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]


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.


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

Additional verses are sung by omitting the first word sung in the previous verse, and, instead, children touch 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 the children are silently touching their body parts in rhythm with the song. 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 and though it uses another tune, it does say, "Eyes and ears," "Chin and nose." and suggest touching the body parts as in the traditional song. [2] Another alternative from the Traditional was changed for Christian classes. It, too uses 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]


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