Scotlands Culture\|Scotlands Songs

Children's songs

Image of hopscotch layout

In the early years section, there are many songs composed for or by children. Sometimes it is very hard to know who made up these small songs for small people or when they were written. As they are usually learned aurally (by ear) rather than learned from a book, they are particularly susceptible to being changed.

Some people call the short songs that Scottish children sing when they are playing outdoors 'street songs'. These days the songs are sung in the playground more than in the street. Songs that were sung for ball bouncing, skipping or 'Chinese Ropes' are mostly used for hand-clapping at present, but skipping is now coming back into some schools.

As well as songs used for playing, many are used for amusement, with clever word play and sometimes surreal humour. There are many books and a few recordings that recall songs that were sung by children. It is striking how often the printed or sung versions in one place differ from those from other sources. Many of these songs were and are continually changed, added to, subtracted from and remade.


Image of hopscotch published on Flickr as Creative Commons by Pink Sherbet Photography.

Related resources

Bee Baw Babbity

The first verse of this very old song is sometimes used to amuse babies while the other verses are used for a children's ring game.

Coulter's Candy

A well known song about Robert Coultart, who sold aniseed-flavoured toffee around the fairs and markets of the Borders in the 1870s.

One, Two, Three, Aleerie

A very old song used for ball games and skipping. Many alternative versions exist from different parts of Scotland and other countries.

Red Yo-Yo

A funny song written by Matt McGinn when his daughter lost a button at school and it was announced on the school loudspeakers.