a crocodile and you know it, SNAP your jaws (motion with arms)
If you’re a lion and you know it, give a ROAR!

Halloween Version:
If you’re a ghost and you know it, just say BOO!
If you’re a black cat and you know it, say MEOW……
If you’re a skeleton and you know it, Shake your bones……
If you love Halloween and you know it, clap your hands…….

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“Children learn by repetition. Infants and young children have the most active brains. The more stimulation they receive from their environment-what they see, hear, touch, taste, and smell-the more connections are made between brain cells. After a while there are so many connections that the ones that are not used are pruned. It is repetition that keeps these connections between brain cells and makes them strong. So at home or in the car, do these rhymes and songs over and over again.” -Sarah Ghoting, early literacy expert

15 thoughts on “Toddler Songs & Rhymes

  1. I am trying to conduct a Dragon themed storytime as well, but do not have access to the book by Carol Elaine “SUPER STORYTELLING.” Can anyone send me the whole rhyme for Ten Dizzy Dragons by email?

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      • I do the the arm motions, such as ” say it high!” up on my toes and “say it low “down the floor and say it fast and slow”. I also keep them dancing throughout the whole song. It was hard to ge”t them to dance at first but now they know the drill and dance the whole song!

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  2. Thank you for this! May I ask what program do you use to record these songs here? I would love to make recordings like this of the songs I teach. thanks for your help! Tara

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    • Tara, Sorry for taking so long to respond! I just use Sounder Recorder which comes with Windows software, and a headset with a microphone (that I use for webinars.) Nothing fancy!

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