Parent Tot Games and Songs

Swim Lesson Games and Songs for Parent Tot Class

We recently did a comprehensive podcast on this topic: SIP 006: Songs and Games for Parent Tot classes


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Sing the Hokey Pokey:

Hokey Pokey together as a group. Put all floaty toys in the middle of a circle.

You put your hands in, you put your hands out,

you put your hands in and you paddle them about,

 you do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around,

that’s what it’s all about….

You put your right arm in, you put your right arm out,

you put your right arm in and you splash it all about,

you do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself about

that’s what it’s all about…

You put your left arm in…

You put your lips in…. …and you blow bubbles all about

You put your hair in… …and you splash it all about

You put your whole self in… …and you splash about

The Hokey Pokey is a standard song and one most people are familiar with. We save it for the end of our classes and it makes an excellent end of lesson song.

Each time you chose a body part to put in, place that in front of you and splash it about either gently or furiously. The instructor’s enthusiasm will dictate the energy parents and swimmers will put into the game/song too.

Alligator, Alligator Song

Hold your child’s hands with yours. Sing the following:

“Alligator, Alligator, on the wall.

Alligator, alligator, in you fall!”

“One, two, three, go!”

On “go” gently pull the child into a hug by lifting and pulling their hands towards you and then wrapping their arms around your neck.  Smile, laugh, and be happy.

Restrict the depth the infant goes underwater. Limit the water to only go up to their shoulders. Keep the infant’s face above water as you gently pull them into the water and into your embrace.


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Motorboat, Motorboat

. Parents hands over the baby’s hands.

Encourage them to kick to toys, to the wall, to you.

-Play Motorboat, Motorboat with the children. Have parents do it


Sing the following:

Motorboat, motorboat, go so slow (drawn out)

Motorboat, motorboat, go so Fast…..

Motorboat, motorboat, STEP ON THE GAS!!!!

For each stage of motorboat, move quicker as you sing. When you do “step on the gas!” move quickly and change your tone of voice.

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Twinkle Twinkle

Sing this song while doing back floats and encourage the child to look into the ceiling and look for stars.

  Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
     How I wonder what you are.
     Up above the world so high,
     Like a diamond in the sky.

   Twinkle, twinkle, little star.
     How I wonder what you are.
     How I wonder what you are.

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Humpty Dumpty:

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

Play this game while having your child sit on the side of the pool. When you either finish, or when you say “had a great fall” hold the child’s hands and pull them into the water into your arms. You can play this game at the beginning of your swimming lesson too. Have everyone sit on the side and then sing the song for each participant. Pull them in or let them jump into your arms when you finish the song each time.

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I’m a little Teapot

I’m a little teapot,
Short and stout
Here is my handle here is my spout
When I’m all steamed up
Hear me shout
Tip me over,
And pour me out!!!

Alternate version of the song:
I’m a little teapot,
Short and stout,
Here is my handle, here is my handle….
Wait a minute… I’M A SUGARBOWL!

During the lyrics of the song, you should pantomime the different characteristics of the “teapot”

For “spout” and “handle” put your arms to your side: spout to your hip, and other arm out to the side. When you play the Sugarbowl version, put both hands at your hips.

You can further amplify this song by pouring water on the swimmers in your group at the end of the song. When you get to, “pour me out” pour a bucket of water over your participant’s heads. You can also give them each their own buckets or pails and sing the song as a group. When you get to the end, everyone pours their own water out!

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Head and Shoulders Knees and Toes

Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes

Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes

And eyes and ears and mouth and nose

Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes

Additional verses are sung by omitting the first word sung in the previous verse, and, instead, children touch their body parts, without actually saying the word. For example:

Verse 2
—-, shoulders, knees and toes
Verse 3
—-, —-, knees and toes
Verse 4
—-, —-, —- — toes
Verse 5
—-, —-, —- — —-

This pattern continues until the children are silently touching their body parts in rhythm with the song. The last verse consists of no actual singing, just touching what would have been sung or repeating the first verse in a quicker tempo.

You can play this game/song while having your swimmer sit on the edge of the pool where you point to different body parts with each verse. If your child doesn’t mind either, you can take a small bucket or cup and sprinkle water over the body part during the song. Pour water over the back of the head on “head,” over the shoulders on “shoulders,” and continuing to all parts. When you omit words you can have the swimmer pour water on themselves when they say the word, or you can pour water once they sing the lyric.

Another adaptation is to kneel down in the water to that depth for each portion of the lyrics if you can bend or lower yourself that well or lift your swimmer up.

  • If you’re Happy and You know it

If you’re happy and you know it, splash your hands!

(splash water, splash water)

If you’re happy and you know it, splash your hands!

(splash water, splash water)

If you’re happy and you know it, and you really want to show it;

If you’re happy and you know it, splash your hands!

(splash, splash)

You can change the lyrics with each round. Here are some ideas!

“… turn around!”

“… snap your fingers!”

“… bob your head!”

“… blow some bubbles!”

“… splash your face!”

“… kick your feet!”

“… splash your feet!


Alphabet Song

A, B, C, D, E, F, G…

H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P…( “l, m, n, o,” spoken twice as quickly as rest of rhyme)

Q, R, S…/ and T, U, V… (/kjuː ɑr ɛs, tiː juː viː,/ pause between s and t)

W… X…/ and Y and/& Z. pause between x y, w and x last for two beats

Now, I know my ABCs.

Next time, won’t you sing with me?

Alternate fun version: BACKWARDS!!!




I-H-G-F-EDCBA– (EDCBA said like LMNOP in original alphabet song)

Now I know my CBAs;Next time, won’t you lead the way?

While singing the Alphabet song you can hold your child in the back glide or back float position where they can relax on their backs, or you can hold them in the front float or glide position. Either way works and we’re using the song to create a peaceful stimulating experience where participants are calm and enjoying the sound of their parent’s voice while also doing a float of some kind. Sometimes the song takes their mind of the fact that they ears are in the water, or their mouth is touching water.


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Row Row Row your Boat

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream.

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream.
If you see an alligator,
Don’t forget to scream.

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream.
Throw your teacher overboard
And listen to her scream.
Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream.
Ha ha, fooled ya,
I’m a submarine.
Most of the time we play this song while doing back or front floats. With the additional ‘silly’ versions you can incorporate some fun and excitement beyond just the singing and joining in. When you say “See an alligator” have the other participants do Alligator walks and when you run into them after the float make sure you time it to the song. Encourage the participant to ‘scream.’ During the “ha ha, fooled ya, I’m a submarine” you can pull yourself underwater and if you have an advanced participant you can say, “Ready, Go!” and pull them under too.


More Songs:

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