Folk Songs for Children
Do your children know simple folk songs?
As with so many beautiful things of the past, folk songs seem to be falling by the wayside. One of our greatest treasures is being lost and it's up to us to keep those songs alive for this generation!
Just as with beautiful living books, folk songs teach our children history in an authentic and engaging manner. Songs like This Land is Your Land, Shenandoah, Goober Peas, and When the Saints Go Marching In are just a few examples of an entire genre of music (and education!) our children are missing.
"Folk songs not only help children learn about important events but also allow them to more closely relate to the hardships and joys of their grandparents and ancestors by stepping into their shoes." (source)
Folk songs can also simply provide FUN - and oftentimes are just nonsensical. I have great memories of singing folk songs when I was little - but somehow that has dropped out of mainstream education.
What IS a Folk Song?
Here are 4 simple criteria of folk songs. Once you know them you will easily be able to spot folk songs.
Give it a try - if you learn a song with your children, see if the song matches up with these four criteria.
A Folk Song:
- comes from the people of a specific area/country
- is passed down by oral tradition from one singer or generation to the next
- often exists in several versions
- usually has a simple melody and verse/refrain form
Three Ways to Easily Learn Folk Songs
It's never too late to start learning folk songs with your children.
But what if you don't feel comfortable singing with your children - or you don't feel that you have a good voice? Please let me encourage you; your voice is probably better than you think, and all you have to do is try.
Children will remember that you sang to them, not the quality of your voice.
Three simple ways to learn folk songs:
- Start a collection of picture books that are folk songs - make a conscious effort to read/sing these on a regular basis.
- Regularly listen to folk songs - search for playlists and albums that have folk songs with authentic instruments (I can't tell you how many folk songs my kids learned from our Raffi recordings!)
- Let others help you - find general music instruction that is reach in folk singing
Favorite Picture Books/Folk Songs
The following books are just the tip of the iceberg! Over the years our family has collected many books that are folk songs - and now my own children have an extensive knowledge of folk songs because we read books.
Your local library might also have a specific section of these, too - just check with your librarian.
Sometimes the books will have simple written music in the back, and more recently I have seen books that have an .mp3 download that comes with them. (Look at Jennie Jenkins as an example - this entire series of books is wonderful!)
Inch by Inch: The Garden Song (Trophy Picture Books (Paperback))This Land Is Your LandHush, Little Baby: A Folk Song with PicturesMy Aunt Came Back (First Steps in Music series)Jennie Jenkins (First Steps in Music series)By Ezra Jack Keats - Over in the Meadow (4/24/99)She'll Be Comin' 'Round the MountainAmerican Folk Songs for ChildrenYankee Doodle (Sing-Along Stories)Miss Mary Mack: A Hand-Clapping RhymeGonna Sing My Head Off!: American Folk Songs for Children [Collected and Arranged for Piano and Guitar]The Pocket ShantymanSailor Song: The Shanties and Ballads of the High SeasWee Sing Fun 'n' Folk bookFrog Went A-Courtin'It's Raining, It's Pouring (Iza Trapani's Extended Nursery Rhymes)Oh Where, Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone? (Iza Trapani's Extended Nursery Rhymes)Shoo Fly! (Iza Trapani's Extended Nursery Rhymes)Old MacDonald Had a . . . Zoo? (Iza Trapani's Extended Nursery Rhymes)Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star (Iza Trapani's Extended Nursery Rhymes)Mary Had a Little Lamb (Iza Trapani's Extended Nursery Rhymes)I'm a Little Teapot (Iza Trapani's Extended Nursery Rhymes)How Much Is That Doggie in the Window? (Iza Trapani's Extended Nursery Rhymes)The Itsy Bitsy Spider (Iza Trapani's Extended Nursery Rhymes)Row Row Row Your Boat (Iza Trapani's Extended Nursery Rhymes)Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush (Iza Trapani's Extended Nursery Rhymes)Old King Cole (Iza Trapani's Extended Nursery Rhymes)Froggie Went A-Courtin' (Iza Trapani's Extended Nursery Rhymes)The Bear Went Over the MountainGet America Singing...Again! Vol. 1 (Piano / Vocal / Guitar) (A Project of the Music Educators National Conference)Get America Singing...Again! Vol. 2 (Piano / Vocal / Guitar)There's a Hole in the BucketThe Frog and the Mouse (First Steps in Music series)Had a Little Rooster (First Steps in Music series)The Swapping Song (First Steps in Music series)Kitty Alone (First Steps in Music series)Risseldy, Rosseldy (First Steps in Music series)The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night (First Steps in Music series)The Other Day I Met a Bear (First Steps in Music series)
SQUILT Folk Song Playlist
Use this playlist I've put together as a starting point for your folk song listening - one song leads to another, and you might find yourself stumbling upon other songs and creating your own playlists, too!
You'd be amazed at how much your children will remember and love just because you turned on folk music during the day.
Folk Songs in SQUILT LIVE!
This summer will be a summer of SONG in SQUILT LIVE!
We will be learning and singing folk songs, listening to orchestral arrangements of those folks songs, and also learning about our own voices and how people write music for voice.
One of our first activities will be to learn the folk song "The Green Grass Grew All Around" - we will add actions, instruments, song cards, and more! It's sure to be fun for children preschool - middle school!
Lessons will continue live all summer, but if you cannot attend live everything is recorded. We'll have a listening calendar each month, so that your children will have a piece of folk music each and every day.