A New Take on an Old Counting Song

By Liz Buchanan

“Five in the Bed” is a traditional counting song that many of us probably have heard since our own childhood.  I’ve done it as a singing game with children for several years, asking the children to act it out as I sing.  At this fall’s Children’s Music Network conference, I saw Susan Salidor act out an adorable version with five stuffed animals.

I decided to try my own version with stuffed animals. At the same time, I thought that maybe I could head off a few problems with “supersizing” the activity (taking it from the finger-play level to having actual children acting it out) by revising the lyrics that say, “They all rolled over and one fell out.”  If you’ve got a bunch of four-year-olds rolling over in a tight space – um, potential chaos!

So I made some changes in the lyrics below.  I also got a new idea for the ending from my singing partner, Gordon MacFarland.   He suggested that when the song gets down to the last creature, she/he should decide that maybe it wasn’t so bad having friends to cuddle with in the bed.  So the other four get invited back, and all snooze happily.

Here are the words, and you can see a video of me singing it here:

There were five in the bed, and the little one said, “No room! No room!”

So they all gave a wiggle and one fell out.  And he gave a little scream, and he gave a little shout, and he said:

“Please remember, to tie a knot in your pajamas. ‘Cause this bed was only made for 1-2-3-4.”

There were four in the bed … etc.

When one animal is left:

There was one in the bed, and here’s what she said: “I’m cold. I’m lonely.”

So she called to her friends and they came back.

And they gave a little scream: Whee!

And they gave a little shout: Hooray!

And they said, “We don’t need to/tie a knot in our pajamas.

‘Cause this bed is big enough for ev-ery-one!”

(All sleep – snoring noises!)

If you are “supersizing” the activity, with children acting out the song, let them all “sleep” for a few seconds and then ask them to wake up and go back to their seats.

Liz Buchanan is President of The Children’s Music Network.