Bird Themes in Musical Play

Recently on my Facebook page, parents and teachers were looking for songs and musical ideas incorporating birds. This weekend was Theo’s third birthday party. His mother had asked if she could use some of my bird songs and bird puppets for her son Theo’s third birthday. Here is a photo of Theo’s beautiful birthday cake.  The birds on the birthday cake matched the native birds in my song “Five Little Singing Birds” track 5 from my new CD “Magical Musical Play”.

Theo cake


“Five Little singing Birds” incorporates the natural bird calls for each of the five birds. The kiwi, piwakawaka (fantail), korimako (bellbird), pukeko, and kereru (wood pigeon). The musical arrangements lend themselves to movement and dance. Before the children sing, dance and act out the five different birds, we use bird puppets that incorporate each natural bird call.  The birds are lined up so that children can see the visual order of each bird within the song. They hear the bird singing, see the shape of the bird and we sing about how the bird moves, where it lives and what it eats etc. We use sung questions and the children love to sing answers.

Children enjoy opportunities for movement, dance and dramatic expression. We have groups of children as kiwi all foraging for grubs and juicy worms in the forest, using their big feet and pecking with their long beaks. The piwakawaka (fantails) all dance around with organza and scarves using their beautiful fan tails to flit and dance through the trees. The Korimako group sing their beautiful songs calling to each other using one of two notes and echoing the notes as they pretend to fly from tree to tree. They enjoy their beautiful green organza wings.  Children as pukeko love to strut around being proud, beautiful swamp birds. The kereru group fly drunkenly around after pretending to have gorged themselves on the fruit and nectar from trees.


My CD “Dancing in a Circle” has two bird songs track 24-25. We use the song Manu (bird) track 24 in which children act out the different birds, go and find a friend and fly together. This song also works very well as a finger play. Make the shape of a window with hands and do flying actions with both hands crossed thumbs together, fluttering fingers being the birds.

Track 25 “My Pigeon House” can be used in a variety of ways. All the children respond so well to the use of the parachute. Children start underneath curled up in their nest with the parachute held over them. The parachute is lifted high so that they can fly all around and alight in the tallest tree. They come back under the parachute which is gently lowered, but not touching the children. They then fly away together enjoying finding a tall tree to stand on. The children come back to sleep under the parachute again. This traditional song contains all the sung instructions.



My CD Sing and Play has several bird songs including “New Zealand Round” track 6, Five Little Ducks” track 5  The children enjoy this as a finger play, acting out the five little ducks with the mother duck, listening to it as a sung story. It is in book form with several different publications. “The Kiwi Bird” track 7 is a beautiful song by Helen Willberg and arranged by me with the natural song of the kiwi.


The Kiwi Bird.

“The kiwi bird is round and shy”  Make a large circle with both arms then place hands in front of face for “shy”
“With such short wings so she can’t fly” tuck hands under armpits and flap wings
“She wakes by night” use fingers to make frame both eyes
“And sleeps by day,” hold both hands together as a pillow and place head on hands
“And Kiwi, kiwi, is what she says,” use thumb and index finger for beak action
“She’s got soft feathers” stroke each arm
“And quite big feet” stamp feet in time
“And a long, long, long, long, long, long, long beak” Use pointed index finger and whole  hand from nose gradually down to the ground to outline the long beak. This song teaches the descending 8 note octave scale C-C.



Do finger plays such as “Two Little Dickey Birds”, Read some of the many beautiful stories about our native birds and forest, read legends and stories from our own land and stories about birds from around the world. Make up your own bird songs and stories with the children. Fly little singing birds, Fly so free!