Kookaburra bounces on Mommy’s knee, in Kindermusik class we sing with glee,

Shake, Kookaburra, Dance, Kookaburra,  Love that music do we.

Several of our Kindermusik units include a popular folk song about an Australian bird, the Kookaburra.  The Kookaburra has a unique song, which sounds like a shrill laugh.

The first verse simply describes the nature of this unique bird that only lives in the Eucalyptus forests of  Eastern Australia.  San Diego Zoo online describes the sound of it’s voice,

“It may look fairly drab, but you won’t think the laughing kookaburra is ordinary after it opens its beak! Known as the “bushman’s alarm clock” because it has a very loud call, a laughing kookaburra vocalizes in its family group at dawn and dusk. The call sounds like a variety of trills, chortles, belly laughs, and hoots. It starts and ends with a low chuckle and has a shrieking “laugh” in the middle. The song is a way the birds advertise their territory.” 

The babies and toddlers are fascinated as we mimic the sound and sing this fun song while we shake our egg shaped instruments.  Sometimes, we even get to hear one of the babies mimic the sound in class.  Delightful !

The 3 – 5 year olds in our Level 3 adventures have a lot of fun pretending to move like and sound like different birds they may find in their backyard, or a park.  The Kookaburra song helps introduce them to new kinds of birds whose song is quite different from the tweety sounds they usually associate with with birds.  They LOVE laughing along with their fellow Kookaburra friends, and making up new words to this song.

The Kookaburra song was written by Marion Sinclair for her Girl Scout troop in Melbourne. It quickly became hugely popular both locally and wherever Girl Scouts sing.  I remember singing this song around the campfire at youth camp, and have many fond memories singing it while hiking, etc.

Kookaburra – Original Verse

  • Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,  Merry, merry king of the bush is he.
  • Laugh, Kookaburra, Laugh, Kookaburra,  Gay your life must be.

One of my my favorite recordings of the Kookaburra Song is by Mary Miche’ on the Earthy Songs album I originally got this album as a cassette tape and we wore it out… ALL the songs are fabulous !   It is now available to purchase as a download on the Songs For Teaching website.  Oh, how I could go crazy downloading music on that site !

Having Fun Personalizing It For Your Family

We had fun making up new words back in Girl Scout camp for what might happen to the Kookaburra, so I like to challenge my Kindermusik parents and older students to come up with their own verses.   Children, even babies, love to hear songs that are about things they like that are familiar to them, and they especially like to hear their OWN NAME sung – as often as possible.

Songs that are personalized for children help with their social and emotional development, gaining a better sense of self, and where they fit into the world.  This one was created when my daughter was young.

  • Little Cora Bean in her big high chair, eating Cheerios and chunks of pears,
  • Eat… Little Cora, Eat… Little Cora.  Full your belly will be.

While playing around with the words while you sing, you may consider adding variety by inviting your baby to accompany you on homemade instruments!  There is a very clear steady beat to this song, even while simply singing it.   Some instrument ideas include tapping a pot with a spoon, the floor with a comb, or a book with your fingers. Or pull out your baby’s rattles and other noise-makers for a toy band. Enjoy the cacophony!

Please enjoy some of these personalized verses from my Kindermusik families over the years.   Then I hope you choose to accept the Kookaburra challenge (read about it below).

  • Little Sloan swings from a big oak tree, Listening to the birdies and a bumble bee
    Buzz bumble bee, buzz bumble bee.  Please do not sting me.  (Casey Detz – 2013)
  • Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,  Helping all the children count to three.
  • One, Kookaburra, Two, Kookaburra,  I can count to three.     (Allison Hunter – 2001)
  • Kookaburra sits on a bird bath rim,  Little does he know there’s a cat ‘neath him.
  • Fly Kookaburra, Fly, Kookaburra  Hurry and find a limb   (Dena Weber – 2001)
  • Kookaburra sits atop her nest,  Watching all her babies while they rest,
  • Love, Kookaburra, Love, Kookaburra,  Mom, you are the best !   (Laura Chase – 2001)
  • Kookaburra sits on the welcome mat,  Watching out for the old fat cat.
  • Run, Kookaburra, Run, Kookaburra,  Tired your legs must be.
  • Kookaburra swings in the old gum tree,  Swinging swinging high as can be.Swing, Kookaburra, Swing, Kookaburra,Gay your life must be !   (Lee Shupsky – 2001)
  • Kookaburra goes to the county fair  Rides the ferris wheel through the air,
  • Wheee!  Kookaburra, Wheee!  Kookaburra  Look down if you dare !   (Kim Smith)
  • Kookaburra goes to the picture show  Finds a seat in the very first row.
  • Shhhh! Kookaburra,  Shhh!  Kookaburra   Keep your voice real low.   (Kim Smith)

At http://www.kiddyhouse.com/Songs/Kookaburra.html , you will immediately hear the melody played while viewing the original words.  There is also a LOT more on this site, like ideas for crafts and activities, a coloring page, and even a lesson plan.

If you so choose you can take the Kookaburra challenge.  Sing this song with your child, and together make up a verse.  Post your new words as a comment below, and everyone can enjoy it!  Make sure and include your name.