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Folk Songs for Children

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Folk music are traditional songs that have been handed down from generation to generation. This type of music represents a country's heritage and is written, sung and played by musicians who are either trained professionally or not. Instruments commonly used in folk music include accordions, banjos and harmonicas. Composers like Percy Grainger, Zoltan Kodaly and Bela Bartok were avid collectors of folk songs.

Music education methods like Orff and Kodaly, use folk songs to teach important concepts, foster musicianship and respect of musical heritage. Here are several well-loved children's folk songs.

1. Aiken Drum (Traditional Scottish Song)

Lyrics (Excerpt):
Aiken Drum
There was a man lived in the moon,
Lived in the moon, lived in the moon
There was a man lived in the moon,
And his name was Aiken Drum.

Chorus
And he played upon a ladle,
a ladle, a ladle
And he played upon a ladle,
and his name was Aiken Drum.

Sheet Music

2. Alouette (1879)

French Lyrics (Excerpt):
Alouette, gentille Alouette
Alouette je te plumerai
Alouette, gentille Alouette
Alouette je te plumerai
Je te plumerai la tete
Je te plumerai la tete
Et la tte, et la tete
Alouette, Alouette
O-o-o-o-oh
Alouette, gentille Alouette
Alouette je te plumerai

English Translation (Excerpt):
Lark, nice (or lovely) Lark
Lark, I am going to pluck you
I am going to pluck your head,
I am going to pluck your head,
And the head, and the head,
O-o-o-o-oh

Sheet Music

3. A-Tisket A-Tasket (1879)

Lyrics (Excerpt):
A-tisket a-tasket
A green and yellow basket
I wrote a letter to my love
And on the way I dropped it

I dropped it, I dropped it
Yes, on the way I dropped it
A little girlie picked it up
And took it to the market

Sheet Music

4. Baa Baa Black Sheep (1765)

Lyrics (Excerpt):
Baa, baa, black sheep,
Have you any wool?
Yes sir, yes sir,
Three bags full.

One for the master,
One for the dame,
And one for the little boy
Who lives down the lane.

Sheet Music (PDF)

5. Frere Jacques (1811, Traditional French song)

French Lyrics:
Frère Jacques, Frère Jacques,
Dormez vous? Dormez vous?
Sonnez les matines, Sonnez les matines
Ding Ding Dong, Ding Ding Dong

English Lyrics:
Are you sleeping, are you sleeping?
Brother John, Brother John?
Morning bells are ringing,
morning bells are ringing
Ding Ding Dong, Ding Ding Dong.

Sheet Music

6. Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush (1857)

Lyrics (Excerpt):
Here we go round the mulberry bush
The mulberry bush, the mulberry bush
Here we go round the mulberry bush
So early in the morning

This is the way we wash our clothes
Wash our clothes, wash our clothes
This is the way we wash our clothes
So early Monday morning

Sheet Music (PDF)

7. He's Got the Whole World in His Hand

Lyrics (Excerpt):
He's got the whole world in His hands,
He's got the whole world in His hands,
He's got the whole world in His hands,
He's got the whole world in His hands.

He's got my brothers and my sisters in His hands,
He's got my brothers and my sisters in His hands,
He's got my brothers and my sisters in His hands,
He's got the whole world in His hands.

Sheet Music

8. Home on the Range (1873, words by Brewster Higley/music by Daniel Kelley)

Lyrics (Excerpt):
Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam
And the deer and the antelope play
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
And the skies are not cloudy all day

Home, home on the range
Where the deer and the antelope play
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
And the skies are not cloudy all day

Sheet Music

9. London Bridge Is Falling Down (1744)

Lyrics (Excerpt):
London Bridge is falling down,
Falling down, falling down.
London Bridge is falling down,
My fair lady!

Build it up with iron bars,
Iron bars, iron bars.
Build it up with iron bars,
My fair lady!

Sheet Music

10. Mary Had a Little Lamb (1866, by Sarah Josepha Hale)

Lyrics (Excerpt):
Mary had a little lamb,
Little lamb, little lamb,
Mary had a little lamb,
Its fleece was white as snow

And everywhere that Mary went,
Mary went, Mary went,
Everywhere that Mary went
The lamb was sure to go

Sheet Music

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