11 Easy Echo Songs For Schools

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Are you looking for new ways to get kids singing right away at any level? 

Do you want to spice up your class openings to include new echo songs? 

Echo songs are one of the easiest and most common ways to start music classes at any age. But we all get stuck in some ruts and end up repeating many of the same songs. This is why I came up with this list of 11 easy echo songs for schools. 

Echo songs, also known as repeat after me songs, require little thought on the students’ part. These are some of my favorites: 

  • My Aunt Came Back
  • Down By The Bay
  • The Alligator Song
  • Hey-o Brazilian Bop
  • Miss Mary Mack
  • Charlie Over The Ocean
  • Oh My! No More Pie
  • The Other Day I Met A Bear
  • The Green Grass Grew All Around
  • Pole Pole 
  • Ooh! A lay ah! 

Check out the rest of this article for more information on echo songs and these examples in detail. 

What Is An Echo Song? 

Simply put, an echo song is one where the leader sings or chants a phrase, and the class repeats. These are popular as opening songs in elementary music classrooms and as camp songs. 

To be qualified as an echo song, the response from the group must match what the leader has said exactly. 

Echo songs are perfect songs for getting started making music right away. Here are some reasons I like to use echo songs in my music classroom:

  • No prior teaching needed; just start singing
  • Often engaging and upbeat
  • Removes the need for memorization on the group’s part
  • Great lead-in to more complicated call and response songs
  • Common song format in many children’s songs around the world

You may also enjoy learning about songs in different form: 

Echo Songs Vs. Call And Response Songs For Kids

This may seem like splitting hairs, but there’s an important difference between echo songs and call and response songs. 

A call and response song may be defined as any song where there are two parts: a leader and a chorus. 

The leader sings a phrase, and the chorus responds with either the same phrase, a recurring phrase, or something entirely different. (A lot of these songs make great vocal warmups for kids.)

You may notice in this definition how echo songs fit into this as well. This is because echo songs are, in fact, a specific type of call and response songs. 

Put another way: all echo songs are call and response songs, but not all call and response songs are echo songs. 

The reason it’s important to differentiate between echo songs and call and response songs at large is due to difficulty and sequencing. 

Echo songs are the easiest format of call and response songs. These should be used first before moving on to recurring or different response songs.

Skipping echo songs to go for another type of call and response song is often difficult for kids (and adults) and may result in frustration. 

Any grade can perform any type of call and response song, but it takes time and practice with echo songs first.

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11 Easy Echo Songs For Elementary Music

In this section, I’ll share each of my picks for fun and easy echo and call and response songs for kids. I’ll describe which grade levels they fit into as well as where I first stumbled upon them with links where applicable.  

My Aunt Came Back

Grade Level : K-2. This game has hilarious adding motions.  

Where I First Heard It: First Steps In Music For Preschool and Beyond by John Feierabend

Video: 

Lyrics: 

1. Oh my aunt came back…from Timbuktu…she brought with her…a wooden shoe. 

2. Oh my aunt came back…from Old Japan…she brought with her…a waving fan…and a wooden shoe. 

3. Oh my aunt came back…from old Algiers…she brought with her…a pair of shears…and a waving fan…and a wooden shoe.

4. Oh my aunt came back…from Guadalupe…she brought with her…a hula hoop…and a pair of shears…and a waving fan…and a wooden shoe. 

5. Oh my aunt came back…from the county fair…she brought with her…a rocking chair…and a hula hoop…and a pair of shears…and a waving fan…and a wooden shoe.

6. Oh my aunt came back…from the city zoo…she brought with her…a nut like you! 

Note: The “…” is where students echo. Each item has a motion, and the motions add on to one another. 

Down By The Bay

Grade Level: 2-3

Where I First Heard It: This was one my grandma (a retired Kindergarten teacher) would sing to use all of the time.

Video: 

Lyrics:

Down by the bay…where the watermelons grow…

Back to my home…I dare not go…

For if I do…My mother would say…

Endings: 

Have you ever seen a whale with a polka-dotted tail! 

Down by the bay! 

Alternate Endings: 

  • Tree…scratching its knee
  • Bear…combing hair
  • Cat…eating a hat
  • Fly…wearing a tie

The Alligator Song

Grade Level: 4-5

Where I First Heard It: Camp Tecumseh, Brookston, IN. 

Video: 

Lyrics:

1. The alligator is my friend…

And he can be yours too…

I’d rather have him as my friend…

Than wear him as a shoe…

Alligator…

Alligator…

Alligator…

Can be your friend, can be your friend, can be your friend too!

2. The alligator is my friend…

And he can be yours too….

If only you would understand…

That he’s got feelings too…

Alligator…

Alligator…

Alligator…

Can be your friend, can be your friend, can be your friend too!

3. The alligator is my friend…

He has a scaly pelt…

I’d rather have him as my friend…

Than wear him as a belt…

Alligator…

Alligator…

Alligator…

Can be your friend, can be your friend, can be your friend too!

4. The alligator is my friend…

He has some buggy eyes…

I’d rather have him as my friend…

Than wear him as a tie…

Alligator…

Alligator…

Alligator…

Can be your friend, can be your friend, can be your friend too!

