Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Hot summer days are here! Hooray!

Though we're stuck in the city, we would love to be at the beach- so we've been singing I do like to be beside the seaside and sorting through boxes of shells. 

I do like to be beside the seaside
I do like to be beside the sea
I do like to stroll along the prom, prom, prom
Where the brass band plays tiddly-om-pom-pom
Just let me be beside the seaside
I'll be beside myself with glee
And there's lots of girls besides 
That I'd like to be beside
Beside the seaside, beside the sea

It would sound great on the ukelele, sung with a cheeky wink at the last few lines!

Try this clip of Basil Rathbone for size.....

I've also been trying to learn the sea shells tonguetwister......

She sells sea shells on the sea shore
The shells that she sells are sea shells I'm sure
So if she sells shells on the sea shore
I'm sure she sells seashore shells

... but even just writing it out gets my brain all twisted! I want to do it at Rhymetime, but just can't get it straight. At least it makes my kids laugh!

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Everything is growing apace in our garden. All the seeds that the children helped me plant have germinated and there are so many little shoots, leaves and  wisps of green. It's such a satisfying time, when you see signs of growth and life and energy, before the slugs feast on baby plants!

Our favourite seedlings have been the pumpkins. In Milly-Molly-Mandy this is called the surprise plant- and it does grow amazingly quickly. It's perfect for little people who check the pots every day for signs of growth.

The cherry stone rhyme is ideal for this time of year..... 

I had a little cherry stone (finger and thumb as if holding a stone)
I put it in the ground (putting stone onto palm of other hand)
Next time I came to look
A little shoot I found ( make a circle with thumb and forefinger of one hand and push two fingers of the other hand through it, like a shoot)

It grew and grew 
Into a great big tree (fingers grow up and branch out above head, like a tree)
And then I picked the cherries (pretend to pick cherries from above)
And ate them for my tea (...and eat them!)

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Postcode Carmen

All my singing with babies and toddlers is based on the idea that music is fun, pleasurable and comforting. I hate the idea that we should be using every opportunity to teach our children something. But on the other hand... singing is a great way to learn things that you might otherwise have to just learn by rote. As a little girl I learnt my postcode by singing it to the opening phrase from Habanera, Carmen. This might sound a little precocious but try it- it works really well! If opera's not your thing, you might be seduced by this fantastic Sesame Street video!

Sesame Street was, of course, another great example of using music to teach all kinds of things- if you're a child of the seventies (like me!) you might remember this pinball counting song too. Oh happy days! 

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Long nights

After a few long and broken nights, I've been running through some lullabies. I've got a few I like- but it needs the right combination of tune and lyrics to work as a lullaby. Rock around the clock, for example, has great words (sing it through and you'll see what I mean) but is hard to sing soothingly. 

Amazing Grace is such a beautiful tune, but since hearing Bee, age two, sing the line 'saved a wretch like me', I've felt uneasy about the lyrics. Of course, there are plenty of lyrics in other nursery rhymes and traditional tunes that aren't particularly child-friendly (mice having their tails cut off in Three Blind Mice, for example) and I'm ok with that, but I'm really not keen on a toddler referring to herself as a wretch! So I've been singing my own.... here they are.....

Lie down my child, it's time to sleep
It's dark and cold outside
Lie down my child, don't make a peep
Curl up and close your eyes

You're tired and sleepy, don't fuss now
You're fed and clean and warm,
You need to rest, and so do I
Tomorrow starts at dawn.

When I sang this to her, she would melt in my arms and just listen. A beautiful melody.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Beans in a pod

There were broad beans at the greengrocer's this morning. The children fell on them with delight and demanded we bought handfuls of them. Back at home, they pulled them apart and devoured the plump raw beans like sweeties! There were a few left, which we ate (cooked!) for lunch. 

Of course, we had to do the peas in a pod rhyme- adapted- and Pip-squeak clapped his hands at the end for the very first time! What a clever bean!
Five broad beans in a bean pod pressed
One grew, two grew, and so did all the rest.
They grew and grew and did not stop,
Until one day, the pod went POP!

Monday, 26 May 2008


With the rain pouring down outside, we're singing the wonderful chorus to the Flanders and Swann hippopotamus song...
 'Mud! mud! glorious mud! 
Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood, 
So follow me follow, 
Down to the hollow, 
And there let us wallow in glorious mud.' 

Written in the 50s, and still going strong. The lyrics to the whole song are here..... 

In the original, this bit is sung by an amorous hippopotamus to his 'fair hippopotomi maid', while she sits and combs her hair.  Perhaps we should act that out while we sing, but we just like to just stomp about while singing it really loudly. 

For a modern, adult version on the hippopotamus theme, I love Flight of the Conchords, with their geeky cool rap Hiphopopotamas vs. Rhymenoceros on YouTube. So good, but NOT suitable for kids!