“First Day Butterflies” by Dorothy Cresswell on Tuneful Tuesdays

Today’s Tuneful Tuesday song comes from Dorothy Cresswell who shared “First Day Butterflies” written expressly for the first day of school! “(This song) acknowledges that although the beginning of school is exciting, we have mixed feelings about it.”, says Dorothy. “At my school, I collected my class at the bus door. Right there at the door, I would confess to the children that I, too, was nervous. I thought about what to wear, what to bring for lunch, who would the children be, would they like me? I, too, was meeting lots of new people and hoping that we would like each other. I’d ask if anyone else had trouble falling asleep the night before; or if anyone else felt a little strange? I explained that I had “butterflies in my stomach.”  Next, I taught the song, line by line using the call and response method.  Then, we’d put all of the lyrics together without the echo.”

 Let’s take a listen:

“First Day Butterflies”

Lyrics with Choreography 

First Day (hold up one finger)

Tummy butterflies (make hand butterflies crossing thumbs and fingers lined up like wings)

All those funny feelings running ‘round inside. (Make hands fly over tummy area)

I don’t know what will happen (arms at side, palms turned up and shoulders hunched)

It’s a big surprise! (palms raise up above head)

So take a breath (inhale to two counts)

And step-by-step (march 2 steps)

We’ll catch those butterflies! (cup hands together like you’re catching a butterfly)

Let’s go catch those butterflies!


Dorothy recommends these enriching follow-up activities for “First Day Butterflies”:

1)Butterfly Circle Time: At your circle time, draw a large winged butterfly. Ask the children to name the different feelings they have about starting kindergarten. Each time they name one, write it on a wing. Encourage as many different feelings to be expressed to fill up the wings such as excited, scared, happy, worried, sad, glad, hyper, anxious, giddy and mad, etc.  Ask the children what color that word feels like and circle each word in that color.

2) Butterfly Kite Art Project: Print out copies of butterfly outlines at a drawing table for the children to color during arts and craft time or free play time. Set out child-safe scissors, tape and yarn for the children to cut out the butterflies and to attach yarn to make kites. Use this activity time to assess the children for right and left-handedness, coloring and cutting developmental levels, ability to focus, ask questions and hold conversation, etc. I have found this to be a good use of the first morning. 

3) Follow-Up: The next morning, check if anyone has more butterflies. If they do, then sing “Second Day tummy butterflies…”  Usually in a few days those butterflies have settled down.  


Post Reflection:

One day I bumped into a family whose child had started high school that day.  They laughed when they saw me and asked, “Guess what we were singing this morning?” I had no idea. The mother and daughter (who was taller than me by then) sang, “First Day tummy butterflies..!” They said it had come up many times over the years when their daughters had new experiences and had to “Take a breath and step-by-step, catch those butterflies!”


Meet Dorothy Cresswell

Musician and activist Dorothy Creswell is the director of the “Happy Valley Children’s Chorus”; and the creator and producer of  “The Curious Giraffe Show: Musical Conversations with Kids.” To listen to more of Dorothy’s motivating music, you can visit CDBABY here or visit her website here!


  1. Dorothy I love this song and all of the ideas that you suggested if how to use it. In many of the preschools that I work in the kids are transitioned on the days that I am there because I am the familiar link between the bold class and the new. I can use this as one more way to help the children transitioning. Thank you!

  2. Another great tune and movement song from Dorothy. I love how empowering this songs is for all ages!
    Thank you to our wonderful new Blog coordinator.
    I am grateful!

  3. Well this is just about the cutest song for the first day of school – heck, the first week of school! So appropriate, simple and fun! Nicely done, Dorothy!

  4. Perfect first day song! Want to share your song with my daughter Sara who is starting
    her first job teaching pre-schoolers. This is perfect for the children and for her!!!
    Thank you Dorothy for continuing to bring your sweet loving music to young people.

  5. Wonderful!

  6. First day of school can be so unpredictable and anxious for many kids. It can start as a happy day, and end up sad and go from sad to happy too. My daughter’s First Day of her First Grad was so happy and enthusiastic but the bus did not stop for her at our drive way (for some reason she was not on the bus list for the bus driver) and Oh… she had such a long face. I am not sure if this song is available on youtube but I would like to share it on my FB for other parents. Thanks.

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