This post may contain affiliate links. This just means I get a small percentage of the sale if you purchase through my link – at no extra cost to you. You can read my full disclosure here. Thank you for your support!
A Concise Guide to Piggyback Songs for Toddlers
Have you ever wished for an easy way to breathe new life into your toddler’s favorite song? Or, perhaps you’ve thought to yourself while singing your child’s favorite song “Ugh…not again!”? Then, let’s take a look at piggyback songs for toddlers!
To be honest, this isn’t a new concept, but it’s one that will benefit you immensely. You can breathe new life into that tired children’s song. And you’ll give yourself a challenge all while impressing your little one, too. Interested to know what exactly a piggyback song is? Then keep reading.
What is a piggyback song?
A piggyback song is simply a song that changes the text of a well-known song. In other words, the melody typically stays the same, but the lyrics are changed.
In fact, you probably already know many piggyback songs already! Think about “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”. It’s a well-known children’s song and that melody (which itself was originally a French folk song) is the same melody used for “Baa, Baa Black Sheep” and “The Alphabet Song”. Now, take a minute to sing through those songs in your head and you’ll hear how to melody is the same. But, the words have just been changed.
To be fair, piggyback songs are a go-to for music educators everywhere with good reason. Song lyrics can be changed to fit just about any topic imaginable. Once you know the melody, it can be easy to change the words a bit. Just take a look at Teaching Mama’s list of winter-themed piggyback songs. Here, you’ll find many songs with altered lyrics to fit most winter topics as well as handy printable cards for each song.
As a parent, these kinds of piggyback songs for toddlers can be incredibly beneficial. Instead of singing that go-to song again for the millionth time, just hum the melody and start creating your own version! But this begs the question many often ask:
How do I make a piggyback song for a toddler?
Creating your own piggyback song is fairly straightforward! Thinking about creating a whole new set of song lyrics can be intimidating, so look through these 5 tips to get you started creating your own piggyback song.
1. Use a children’s song that you are familiar with.
First, I always recommend to parents to start with a children’s song that they know well. Technically, you can use any song that you’re able to sing. But, by starting with a simple song with a repetitive, small-ranged melody, you are more likely to create the lyrics. Children’s songs are exactly that – short, repetitive, and all within a small range. And, if you want a list of the easiest songs to start with, take a look at these 12 classic children’s songs. Here, you’ll find out just why these are so beneficial for your child.
2. Start with simple changes.
Second, rather than creating a new song from scratch, try making small changes to the one you’ve chosen. For example, instead of singing the word ‘baby’, try using your own child’s name. Or, change the spider in “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” to an army ant or an earthworm. There are several simple changes that you can start with, so make sure you read this list of 5 simple changes to your child’s favorite song.
3. Make small changes, one at a time.
Third, start with a single change. Sing through the song a few times. Once you’ve mastered that change, add another one. So, let’s say you decided to sing about honey bee in “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”. Instead of flying up the water spout, have the honey bee flying around the flowers. If ‘flowers’ is a bit complicated to sing, try some synonyms, like blooms. So, in the end, it might go like “The itsy bitsy honey bee, flew amongst the blooms.”
It might sound silly to you, but you’re singing a new verse now! And, the simple concepts will be important to your little one. You are introducing your child to new words, new ideas, and most importantly, interacting with them. They hear you practicing, making mistakes, and essentially having fun singing a new song! Remember: just focus on one line at a time, and once you think you’ve found a good version, sing it through a few times.
4. Don’t worry about rhymes in the beginning.
Fourth, just remember we aren’t writing fine poetry here. These are supposed to be simple concepts and ideas that are put to music. So, while rhyming might be perfect in those age-old tunes, it doesn’t have to be the case in your version. It can certainly be a goal once you’ve created your new lyrics, but don’t let that stop you in the beginning.
5. Practice, practice, practice.
Finally, as ANY musician will tell you, practice is key. Just keep singing through your new creation. If it sounds a bit wonky, make a few changes. Or, just embrace the new wonky version. Who says it must be perfect? Just keep singing and trying different word combinations out. You’ll find the one you and your child love.
What are some examples of piggyback songs for toddlers?
There are so many great examples of piggyback songs out there! For many, starting with a simple but well-known children’s song, like “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” can be a good starting point. And you’re in luck! I’ve gathered 10 of the best piggyback songs that make use of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”. I made sure each variation was easy to sing and easy to remember, so take a look to see if there is one you fancy!
