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5 Simple Songs in Spanish to Learn with Your Kids

The songs of childhood help us acquire language and learn all sorts of things, like numbers and colors. This week, contributor Emily Hunsberger suggests these five simple songs in Spanish to learn with your kids.

Music Is Magical

Music has an indelible and almost mystical effect on our brains. We’ve all heard that newborn babies recognize their parents’ voices, and they might even respond to songs that they heard while still in the womb. Singing can help people overcome speech disorders, and some stroke victims who have lost the ability to speak can still sing songs that are etched in their memory. The songs of childhood also help us acquire language and learn all sorts of things, like numbers and colors. It’s no wonder that almost every culture has its own musical canon that unites generations. I didn’t grow up in a Spanish-speaking home, so when I decided to speak to my kids exclusively in Spanish, I faced an important obstacle: I didn’t know any nursery rhymes or lullabies in Spanish. Thanks to the internet, I’ve acquired a small repertoire of songs in Spanish that I sing with my children. Here are five of my favorites that you can easily learn together!

Five Simple Songs in Spanish to Learn with Your Kids 1. “Los Pollitos” – a classic Spanish-language lullaby Version by Canticos – Nick Jr. (You’ll find the lyrics in the YouTube video description.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kXo2XX4d1jM This has become the bedtime song that my kids will probably remember me singing to them for the rest of their lives. I’ve heard different versions of it with slight variations in the lyrics, but the Canticos version is the one I like best. It includes the word acurrucaditos – which essentially means “all snuggled up together.” According to some sources, this song was originally written by Chilean poet Ismael Parraguez Cabezas in the early 1900s.

2. “Chocolate" – a fun little ditty to sing on long car rides Music and lyrics by José Luis Orozco (The sing-along lyrics appear in the video.) https://youtu.be/bjIo0oaCgMg This is a simple song about making Mexican hot chocolate that you can pretty much memorize on the first listen. It’s also a gateway to the musical world of José Luis Orozco, bilingual educator and author – and essentially the godfather of bilingual educational music. He’s been writing and recording bilingual songs for more than 40 years.

3. “La araña pequeñita” – You already know this one! Version by Alina Celeste (You’ll find the lyrics in the YouTube video description.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zv-X_OPpGBs One thing I found when teaching myself songs was that figuring out the tune could be more of a challenge than learning the lyrics! Fortunately, you’ll be one step ahead with this one. This Spanish version of “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” is pretty close to the one I sing with my kids. The hand motions that go with this song reinforce learning – and they don’t need to be translated! 4. “Órale, el alfabeto” – the Spanish alphabet set to a funky beat Music by Basho & Friends (The letters appear in the video.) https://youtu.be/5MJbHmgaeDM José Luis Orozco also has an alphabet song, but in my opinion, this version by Basho & Friends is a little more hip and fun to sing. Plus, it includes an early introduction to syllables (each consonant and the five Spanish vowels), which are the basic building blocks for learning Spanish phonics.

5. “Cosquillas” – to give you an excuse for a tickle fight Music and lyrics by 123 Andrés (You can find the lyrics here: http://www.123andres.com/lyrics/cosquillas-tickles/) https://youtu.be/L7gUaPpDxII Latin Grammy award-winning musician 123 Andrés, made up of married duo Andrés and Christina, has been part of our family’s soundtrack since my oldest was an infant. All of their songs are original, with Spanish and English versions, and they feature different musical styles and instruments from all over Latin America. It never feels like a sacrifice to parents to put on “kids’ music” when it’s 123 Andrés!

BONUS: “Música Amiga” – if you still have a CD player somewhere This 10-part series featuring music and vocals by celebrated musician Suni Paz includes folk classics from Latin America along with original poems and songs written by legendary bilingual authors and poets Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy. The music from this series isn’t on YouTube and can’t be downloaded on iTunes or Google Play, but you can order the CDs, with accompanying lyric booklets, from Del Sol Books. What song do you think your kids remember when they’re all grown up?!

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Emily Hunsberger is a mom of two and a bilingual communications consultant. She also explores Spanish-speaking culture in the U.S. through her Spanish-language podcast, Tertulia, available on www.tertuliapodcast.com and most podcast platforms. Emily recently began curating a collection of refranes on Instagram, too. Check it out @refranescotidianos.

Photo: Copyright 123 Andrés

Photo credit: Zabdiel

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