7 Fun Songs With Additive Form

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Do you want to include more additive songs in your music classroom? 

Are you looking to shake up your classroom with some fun and challenging songs? 

Ever since I was a kid, I loved additive songs before I even knew what they were. After I became a music teacher, I discovered my students loved them almost as much as I did. 

So I looked through my lists of songs and developed this list of 7 fun songs with additive form to share with you. 

Songs with additive form use the same basic melody but keep adding more and more lyrics and/or motions to make them more challenging. These are fun for younger and older students (and even adults love them too!). These 7 are especially good for classroom use: 

  • Green Grass Grew All Around
  • Johnny Works With One Hammer
  • My Aunt Came Back
  • There’s A Hole In The Bottom Of The Sea
  • I Had A Rooster
  • There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly
  • Singing In The Rain (Camp Version)

Check out the rest of the post for suggestions and comments on each song. 

Related Reading: Check out these children’s songs in ternary form. 

What Is Additive Form In Music? 

Additive form in music is a little unclear. It depends on the context of the word and what you’re looking for. 

There is a technique in composing and improvisation called additive rhythm. There’s also a subset of form called additive form (used by some Baroque composers such as Antonio Vivaldi). 

In today’s music world, when you’re asking for additive songs, you’re looking for songs with lyrics adding on to each other to become longer. 

For each of these songs, the core melody stays the same, but one part extends itself each repetition. Alternatively, an additive song may also add motions instead of lyrics. 

For young students, these songs provide a fun challenge and are often engaging just by this challenging nature. 

Such songs are often a little more complicated than your standard song and may take a few repetitions to learn. Fortunately, their additive nature helps you take care of this. 

Related Reading: Learn about fun songs with AB form.

7 Fun Songs With Additive Form Breakdown

In this section, I’ll go over each song a little including how and when I use it in the classroom. Most of these are traditional in nature with no known creators, but I’ll still link to where I’ve found it when possible. 

Also included in each are videos doing these songs. Once students learn them well, they love to sing along and/or see a new version of the song they know. 

Note: These also make great videos for subs to show. 

#1 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!”

#2 Johnny Works With One Hammer

Grade Level: Kindergarten – This song doesn’t have additive lyrics, but the movements are additive.  

Where I First Heard It: The Music Effect Book 1 by Joy Nelson

Video: 

Lyrics: 

1. Johnny works with one hammer, one hammer, one hammer. 

Johnny works with one hammer. Then he works with two. 

2. Johnny works with two hammers, two hammers, two hammers. 

Johnny works with two hammers. Then he works with three. 

3. Three…

4. Four…

5. Johnny works with five hammers, five hammers, five hammers. 

Johnny works with five hammers. Then he’s all tired out! 

#3 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. 

#4 There’s A Hole In The Bottom Of The Sea

Grade Level: 1-3

Where I First Heard It: This was another one my grandma would sing to us as kids, so I first heard this one in the oral tradition. 

Video: 

Lyrics: 

Here are some alternate lyrics to the song from above. This is the version I’m more familiar with. 

1. There’s a hole in the bottom of the sea,

There’s a hole in the bottom of the sea,

There’s a hole, there’s a hole,

There’s a hole in the bottom of the sea.

2. There’s a log in the hole

In the bottom of the sea,

There’s a log in the hole

In the bottom of the sea,

There’s a log, there’s a log,

There’s a log in the hole

In the bottom of the sea.

3. There’s a branch on the log in the hole

In the bottom of the sea,

There’s a branch on the log in the hole

In the bottom of the sea,

There’s a branch, there’s a branch,

There’s a branch on the log in the hole

In the bottom of the sea.

4. There’s a bump…

5. There’s a frog…

6. There’s a tail…

7. There’s a speck…

8. There’s a fleck…

#5 I Had A Rooster

Grade Level: 1-3

Where I First Heard It: I first heard this song from Pete Seeger’s Birds, Beasts, Bugs, and Fishes album

Video: 

Lyrics: 

1. I had a rooster, and the rooster pleased me. 

I fed my rooster ‘neath the green berry tree. 

That little rooster said, “Cock-a-doodle-doo! Dee-doodle-dee-doodle-dee-doodle-dee-doo!”

2. I had a duck, and the duck pleased me. 

I fed my duck ‘neath the green berry tree. 

That little duck said, “Quack, quack, quack!” 

That little rooster said, “Cock-a-doodle-doo! Dee-doodle-dee-doodle-dee-doodle-dee-doo!”

3. I had a piggy, and the piggy pleased me. 

I fed my piggy ‘neath the green berry tree. 

That little piggy said, “Oink, oink, oink!”

That little duck said, “Quack, quack, quack!” 

That little rooster said, “Cock-a-doodle-doo! Dee-doodle-dee-doodle-dee-doodle-dee-doo!”

4. I had a cow…”Moo!”…

5. I had a horse…”Neigh!”…

Note: Include any animals the students wish. 

#6 There Was An Old Lady That Swallowed A Fly

Grade Level: K-2 for the song, 3-5 for creating their own version of the song 

Where I First Heard It: From the cartoon below…Earliest published versions in Hoosier Folklore in 1947. 

Video: 

Lyrics: 

1. There was an old lady who swallowed a fly;

I don’t know why she swallowed a fly – Perhaps she’ll die!

2. There was an old lady who swallowed a spider; 

That wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her!

She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;

I don’t know why she swallowed a fly – Perhaps she’ll die!

3. There was an old lady who swallowed a bird; 

How absurd to swallow a bird!

She swallowed the bird to catch the spider;

That wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her!

She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;

I don’t know why she swallowed a fly – Perhaps she’ll die!

4. There was an old lady who swallowed a cat; 

Fancy that! She swallowed a cat!…

5. There was an old lady that swallowed a dog; 

What a hog, to swallow a dog!…

6. There was an old lady who swallowed a goat; 

She just opened her throat to swallow a goat!…

7. There was an old lady who swallowed a cow; 

I don’t know how she swallowed a cow!…

8. There was an old lady who swallowed a horse;

… She’s dead, of course!

Note: Some books and videos now use a more “appropriate” version using the words: 

“I don’t know why she swallowed the fly. She won’t say why.” 

#7 Singing In The Rain (Camp Version)

Grade Level: 3-5 

Where I First Heard It: As a camp counselor at Camp Tecumseh in Brookston, IN. 

Video: 

Lyrics: 

1. I’m singing in the rain. Just ringing in the rain.

What a glorious feeling I’m…

Chilly bop, chilly bop, chilly bop whoo!

Chilly bop, chilly bop, chilly bop whoo! 

Thumbs up! 

2.  I’m singing in the rain. Just ringing in the rain.

What a glorious feeling I’m…

Chilly bop, chilly bop, chilly bop whoo!

Chilly bop, chilly bop, chilly bop whoo! 

Thumbs up! Elbows back!

3. I’m singing in the rain. Just ringing in the rain.

What a glorious feeling I’m…

Chilly bop, chilly bop, chilly bop whoo!

Chilly bop, chilly bop, chilly bop whoo! 

Thumbs up! Elbows back! Feet together!

4. … Hips back!

5. … Head up!

6. … Tongue out! 

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed learning about these 7 fun songs with additive form. These are a staple in my classroom, and the students love doing them. 

Which one are you going to try? Let us know in the comments below. 

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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