Memorization is a vital skill for children of any age. An easy way of helping kids memorize material faster and remember it longer is by matching the facts to the tune of a familiar song (piggybacking). Here's what you need to know to to write piggyback songs to help your kids remember important information.

Why Piggyback Songs Work

Piggy back songs work because the technique piggybacks on knowledge already stored in the brain and intensifies it. By using familiar tunes, like "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Stars, that kids already know and love, the focus remains on learning and understanding the words.

Write Your Songs

Writing piggyback songs is as easy as 1-2-3. Here's how: 

Pick a subject or topic that you would like to teach. Colors, the alphabet or the seasons are good choices, but don't limit yourself to traditional core educational themes. If you want to teach your child his or her name or address, just write a quick tune and teach them to sing it.  When you use nursery rhymes, poems, or scripture, you don't have to worry about writing the words or being creative because all you have to do is find a tune that fits the wording. 

For instance, choose a Bible verse and song, and hum the words with the tune. If the words or tune do not seem to fit, try another tune. It may take two or three tries to find a melody to mesh with the words.

Feel free to change the order of the words, or substitute words if necessary to blend words and music harmonically. As long as the meaning is not altered or distorted by the changes, there is little harm done by taking creative liberties.

Here is an example  of how to write and modify a scripture to the rhythm of the music to create your own original piggyback song:

Proverbs 3:6 - In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your path - can be sung to the tune of “Frere Jacques” ike this:

In all your ways/acknowledge Him/and He shall direct/direct your path./Proverbs three and six, /Proverbs three and six/direct your path.

The process breaks down like this: The tune to "Frere Jacques" fits the words closely but needs a few modifications. By repeating the phrase “direct your path”, the words and melody flow. The same principle applies to saying “Proverbs 3 and 6” rather than “Proverbs 3:6”because the rhythm of the song requires the extra emphasis of the word “and”.

Kids Love Music

Try These Tunes

Try these popular toddler tunes as your background music for your piggyback songs. However, these tunes are only recommendations so if one of your child's favorite songs is not listed, use it instead. It's better to use a tune they love because they will enjoy singing the new song more.

  • "A Hunting We Will Go"
  • "Bear Went Over the Mountain"
  • "Bingo"
  • "Clementine"
  • "Farmer in the Dell"
  • "Frere Jacques"
  • "Happy and You Know It"
  • "Head Shoulder Knees and Toes"
  • "I’m a Little Teapot"
  • "Jesus Loves Me"
  • "London Bridge"
  • "Mary had a Little Lamb
  • Row, Row, Row Your Boat"
  • "Ten Little Indians"
  • "The Wheels on the Bus"
  • "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star"

Kids love repetition and enjoy hearing and singing the same songs over and over. Music allows them to communicate ideas and feelings that they might not be able to verbalize.


Sample Songs

Here's some samples to get you started writing your own piggyback songs. Use them as presented here, create additional verses, or use them as a vehicle to express other thoughts, feelings, or concepts. Having fun (the product) is more important than the process, so sit down with your kids and start to sing:

To the tune of "Bingo":

  • There was a mom who had a girl, and Donna was her name-o.
  • D-o-n-n-a, D-o-n-n-a, D-o-n-na, and Donna was her name-o.

Modify this simple ditty by saying "dad", "man," or "woman" and "child" or  "kid" to work with any situation or lifestyle.

To the tune of "London Bridge":

  • Autumn leaves crunch as we walk, as we walk, as we walk.
  • Jump and play as they fall down, leaves fall down in autumn.

To the tune of "Happy Birthday":

  • Happy Mother's Day to you, happy Mother's Day to you.
  • Happy Mother's Day dear mommy, happy Mother's Day to you.

Modify this for Father's Day, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Grandparent's day, and any other holiday you feel like celebrating.

To the tune of "London Bridge":

  • Now it's nighttime, what do we see? What do we see? What do we see?
  • Now it's nighttime, what do we see? See stars twinkling bright in the sky.

Change the words to "daytime" and substitute "the sun shining" to create a song about daylight.

To the tune of "London Bridge":

  • God made stars to shine at night, shine at night, shine at night.
  • Good made stars to shine at night, and sun to shine all day.

Now that you see how easy the process is, try your hand at creating some simple songs to teach your kids about a wide variety of people, places,  things, and ideas.  Sing the sings with them or to them, and use them spontaneously to add a little enjoyment to any activity. Once you get started writing piggyback songs, you'll find that it is so much fun, you won't want to stop.