The best part of piggyback songs is that you can use ANY song of your choosing! Not a fan of children’s songs? Then pick your own popular song or classical tune and change up the words. For those of you who would rather go with classical songs, take a look at this piggyback song using The Toreadors Song from Carmen by Bizet from Sara over at Let’s Play Music. Whatever song you choose, make sure it’s one you like singing and that you can sing!
But if you want simpler options, take a look below to see which of these you like best. You’ll find each song makes use of a classical children’s tune. And make sure to sign up to receive all the songs mentioned below in a handy, printable format so you can keep them handy and ready to use!
5 Engaging Piggyback Songs for Toddlers
“The Weather Song, sung to the melody of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”
So, here is one of my own variations. This is a great one to sing to your little one to get them talking about the weather. They can learn all the basic concepts (sunny, windy, rainy, snowy, etc.) and this song helps to reinforce those ideas. As an added bonus, it’s got two verses just to make sure all major weather events are covered.
“The Days of the Weeks”, sung to “Oh my Darling, Clementine”
This song might seem senselessly repetitive, but once you sing the song through a few times, it’s actually quite useful! Both of my children learned this song at preschool and used it to figure out the day of the week! I’ve even heard them singing it to themselves a time or two. So, even though it might seem silly to us, it’s helpful in teaching useful concepts for your little ones!
“This Is the Way We Plant the Seeds” sung to “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush” (aka, “This Is the Way We Brush Our Teeth”)
Perhaps you noticed, but this particular song (“Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush”) is often used as a piggy back song. In fact, the very popular song “This is the Way” uses the same melody, but just changes up the lyrics. A perfect examples of a piggyback song! This particular version is wonderful for the spring and summer seasons when you want your little one to explore outside a bit. Use this to get them engaged in gardening!
“The Tiger in the Zoo” sung to “The Wheels on the Bus”
Here is a song for ENDLESS ideas. Because it’s so incredibly repetitive, you can change just about any element to suit your needs. The version below introduces animals you might see in the zoo, but you can easily change it up and introduce animals in the woods, (“The bear in the woods says “ ‘Rawr’, ‘Rawr’, ‘Rawr’…”), animals on the farm, (“The cow on the farm says “ ‘Moo!, ‘Moo!, ‘Moo!”), or even sea creatures (“The fish in the sea goes “ ‘Blub, ‘Blub, ‘Blub’…”)!
Another fantastic feature of this song is that you can add movement as well. Consider focusing on how animals move, too, as is shown in the last verse provided below. This gets your little ones up and moving with the song!
“If You’re Wearing Red Today” sung to “Mary Had a Little Lamb”
This is a song I’ve used myself in a nearby Storytime group. It’s such an amazing time – there are songs, a book that’s read, and then a few songs that can be associated with that book’s topic. The kids love it! I read “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See” and then sang this song. The children were so excited for me to sing a color of clothing that they were wearing. It’s really a great example of a piggy back song, so just change up the colors to see which ones your little one knows already!
Children’s Books with Piggyback Song Lyrics
Let’s be honest – sometimes we just need a break from singing. And I completely understand that parents of toddlers don’t have loads of time to think of new song lyrics. That’s why I’ve found 5 excellent books that will give you lots of ideas for piggyback songs.
Each book below is based upon a well-known children’s song and gives you inspiration for new lyrics. So, take a read through each books and in no time, you’ll be able to sing as you read!
1) “If You’re Happy and You Know It”, Jungle Edition, by James Warhola
2) “Waking Up Is Hard To Do”, by Neil Sedaka
3) “This Jazz Man”, by Karen Ehrhardt
4) “The Babies on the Bus”, by Karen Katz
5) “The Croacky Pokey”, by Ethan Long
If you aren’t convinced you can “sing” a book, then try chanting the words in a rhythmic way as you read them. These 10 rhythmic books lend themselves perfectly to chanting along – and getting your little one clapping, too!
Well, dear readers, that’s all for today. Now you have 5 excellent and easy piggyback songs for your toddler PLUS 5 rhythmic books with piggyback song lyrics. Either way, you now have tons of new ideas and I’m sure your toddler will get a kick out of hearing some new lyrics, too.
Which piggyback song does your toddler love? Let me know in the comments below.
Happy music making,
P.S. Don’t forget to sign up to get your copy of these piggyback songs for toddlers sent straight to your inbox right now. The sign up is above. And if you want access to other awesome freebies, like these song cards, just check out the FREE resource library!