The traditional Thanksgiving song, “Over the River and Through the Woods” is a classic.  Just singing it helps us older folks feel connected to past generations.  You and your young family can connect even more through this song, with the folloing ideas for actions, activities, games with the original song.   For older children, it is actually a fairly good history lesson to realize what travel was like just 100 years ago.  Through pictures and stories, we can help our children relate to the original words  When was the last chance they had to experience freezing their ears and nose in a horse drawn sleigh?  While it is a joy to sing and begin to relate to the original verses, Why not write some verses that can help them relate to how THEY experience family fun at Thanksgiving.

This brief video version has the words large enough to read with many images that relate to the text, and is very clear and easy to sing along with.

Enjoy singing along with the original words.   You can also find these in the Scholastics book by the same name available on Amazon.

  • Over The River & Through The Woods
  • Over the river and through the woods,
  • To Grandmother’s house we go.
  • The horse knows the way
  • to carry the sleigh,
  • through the white and drifting snow.
  • Over the river and through the woods,
  • Oh, how the wind does blow !
  • It stings the toes
  • and bites the nose,
  • As over the ground we go.
  • Over the river and through the woods,
  • Trot fast, my dapple gray !
  • Spring over the ground
  • like a hunting hound,
  • For this is Thanksgiving day.
  • Over the river and through the woods,
  • Now Grandfather’s face I spy !
  • Hurrah for the fun !
  • Is the turkey done ?
  • Hurrah for pumpkin pie !

Which of these activities will be engaging for your child as you sing this song?  See pictures and expansions of these ideas in Sleigh Rides and Bell Horses

  • Use fingers to trot around on your child or on the floor
  • Use a long scarf as reigns for your little horse.  Wrap the scarf around the front of their body and under their armpits, with the long ends trailing in the back for you to hold onto.  Have your horse trot or gallop leading you around the room, or even the yard.
  • Use a blanket, towel, or even a laundry basket and pull your little child around while the music plays
  • Have the child use a blanket to pull their favorite stuffed characters around.
  • Make some homemade instruments, and have a Thanksgiving parade.
  • Challenge the family to work together to create new words to this melody that reflect what Thanksgiving is like for your family now.
  • Cut strips of colorful paper to make a paper chain.  All day long, have family members write something on each strip of paper that they are thankful for, and sign it, just before adding it to the paper chain.  Then hum, or sing “la” for the melody as you drape the chain “over the couch and around the lamp”.  Right before bedtime on Thanksgiving day, read over all the things people were thankful for.
  • If you’d like to expand on that idea, take a picture of every family member, and make a book with each of the strips, written in their own handwriting, and place it with that person’s picture.  This could become a great family tradition.


If you do decide to tackle some song writing together as a family, enlist the help of your children in brainstorming ideas to include… spend a lot of time with this talking about what Thanksgiving is really like for your family, or how you would LIKE it to be.     Take a piece of paper and answer these questions;

  • Where do you meet?
  • How do you get there?
  • Who will be there?
  • What is your favorite parts of the meal?
  • How do you show your gratitude for all your blessings?

You can just change some of the words to the original song to make it fit, or rewrite the whole thing using the same melody.  Children LOVE to have their ideas included in a song.  Younger ones really LOVE to have their NAME in the song.  The more personalized to your family the better.

Then make sure to write down your verses and keep them so you can sing them year after year.  Add pictures of all of the family.  You may even want to catch it on video, or let Gramma watch via the webcam.  Have some fun.

Here’s are three different “starts” to give you some ideas.  It can be serious and reflective, or it can be funny.

  • Over the Freeway, and passing trucks,
  • To Grandmother’s house we go,
  • GPS know the way, so Daddy won’t stray
  • On the long and winding roads, OH !


  • Into an airplane, and through the skies
  • To Aunt Nancy’s house we fly
  • We’ll see tiny towns, on far away grounds
  • Cause we’ll be up so HIGH !


  • Into my driveway, and ‘round the gate
  • to my house, my family comes.
  • I jump, scream, and shout, when my cousins get out.
  • Gram and Gramps will like my drums.

I would LOVE to read, hear, or watch your family’s song.  Let’s have a contest.  Post your song here as a comment, or on our Music Connections Facebook Page by Nov. 30.   The best new verse will be awarded a Kindermusik Chime Ball in class the following week if here in Lakeland, FL.  If you live elsewhere, or are not able to take a class, I will send you code to download 10 songs from .  Make sure to include your name… and your email address if I don’t already have it.

If you will be reconnecting with grandparents or family you don’t see often, especially if you have a child who may not be ready for a huge hug, promote a respectful reunion by considering the approach in this article:   Grandma, Please Be Patient for a Hug

Happy Thanksgiving !  May your travels be full of delightful melodies and harmonious connections.