Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

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Children in a Japanese elementary school singing the song.

"Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" is a children's song. The song has been documented as early as the 1950s,[1] and is often sung to the tune of "There Is a Tavern in the Town" or "London Bridge is Falling Down"

Description[edit]

There is generally only one verse with lyrics similar to those below. The second line repeats the first line both in words and in melody, the third line has a rising tone, and the fourth line repeats the first two. Children might dance while they sing the song and touch their head, shoulders, knees, and toes in sequence while singing each word.

Lyrics[edit]

The following lyrics are taken from the children's music database of the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences:

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

The lyrics can also be sung in reverse, like this:

Toes, knees and shoulders, head, shoulders, head
Toes, knees and shoulders, head, shoulders, head
And nose and mouth and ears and eyes
Toes, knees and shoulders, head, shoulders, head

Additional verses are sung by omitting the first word sung in the previous verse, and, instead, touching 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 all the words are omitted. The last verse consists of no actual singing, just touching what would have been sung or repeating the first verse in a quicker tempo.[citation needed]

There is a song that was adapted from the traditional; it uses another tune and says, "Eyes and ears", "Chin and nose" and suggests touching the body parts as in the traditional song. [2] Another alternative from the traditional starts the line with "Eyes" and includes "chin;" however, it has the words in an order that causes the motions to zig zag. [3] Today there are many derivative songs that teach the vocabulary of body parts. [4] [5]

References[edit]

External links[edit]