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Poems + action and other rhymes for children

The clucking hen

The cold old house

The early morning

The fairies

The lark is up to meet the sun

The leaves had a wonderful frolic

The little plant

The little tune

The Owl and the Pussycat

The prickly little hedgehog

The robin

The rose is red

The snake

The swing

The tadpole

The winds they did blow / The squirrel

The woodpecker

There are big waves

There was a little robin


Three jolly gentlemen

This is the boat, the golden boat

Tippety, tippety tin

To let

The night will never stay by Eleanor Farjeon

Yellow the bracken


Have fun with this collection; it’s a great way to:

• increase verbal skills, expand vocabulary and horizons

• interact with a partner or larger groups and understand turn taking

• learn to follow or synchronize actions with each other

• learn to start and stop and discover the value of rules

• use children’s natural response to rhythm and rhyme

• sharpen listening skills

• improve memory

• continue the tradition of children’s verse from this and other countries

• be creative, there are many opportunities change words or actions, add verses, use different

voices or change roles

• above all to have lots of tremendous fun – even the most timid child will follow the rhyme

and with the group soon begin to join in.


The rhymes and poems below are part of ‘Away we go!’

compiled and illustrated by Dany Rosevear

Last updated: 5/21/2019 4:40 PM

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To watch and listen to the rhyme click on the title at:

© Dany Rosevear 2012 All rights reserved


You are free to copy, distribute, display and perform these works under the following conditions:

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·       you may not use this work for commercial purposes

·       for any re-use or distribution, you must make clear to others the licence terms of this work

·       any of these can be waived if you get permission from the copyright holder


Your fair use and other rights are no way affected by the above.



The clucking hen 🔊



How many chicks are hatched?

From Aunt Effie's ‘Rhymes For Little Children’ by Jane Euphemia Saxby published 1860.

Melody adapted from a traditional tune (The Fox, Time and Tune BBC Schools, Spring 1955) by Dany Rosevear.




















“Will you take a walk with me,

My little wife, to-day?

There’s barley in the barley field,

And hay-seed in the hay.”


“Thank you;” said the clucking hen;

“I’ve something else to do;

I’m busy sitting on my eggs,

I cannot walk with you.”


“Cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck,”

Said the clucking hen;

“My little chicks will soon be hatched,

I’ll think about it then.”


The clucking hen sat on her nest,

She made it in the hay;

And warm and snug beneath her breast,

A dozen white eggs lay.


Crack, crack, went all the eggs,

Out dropped the chickens small!

“Cluck,” said the clucking hen,

“Now I have you all.”


“Come along, my little chicks,

 I’ll take a walk with YOU.”

“Hallo!” said the barn-door cock,





The early morning 🔊



A poem by Hilaire Belloc.

Music by Dany Rosevear.




























The moon on the one hand, the dawn on the other:

The moon is my sister, the dawn is my brother.

The moon on my left, and the dawn on my right.

My brother, good morning: my sister, good night.



The fairies 🔊



A favourite of mine from my childhood. By the Irish poet William Allingham 1824–89. With thoughts of young children I have only included two verses; for the whole sad story of young Bridget who was taken away by the little men visit:

Music by Dany Rosevear.














































Up the airy mountain, Down the rushy glen,

We daren't go a-hunting For fear of little men;

Wee folk, good folk, Trooping all together;

Green jacket, red cap, And white owl's feather!


Down along the rocky shore Some make their home,

They live on crispy pancakes Of yellow tide-foam;

Some in the reeds Of the black mountain lake,

With frogs for their watch-dogs, All night awake.



The cold old house O



This anonymous rhyme came from BBC Radio’s wonderful Poetry Corner, Spring 1973; Tune by Dany Rosevear.






















I know a house, and a cold old house,

A cold old house by the sea.

If I were a mouse in that cold old house,

What a cold, cold mouse I’d be!




The lark is up to meet the sun 🔊



Wise words from the past. A poem by Jane Taylor, 1783-1824, from William Holmes McGuffey’s ‘McGuffey's Eclectic Primer’ published 1848.

Music by Dany Rosevear.


































The lark is up to meet the sun,

The bee is on the wing,

The ant her labor has begun,

The woods with music ring.


Shall birds and bees and ants be wise,

While I my moments waste?

Oh, let me with the morning rise,

And to my duties haste.


Why should I sleep till beams of morn

Their light and glory shed?

Immortal beings were not born

To waste their time in bed.



The leaves had a wonderful frolic 🔊



A poem for Autumn. ‘The leaves’ is yet another anonymous classic.

Melody by Dany Rosevear.


























The leaves had a wonderful frolic,

They danced to the wind's loud song,

They whirled, and they floated, and scampered,

They circled and flew along.


The moon saw the little leaves dancing,

Each looked like a small brown bird.

The man in the moon smiled and listened,

And this is the song he heard:


The North Wind is calling, is calling,

And we must whirl round and round,

And then, when our dancing is ended

We'll make a warm quilt for the ground.





