Rhymes for Toddlers

I use many of the same songs and rhymes each week for toddler storytimes.  I typically choose 2-3 of the rhymes/songs listed below and use them after my Opening Song each week.  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 always start this one by asking everyone to get out both of their hands, and give them a couple of squeezes to warm them up.  Open and shut your hands a few times, and then start the rhyme…

Open shut them, open shut them (open and shut both hands)
Give a little clap, clap, clap (clap hands three times)
Open shut them, open shut them (open and shut both hands)
Put them in your lap (lay hands flat on your legs)
Creep them, creep them (creep them up legs, body, all the way up to chin)
Creep them, creep them
Right up to your chin
Open up your little mouth (open mouth and hold fingers outside of mouth)
But do not let them in! (shake finger ‘no’)


Finger puppets were purchased from Artfelt.

I like to start this rhyme by telling everyone that they will need one (hold up one pointer finger)…and two (hold up other pointer finger) fingers for this rhyme.  Ready? ….

Two little blackbirds sitting on a hill (hold up two pointer fingers)
One named Jack, (hold out right pointer finger)
And one named Jill. (hold out left pointer finger)
Fly away Jack. (place right hand behind back)
Fly away Jill. (place left hand behind back)
Come back Jack, (bring right pointer back out)
Come back Jill.  (bring left pointer back out)
*kiss* muah! (have fingers “kiss”)

This rhyme has a multitude of variations. If you visit Artfelt’s site, they have a ‘free rhymes’ pdf on the two little blackbirds page that has 19 more ways to use this rhyme to teach opposites!  Here’s one of my favorites:

Two little blackbirds sitting on a cloud
One named Soft,
And one named Loud.
Fly away Soft
Fly away Loud
Come back Soft,
Come back Loud.
*kiss* muah!

Here are some other variations that I’ve used:

Two Little Superheroes
Two Little Lovebirds
Two Little Brown Bears
Two Little Sharks
Two Little Black Bats

This is 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)


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)


If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.
If you’re happy and you know it, and you really want to show it,
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’!…

If You’re Happy and You Know It – with Feelings Faces
This song is great for helping young learners express emotions.  I use “feelings faces” to add a visual for the children.  I pull each face out, one at a time, and ask “Can you guess what they are feeling?”  Then we sing the corresponding verse.

I’ve made a printable for you (see link below.)  I would suggest printing it onto cardstock and/or laminating each one.  Then, I like to glue each face to a jumbo popsicle stick to make them easy to hold up for everyone to see.

Feelings Faces Printable

Scared, Happy, Sad, Angry, Surprised, and Silly

 Click to Download Feelings Faces Printable (pdf)

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands…
If you’re surprised and you know it, 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 angry and you know it, stomp your feet…
If you’re silly and you know it, make a funny face…

I always end with a “happy” verse again!

If You’re Happy and You Know It – 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!…

If You’re Happy and You Know It – 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…


Before singing this one, tell everyone to hop into their pretend boats and get out their paddles.  Are you ready to row?

This is also an especially fun song if you use a stretchy band.  Have everyone sit in a circle and hold onto the band.  Then row as you sing.  On the next verse, row backwards!

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
Life is but a dream

Row, row, row your boat
Gently to the shore.
If you see a lion,
Don’t forget to ROAR!

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream.
If you see a crocodile,
Don’t forget to SCREAM!

“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.”  -Saroj Ghoting, early literacy expert

16 thoughts on “Rhymes for Toddlers

  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?


      • 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!


  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


    • 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!


  3. I’m a little late to the party here. I would love to get the words to *Ten Dizzy Dragons* also! I’d like to do a dragon storytime soon. could someone send them to me also?



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