Hey-o Brazilian Bop

Grade Level: 4-5 

Where I First Heard It: Camp Tecumseh, Brookston, IN

Video: 

No video was found. Here is my notation of the song. 

image brazilian bop notation

Lyrics:

1. Hey oh Brazilian bop!…

I’m gonna go back to my block…

With a pizza in my hand…

I’m gonna be a pizza man

Pizza man…In my hand…

2. Hey oh Brazilian bop!…

I’m gonna go back to my block…

With a book in my hand…

I’m gonna be a librarian

Librarian…pizza man…in my hand…

3. Hey oh Brazilian bop!…

I’m gonna go back to my block…

With a basketball in my hand…

I’m gonna be a basketball star

Basketball star…librarian…pizza man…in my hand. 

Miss Mary Mack

Grade Level: 2-3

Where I First Heard It: Book of Echo Songs, Feierabend (this is one of those call and response songs for kids)

Video: 

Lyrics:

Miss Mary Mack…all dressed in black…

With silver buttons…all down her back…

She asked her mother…for 15 cents…

To see the elephants…jump the fence…

They jumped so high…they touched the sky…

And they never came back…’till the 4th of July…

Charlie Over The Ocean

Grade Level: K-2

Where I First Heard It: I would play this one as a kid in my elementary music classroom.

Game (where applicable): The game with this song is basically Duck, Duck, Goose where they only pick someone to chase at the end of the song.

There are two variations I’ve seen. One is as seen in the video where students change the item “Charlie” catches. 

The other version is where the song stays the same except you change the name to match the student.  

Video: 

Lyrics:

Charlie over the ocean...Charlie over the sea…

Chalire caught a big fish…Can’t catch me…

Oh My! No More Pie

Grade Level: K-1 (makes one of the best echo songs for Kindergarten)

Where I First Heard It: Book of Echo Songs, Feierabend (link above)

Video: 

Lyrics:

*I add one final rhyming couplet just to be silly. 

Oh my…no more pie…

Pie’s too sweet…I wanna piece of meat…

Meat’s too red…I think I’ll take some bread…

Bread’s too brown…I think I’ll go to town…

Town’s too far…I think I’ll take the car…

Car won’t go…I kicked and hurt my toe…

Toe gives me pain…I think I’ll take the train…

Train had a wreck…I fell and hurt my neck…

Stepped in the mud…Now I’m squished like a bug(in a squeaky voice)…

Oh my…no more pie…

The Other Day I Met A Bear

Grade Level:1-3 

Where I First Heard It: From my grandmother 

Video: 

Lyrics:

*As with most songs, there is some variation in lyrics. I’ll write down the version I know and remember. 

**Each verse is sung in echo and then put together. 

1. The other day…I met a bear..

A great big bear…a way out there…

2. He said to me…why don’t you run?…

I see you ain’t…Got any gun…

3. I said to him…That’s a good idea…

So come on feet…Let’s up and flee…

4. And so I ran…away from there…

But right behind…me was that bear…

5. Ahead of me…I saw a tree…

A great, big tree…oh golly gee…

6. The lowest branch…was ten feet up…

I’d have to jump…and trust my luck…

7. And so I jumped…into the air…

But I missed that branch…on the way up there…

8. Now don’t you fret…and don’t you frown…

Cause I caught that branch…on the way back down…

9. That’s all there is….there ain’t no more…

Unless I meet…that bear once more… 

The Green Grass Grew All Around

Grade Level: This one works OK with Kindergarten, but it’s a little more complicated. I usually save it until 1st grade. 

Where I First Heard It: This was one my grandma would always sing to me as a kid. In fact, I still have her large print version of the song from her old kindergarten classroom. 

Video: 

Lyrics: 

There are a number of different versions and ways to do this song. Here is the way I usually perform it. 

Echo Section V1

Oh in the woods…

There was a tree…

The prettiest tree…

That you ever did see…

Additive Section

The tree was in the hole and the hole was in the ground and the green grass grew all around and around and the green grass grew all around. 

Echo Section V2

And on that tree…

There was a branch…

The prettiest branch…

That you ever did see…

Additive Section

And the branch was on the tree and the tree was in the hole and the hole was in the ground and the green grass grew all around and around and the green grass grew all around.

Note: From here the song keeps adding. To save time, I’ll just write the new part by verse. 

  1. There was a twig…
  2. There was a nest…
  3. There was a bird…
  4. There was a wing…
  5. There was a feather…
  6. There was a bug…
  7. There was a germ… 
  8. There was a sign that said, “The End!”

Pole Pole 

Grade Level: 2-4

Where I First Heard It: From the Smithsonian Folkways Ella Jenkins

Video: 

Lyrics:

Pole, pole…go slow, go slow…

Pole, pole…that’s where the wildebeest go…

Take your time…go slow, go slow…

Take your time…that’s where the zebras go…

Repeat with other animals. 

Ooh! A lay ah! 

Grade Level: Any 

Where I First Heard It: Camp Tecumseh, Brookston, IN 

Game (where applicable): Each repetition gets softer until you do the final loud one. 

Video: 

Lyrics:

Version 1: 

Ooh a lay a…a ricky ticky tumba…

A mazza mazza mazza…oh ay oh ay ay oh ay ay oh ay oh…

Version 2: 

Ooh a milkshake…a sticky sticky meatball…

A mozzarella pizza…oh all the eggs all the eggs are broken!… 

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed this list of 11 easy echo songs for schools. I do an echo song almost every single music class, and my students love it. 

Hopefully, you found something new on this list to try out.

You may also want to check out some of the classical music resources at Maestro Classic.

They offer great lessons for including recorded music with almost no planning on your part.

Zach VanderGraaff

Zach VanderGraaff is a K-5 music teacher with Bay City Public Schools in Michigan. He's a Past-President of the Michigan Kodaly Educators and Executive Secretary of the Midwest Kodaly Music Educators Association.

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