The little plant O



A poem by Kate Louise Brown 1924-1964. Music by Dany Rosevear.


1. Put finger in fist. 2. Put hands to cheek. 3. Stretch arms, make shape of the sun, finger peeps through fist. 4. Stretch, make raindrops with fingers. 5. Put hand to ear, make finger grow higher in fist. 6. Look thrilled.






































In the heart of a seed,

Buried deep, so deep,

A dear little plant lay fast asleep.

“Wake!” said the sunshine “And creep to the light,”

“Wake!” said the voice of the raindrops bright.

The little plant heard and it rose to see

What a wonderful outside world might be.




The little tune 🔊



A lesser known poem by Rose Fyleman.

Music by Dany Rosevear.


Verse 1. Play a violin or other instrument, draw sun. make hill with hands, hands move and stop, cup hands and open. Verse 2. Play as before, thumb and forefinger make moon shape, put hand to brow, with each hand make rabbit ears, put hand to ears.































He played his little tune

One summer afternoon,

And on the grassy hill

The very breeze was still,

While every buttercup

Looked up – looked up.


He played his little tune

Beneath the yellow moon;

So sweet it was , so light,

That (oh, the darling sight)

The bunnies all drew near

To hear – to hear.



The Owl and the Pussycat 🔊



An old classic nonsense poem by Edward Lear set to music by Victor Hely-Hutchinson. There are several other tunes but this is the version I was familiar with as a child from the singing of Elton Hayes on Children’s Favourites on BBC radio in the 1950s.











































The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea

In a beautiful pea-green boat,

They took some honey, and plenty of money,

Wrapped up in a five-pound note.

The Owl looked up to the stars above,

And sang to a small guitar,

"O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,

What a beautiful Pussy you are,

You are,

You are!

What a beautiful Pussy you are!"


Pussy said to the Owl, "You elegant fowl!

How charmingly sweet you sing!

O let us be married! too long we have tarried:

But what shall we do for a ring?"

They sailed away, for a year and a day,

To the land where the Bong-Tree grows

And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood

With a ring at the end of his nose,

His nose,

His nose,

With a ring at the end of his nose.


"Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling

Your ring?" Said the Piggy, "I will."

So they took it away, and were married next day

By the Turkey who lives on the hill.

They dined on mince, and slices of quince,

Which they ate with a runcible spoon;

And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,

They danced by the light of the moon,

The moon,

The moon,

They danced by the light of the moon.



The prickly little hedgehog O



A poem for Autumn.

Music by Dany Rosevear.


Line 1-3. Interlink fingers and raise to make spikes, point little fingers outwards to make snout. 4. Put hands to cheek. 5-6. As for first two lines 7. Wag finger. 8. Make hands into a ball.















The prickly little hedgehog,

Goes slowly on his way.

He comes out in the evening,

And often sleeps by day.

He’s a gentle little fellow,

Who does no harm at all.

But if you try to hurt him,

He’ll curl up in a ball.




The robin 🔊



A poem by Lawrence Alma-Tadema - 1864-1940 from ‘Songs of Womanhood’ published 1903. It was set to music by Herbert Wiseman for ‘A third 60 songs for little children’ OUP 1960.















When father takes his spade to dig,

Then Robin comes along;

He sits upon a little twig,

And sings a little song.


Or, if the trees are rather far,

He does not stay alone,

But comes up close to where we are,

And bobs upon a stone.




The rose is red 🔊




A song for St. Valentine’s day adapted from the traditional rhyme by Dany Rosevear who also added the tune.















The rose is red,

The violet blue,

The pink it is sweet,

And so are you!


The rose is red, red,

The violet blue, blue,

The pink it is sweet, so sweet,

And so are you!




The snake 🔊



A poem by Karla Kuskin from ‘Dogs & Dragons/Trees & Dreams’ published by Harper & Row, 1980. Lovely and simple with lots of alliteration.

Set to music by Dany Rosevear.

It can also be used as a hand play with hand pointed and arm moving like the snake, don’t forget to stop and smile.
















A snake slipped through the thin green grass,

A silver snake,

I watched it pass;

It moved like a ribbon,

Silent as snow

I think it smiled

As it passed my toe.





The swing O



Robert Louis Stevenson wrote many delightful poems for children. Find out more about this Scottish poet at:


The tune is written by Dany Rosevear.































How do you like to go up in a swing,

Up in the air so blue?

Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing

Ever a child can do!


Up in the air and over the wall,

Till I can see so wide,

Rivers and trees and cattle and all

Over the countryside.


Till I look down on the garden green,

Down on the roof so brown-

Up in the air I go flying again,

Up in the air and down!




The tadpole 🔊



The wonder of changing life.

A poem by Elizabeth E. Gould.

Melody by Dany Rosevear.


























