Hurray, another Pram Jam blog! Today I wanted to chat about how much fun ‘call and response’ singing can be. We use this technique often with our kids to prompt engagement, in the same way that you may remember teachers in school grabbing everyone’s attention – the old ‘five clap trick’ or even a traditional ‘Good morning, boys and girls’ and the sing song response, ‘Good morning Mrs Smith’.

Book Cover - Twinkle, twinkle little star ” title=“View this item in the library catalogue
Twinkle, twinkle little star /illustrated by Matt Shanks.

One of our favourite songs to use ‘call and response’ techniques with is One, two, buckle my shoe. It plays on rhyming techniques as well as counting, and has a bit of an ad lib option where we decide whether to ‘sing it again’ or continue on through the teen numbers. We can take turns counting or responding, and it’s always good fun!

Another super easy song (and in this case, book) to sing as a call and response is Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. This is one of the first songs that my babies have coo-d along to, so it’s been a natural progression from me singing all of the lines to us each taking turns. We never know what we’ll end up with, whether Daddy bought a motor car or we took a trip to Marble Bar!

Perhaps our favourite example of a ‘call and response’ style book is Hairy Maclary, which has a wonderful, repetitive and predictable text. This provides a brilliant opportunity for young toddlers to engage and show their comprehension and memory. We could easily read a Hairy Maclary book every day at our place!

Book Cover - Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy ” title=“View this item in the library catalogue
Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy /Written by Lynley Dodd.

Book Cover - Shh! We have a plan ” title=“View this item in the library catalogue
Shh! We have a plan /Written by Chris Haughton.

This one could be a lovely option for a bedtime story! Lots of opportunities for taking turns. Let me know if you have any great suggestions for this style of reading, as I would love to use it more during our Pram Jam sessions.

So, do you use ‘call and response’ as a literacy technique with your children? Do they have favourite songs to share the lines with you? Books that they interject with lines while you’re reading?

A few more of our examples are:

Me: Diddle, diddle, dumpling, my son John
I: Went to bed with his trousers on;
Me: One shoe off, and the other shoe on,
I: Diddle, diddle, dumpling, my son John

Me: Mary, Mary, quite contrary
I: How does your garden grow?
Me: With silver bells, and cockle shells
I: And pretty maids all in a row!