Music, singing and action songs are great ways to get children up and moving. It’s been proven that music reduces stress by lowering cortisol levels, and singing increases language acquisition. Action songs are also a great way to include some brain gym exercises in your day. These exercises help to connect right and left hemispheres of the brain and strengthen neural pathways.

Try out our list of brain breaks for preschoolers. They are all about chanting, singing and dancing. Plus there’s a free pdf packed with songs loved by teachers for you to download.

The Classics

There are a whole range of classic action songs for preschoolers that are probably already in your repertoire. Here are a few:

  • Head, shoulders, knees and toes
  • In a cottage in a wood
  • 1,2,3,4,5 once I caught a fish alive
  • Twinkle, twinkle little star
  • Row row row your boat

But you can always change it up by teaching a different version of a classic.
For example –
Twinkle twinkle little star (twinkle hands)
My mum drives a motor car (both hands turning the steering wheel)
Push the throttle, pull the choke (push and pull)
Off we go in a puff of smoke (push hands up and apart – an explosion)
Twinkle twinkle little star (twinkle hands)
My mum drives a motor car  (steering wheel)
(these days automatic cars make throttle & choke a bit old fashioned but you get the idea)

Or you can go completely bananas with

Twinkle twinkle … GORILLA STAR!
How I wonder WHAT you are
Up above the world you SWING!
(this one is meant to be LOUD – and finish with some monkey arm swinging)


5 Styles of Action Songs To Try With Preschoolers

1. Finger Rhyme: Five Little Peas

Great for fine motor skills and dexterity this rhyme gets fingers moving and stretching. Try with one hand and then the other (notice the difference).

Five little peas in a pea-pod pressed,   (Line one – Clench all the fingers on one hand.)

One grew, two grew, and so did all the rest. (Line two – Slowly open out the fingers.)

They grew and they grew …and did not stop, (Line three – Stretch fingers wide apart.)

Until one day the pod went …POP! (Line four – When they say POP! clap loudly)


2. Action song: Wind the Bobbin up

This one has lots of arm stretching – while the giraffe in the video is sitting – it can easily be done standing to get some arm swing happening!


3. Call and response: I am the Music Man

The Learning Station has a range of brain break and action songs. The music man is a memory song as well as a call and response “what do you play?” For children, using their voices sends oxygen to the brain (great for concentration).


4. Following Instructions: If You’re a Kid (Dance Around!) 

The video below provides some ideas for you to make up your own acapella instruction song. Sometimes it’s good to just turn off the music player and sing with the kids. Suggestion: It doesn’t have to be boy/girl it could be “if you’re in red” (color recognition). Use this style of chant to include movements like patting head, rubbing tummy (concentration and focus) or lazy eights in the air (co-ordinates eyes and focus)


5. Dance Moves: I am an Elephant of India

Bindi Irwin’s action songs win over kids of all ages – and it doesn’t matter if the actions or words aren’t exactly right – you could use ribbons and scarves for swinging like the elephant. Get preschoolers to lean their heads and shoulders forward as they swing their whole body to loosen muscles if they’ve been sitting (and you do it too!)


Bonus: Another one just for fun: The Sid Shuffle

From the movie Ice Age: Continental Drift, the Sid Shuffle is contagious fun. Although this one seems tricky – you might be surprised. The kids might be teaching you – to walk it out like granny!

Still want more?

Download a 25-Songs-Educa-PDF with 25 songs (complete with links to videos).

All these songs are chosen by preschool teachers and kids love them!

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This article was brought to you by the team at EducaFor more information about how our preschool software delights parents and saves teacher time check out our website

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