Underneath the water-weeds

Small and black, I wriggle,

And life is most surprising!

Wiggle! waggle! wiggle!

There's every now and then a most

Exciting change in me,

I wonder, wiggle! waggle!

What I shall turn out to be!





The winds they did blow / The squirrel 🔊



This traditional rhyme has been adapted and set to ‘a familiar tune’ by George Linley from ‘50 Nursery songs and rhymes’ published 1864.

Music arranged by Dany Rosevear. I have a feeling I sang it to a different tune in my early days of teaching but cannot recall it.































The winds they did blow,

The leaves they did wag,

Along came a beggar boy,

And put me in his bag.


He took me up to London town,

A lady did me buy,

She put me in a silver cage,

And hung me up on high;


With apples by the blazing fire,

And nuts for to crack,

Besides a little feather bed,

To rest my little back.




The woodpecker 🔊



Listen out for the innimitable woodpecker and watch for the holes it makes in trees.

A poem by Elizabeth Madox Roberts. Tune by Dany Rosevear.


1. Hold up arm and tap left palm with right forefinger. 2. Hold circled thumb and forefingers to eyes. Make fist with beak into a head. Point to head and neck. 3. Wiggle fingers downwards. Make hands ‘streak’. 4. Roll arms. Snuggle fist to arm ‘pole’.















The woodpecker pecked out a little round hole,

And made him a house in the telephone pole.


One day as I watched he poked out his head,

He had on a hood and a collar of red.


When the streams of rain pour out of the sky,

And the flashes of lightening go streaking by


And the big, big wheels of thunder roll,

He can snuggle back in his telephone pole!




There are big waves 🔊



A poem by the wonderful children’s poet Eleanor Farjeon.

Music by Dany Rosevear.


Make hands move like different kinds of waves and voice respond to the sound of the different waves.

















There are big waves and little waves,

Green waves and blue,

Waves you can jump over,

Waves you dive through.


Waves that rise up

Like a great water wall,

Waves that swell softly

And don't break at all.


Waves that can whisper,

Waves that can roar,

And tiny waves that run at you

Running on the shore.





There was a little robin 🔊



A poem by Wilhelmina Seegmuller.

Music by Dany Rosevear.























There was a little robin

Sat singing in a tree;

From early morn till dark he sang—

"The world was made for me."



Thistledown 🔊



How lovely is this?! A poem by Patience Strong from  the ‘Nursery versery’ collection published 1948. Music by Dany Rosevear.




















Thistledown, thistledown,

Where are you going,

Borne on the breath of the sweet summer’s breeze?

Floating along with the wind gently blowing,

Out of the garden and over the trees.






Three jolly gentlemen O



A poem by Walter de la Mare presumably about the hunting fraternity.

Melody by Dany Rosevear.
























Three jolly gentlemen in coats of red,

Rode their horses up to bed.

Three jolly gentlemen snored till morn,

While their horses chomped on the golden corn.

Three jolly gentlemen at break of day,

Came clitter-clatter down the stairs and galloped away.





This is the boat, the golden boat



A traditional rhyme that conjures up brilliant images. Sometimes the little men are ‘fairy’ or ‘ferry’ men.

The last four lines are written by Mary Thienes Schunemann in ‘Sing a song with baby’.


Line 1. Cup hands together and make them sway 2. Move hands like the waves 3. Interlace fingers with palms up 4. Lower and raise fingers 5. Show ten fingers 6. Fingers run 7. Interlace fingers with palms up 8. Lower and raise fingers 9. Cup hands together and make them sway 10. Move hands like the waves 11. Make a circle with thumbs and forefingers 12. Wiggle fingers 13. Cup hands together and make them move forward 14. Lift hands and cross them on the heart 15. Move hands like the waves


This is the boat, the golden boat,

That sails on the silvery sea.

These are the oars of ivory white,

That lift and dip, that lift and dip.

Here are the ten little sailor men,

Running along, running along,

To take the oars of ivory white

That lift and dip, that lift and dip,

That move the boat, the golden boat,

Over the silvery sea.


Here is the moon so big and round,

That shines on the boat

That is homeward bound;

Back to the harbour safe and sound,

From its sail on the silvery sea.



Tippety, tippety tin



An old West Somerset rhyme once recited in homes locally after eating pancakes. A little research suggests this song was known more widely in the West country including Cornwall and Exmoor in Devon with associated rituals.


Tippety, tippety

Tippety, tippety tin,

Give me a pancake

And I will come in.

Tippety, tippety

Tippety, tippety toe,

Give me a pancake

And then I will go.





To let 🔊



A Spring poem about the wonders of new life.

Words by D. Newey-Johnson.

Melody by Dany Rosevear.



















Two little beaks went tap, tap, tap!

Two little shells went crack, crack, crack!

Two fluffy chicks peeped out, and oh,

They liked the looks of the big world so.

They left their houses without a fret,

And two little shells are now to let!




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