Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes Nursery Rhyme- Lyrics, History, Video, Lesson Plans & More


Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes is a famous children’s action rhyme that teaches about body parts. Children sing the song while touching the corresponding body parts.

Title Head Shoulders Knees and Toes with an animated cartoon boy touching his head and shoulders

It is a simple and action song that adults and children enjoy.

LYRICS

You might have come across versions of the song with many verses. However, the song only has one verse mentioning parts of the body from the head to the nose.

Lyrics for Head Shoulders Knees and Toes as Sung Today

Head, shoulders, knees, and toes,
Knees and toes.
Head, shoulders, knees, and toes,
Knees and toes.
And eyes and ears and mouth and nose.

Full Original Lyrics for Head Shoulders Knees and Toes

There aren’t any original lyrics since the song has been sung the same way since it first became famous. Of course, people have added extra words and come up with different versions.

But the base of the lyrics remains the same with each variant.

Head Shoulders Knees and Toes Reversed Lyrics

Sometimes the lyrics are sung in reverse, as below:

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.

Lyrics for Versions of Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes

Feet and tummies, arms and chins,
arms and chins
Feet and tummies, arms and chins,
arms and chins
And eyes and ears and mouth and shins
Feet and tummies, arms and chins,
arms and chins
Hands and fingers, legs and lips,
legs and lips
Hands and fingers, legs and lips,
legs and lips
And eyes and ears and mouth and hips
Hands and fingers, legs and lips,
legs and lips

The above is a derivative of the song that uses different body parts. It is sung with the same tune as the original.

THE HISTORY BEHIND HEAD SHOULDERS KNEES AND TOES

Who Wrote Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes?

It is unknown who wrote the song. Little of the song’s origin is known, although it is thought to be based on another famous song called There’s a Tavern in Town.

The two songs share the tune, which spells the end of their relationship. Beyond the tune, there aren’t any other similarities.

For instance, there’s a tavern in Town has more verses than the original Head Shoulders Knees and Toes song.

Compared to other nursery rhymes, the song is pretty recent. Its documentation only happened in 1961. However, there’s the possibility the song was around for a long time before its documentation.

Little is known about the song from that time in history, though.

WHAT DO THE WORDS IN HEAD SHOULDERS KNEES AND TOES MEAN? DEFINITIONS

What Does the Nursery Rhyme Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes Mean?

We can assume that the song has no deeper interpretation than the obvious. It is unclear what inspired the original writer to write this song.

The easy option is to think they wanted to teach children the names of their body parts. So, we can’t put a handle on any deeper meaning the song might convey.

Unlike other nursery rhyme songs with hidden or deeper meanings, this one appears just that: a song about body parts.

What Are the Body parts in the Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes Nursery Rhyme?

The rhyme mentions body parts beginning with the head, shoulders, knees, toes, eyes, ears, and mouth.

Other versions can add different body parts to make the song more encompassing and teach better. So long as the rhyme matches, you can use any body parts to sing the song.

INTERESTING FACTS & QUESTIONS ANSWERED

What Songs Sound Like Head Shoulders Knees and Toes

The song There’s a Tavern in Town has the same tune as Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes. Only the lyrics differ from the song.

Sometimes the popular body parts song is sung to the tune of London Bridge is Falling Down. If you listen to that version, you’ll think London Bridge and Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes are the same.

However, it’s only the rune they share.

Which Came First, There’s a Tavern in Town or Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes?

There’s a Tavern in Town came first since it has a publishing date of 1883. Since the two songs are sung to the same tune, someone can think they appeared at about the same time. That’s not the case.

Can You Sing Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes to Any Tune?

Yes, you can. There’s no limit to what type of tune you decide to sing a song to. Anyone is free to sing the song to a tune of their liking. Head Shoulders Knees and Toes is sung to many other tunes besides the most common.

In fact, you can even sing it to the tune of London Bridge is Falling. That’s a common tune that easily fits the song and all its verses.

Is Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes in The Public Domain?

Yes, the song is in the public domain, even though it wasn’t written before 1925. Songs copyrighted before 1925 are usually in the public domain.

However, that’s different for Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes since its easiest publishing date is only 1961. But since the song has existed from an unknown period, it is considered a public domain song.

However, other people’s versions of the song are not in the public domain. What’s in the public domain is the tune and spine of the song. It is best to confirm with local authorities regarding copyright rules before using any song version in your work.

How to Sing Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes

The song is usually accompanied by the touching of the body parts mentioned in the song.

Sometimes the body part in the song isn’t sung or mentioned. Instead, the singer touches the body part and sings the following line.

That proceeds until the singer only touches the body parts to the song’s tune. Here is how:

—-, shoulders, knees, and toes
—-, —-, knees and toes
—-, —-, —-, and toes
—-, —-, —-, and —

Something else you can do to make the song more enjoyable is singing it at a faster pace. Combined with the actions, that makes the song an excellent exercise song.

How Do You Sing Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes in Sign Language?

You can sing the song in sign language. I found a resource on YouTube that can help you with that.

HEAD SHOULDERS KNEES AND TOES INSPIRED LESSON PLANS

The following is a selection of Lesson Plans based on the Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes rhyme. You need to click on the images to go to the websites to learn more and download the resources.

SHEET MUSIC FOR HEAD SHOULDERS KNEES AND TOES

What is the Time Signature of Head Shoulders Knees and Toes Nursery Rhyme?

Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes has a time signature of 4/4. It has a BPM (beats per minute) of 125.

The song is easy to play and sing with an instrument, whether you’re an experienced musician or not.

HOW TO PLAY HEAD SHOULDERS KNEES AND TOES ON AN INSTRUMENT

You can play Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes with an instrument. Click on the below resources to see how.

Samantha

Samantha Bellerose has a Bachelor of Education as well as a Diploma in Performing Arts. She is a mom to four children and is passionate about education and learning. Samantha created Nursery Rhyme Central as the go to place for parents, teachers and carers about all things to do with Nursery Rhymes. She is also the Main Author and creator for websites Dance Parent 101 and Move Dance Learn, where she shares her knowledge and expertise for dance and learning through movement.

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