Mixing it up: Why it's fun to play with song and rhyme lyrics

Children laughing and singing
Category: Bookbug

Children love songs like The Wheels on the Bus because the simple, repetitive structure is easy to join in with, and the actions make it fun. But every once in a while, I like to mix it up and change the words. Although there are some standard verses that children come to expect, you can also turn this into a game and ask children to suggest new ideas. Allow their imaginations to run wild and let their bus be full of people, animals… or whatever else they can think of.

Instead of the Mums on the bus going ‘chatter, chatter, chatter’, they might go ‘tickle, tickle, tickle’. And the Dads don't always have to go ‘shh, shh, shh’ – maybe Dads want to go ‘cuddle, cuddle, cuddle’ or ‘laugh, laugh, laugh’?

Changing the words also gives you the opportunity to challenge stereotypes

Changing the words also gives you the opportunity to challenge stereotypes and make your songs and rhymes more inclusive of your Bookbug group and wider community. Ask your group – would they like to move away from using ‘chatter’ and ‘shh’? Can they think of anything else they'd want to do? You can also change your bus passengers to reflect the people at your Bookbug Session. I’ve heard lots of different verses of this song that have grannies who text, granddads who knit, Bookbug who reads, man/woman who goes ‘achoo’… the possibilities are endless!

Of course, this also works for other songs and rhymes too. In any song, you can change the characters. You can change the reference from Mummy to Daddy if you’re singing 5 Little Ducks and instead of Mummy duck, it could be Daddy duck who calls the ducklings home. Likewise, Granny, Granddad or anyone can call the doctor if little monkeys are jumping on the bed (and bump their head). 

There are lots of different advantages to this. It’s a great way to inspire creative thinking and mental flexibility. Both children and adults will need to think on the spot and work to try something new rather than the words they’re used to. It might be a bit challenging during a Bookbug Session, but it’s a great way to involve the group and it’s sure to add a bit (more) excitement to your Bookbug Session and refresh the songs and rhymes you know so well. 


For inspiration on new songs and rhymes to share with little ones, head over to the Bookbug Song and Rhyme Library.